In certain market conditions, sellers may find that more than one buyer is interested in their property.

This is a competing offer situation and creates unique conditions in a real estate transaction. Sellers need to consider how to respond when presented with a competing offer situation. Working closely with your real estate agent will ensure that you understand the process.

Your real estate agent represents your interests in the transaction. The decisions about how offers are presented and responded to, as well as which offer is accepted, are made by you.

Number of offers

Buyers in Ontario who have made an offer on a property are entitled to know the number of competing offers. Your real estate agent must share this information with every buyer who has submitted a written offer. If you want your agent to share the information with any interested buyers, you may direct them to do so. 

Content of offers

Sellers in Ontario choose how much other information, if any, they want to share about the offers they receive. Sellers are not required to share this information and agents working for sellers are not permitted to share any of the content of the offers unless the seller directs them to. 

If you are a seller

Here are the considerations to keep in mind as a seller:

  • You decide how much information you want to share about the competing offers.
  • Your agent will advise you based on the characteristics of your property, market conditions, the content of the offers you receive and other things. 
  • You need to provide clear written direction to your agent before the content of any offers can be shared. 
  • Personal or identifying information contained in offers cannot be shared. 

You might make this decision before or after offers are received. You can change your direction to the real estate agent at any time. 

Tips for sellers dealing with competing offers

A seller facing competing offers has to consider how they want to deal with the situation. The seller can decide to: 

  • accept the best offer; 
  • negotiate with one buyer and reject all other offers; 
  • negotiate with one buyer and advise other buyers that their offers are being set aside while the seller negotiates; or 
  • reject all offers. 

Part of the strategy may involve whether the content of competing offers is shared. 

Even in a competing offer situation, buyers have other options and may choose not to continue to participate. A seller may attempt to negotiate only to find out that it was the best offer the buyer could present. In the meantime, other buyers have found new properties they are interested in. 

If you decide to share the content of competing, a buyer may decide they do not want to participate in a process where the content of offers is shared or may take steps to protect the content of their offer.

Your real estate agent can provide advice and guidance, ensuring that the obligations and the options available are understood, and can help you navigate the complexities of dealing with competing offers.