In Real Estate, It’s Not a Contract Unless It’s In Writing

A couple of buyers who made an offer on one of my listings last week had a surprise because their agent didn’t explain a basic rule of real estate to them. In Illinois, oral agreements don’t count. Real estate contracts must be in writing.

The couple reached an oral agreement with my seller. After that and before their agent submitted their written offer with their earnest money, 2 higher offers were submitted. The seller decided to accept one of the higher offers instead, but agreed to sell to the couple if they would match the highest offer. The couple declined claiming that they had an agreement. They may have had an oral agreement, but they didn’t have a contract. The seller had the right to accept another offer instead.

You don’t have a real estate contract until an agreement is in writing, the changes have been initialed by both parties and the document has been signed by both parties.

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Fran Bailey Fran Bailey is a Realtor who has been quoted in numerous Chicago and national publications. To schedule showings for any listings, get a free market analysis for your home or to contact Fran email her at or call 773-793-4516. Learn More