Does the seller have to tell potential buyers that a house is conditionally sold?
Whether the seller is required to disclose will depend on how the property is listed.
Some local real estate boards in Alberta may have rules around listing a property using their online listing database. Although sellers do not have to disclose to buyers if their property is conditionally sold to another buyer, some listing services require that upon acceptance of a conditional offer, any property listed on their platforms must be reported as “pending.”
It is important to read your listing agreement carefully before signing it so you understand the specific rules of the listing service(s). Sellers should also ask their agent about the rules around advertising conditional sales on listing databases they plan to market their property.
Remember that conditionally sold is not the same thing as sold. If the conditional offer falls through, the seller may begin the process of attracting potential buyers again if there are no other offers pending.
Even if the listing service doesn’t require that a pending sale be disclosed, a buyer’s agent can always ask if it is. In that case, the seller has two options: they can instruct their agent to answer the question—if they choose to have their agent answer, they must answer honestly—or they can instruct their agent not to answer. If the seller’s agent refuses to answer the question, buyers can probably read between the lines. Choosing not to answer a question can be an answer in itself.
If you are a buyer and you love a property, think about going to 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 submit an offer to be considered in the event the first sale falls through. Your agent can talk you through the pros and cons of these strategies.
If you are a seller, make sure you understand the requirements of disclosing any conditional sales for the online listing databases on which you plan to list your property. If the listing service requires pending sales be disclosed, you will have to abide by these rules, or you may not be permitted to use that service to market your property.
“Ask Charles” is a question and answer column by 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 licence, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.