I made an offer on my dream home and stopped looking at other properties. My offer was not accepted, and I later learned the house was already conditionally sold at the time I made my offer. Doesn’t the seller have to tell me the house is conditionally sold before I make an offer?

No. Sellers do not have to disclose to buyers if their property is conditionally sold to another buyer.

Sellers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to disclosing the status of their property’s listing, and that includes whether they disclose when it is conditionally sold. If the seller instructs their agent not to disclose to buyers that their property is conditionally sold, the seller’s agent must follow those instructions.

Remember that conditionally sold is not the same thing as sold. If the conditional offer falls through, the seller has to begin the process of attracting potential buyers again. But, if they continue to market the home while it is conditionally sold, they increase their chances of having a backup offer from another buyer in the event the first buyers don’t waive their conditions.

I understand this was your dream home, you stopped looking at other properties once you made your offer, and it’s frustrating to not get the home, but your agent should have advised you of the possibility of the property being conditionally sold. In doing so, they could have also advised you of possible other courses of action.

While a seller isn’t required to disclose that their property is conditionally sold, your agent can always ask if it is. In that case, the seller has two options – they can instruct their agent to answer the question – and if doing so, they must answer it honestly and not lie. Or, they can instruct their agent to refuse to answer. If the seller’s agent refuses to answer the question, you can probably read between the lines. Choosing not to answer the question can be an answer in itself.

So, what do you do in the event you find a home you want to see, but you’re worried about it being conditionally sold?

If you love the home, go see it even if it is conditionally sold. This way, if the first conditional sale falls through, you’ll be prepared to make an offer right away. Or, even submit an offer as a backup so that it’s considered as soon as the first sale falls through.

“Ask Charles” is a question and answer column by Charles Stevenson, Director of Professional Standards with the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), www.reca.ca. RECA is the independent, non-government agency responsible for the regulation of Alberta’s real estate industry. We license, govern, and set the standards of practice for all real estate, mortgage brokerage, and real estate appraisal professionals in Alberta. To submit a question, email askcharles@reca.ca.