Can the sellers inflate offers out of thin air to get buyers pay more?

Category: Houses


Hi David, 
First home buyers here. Recently we found an Ajax freehold townhouse we liked and “affordable” as per the listing, we soon found overselves in a bidding war on offer night, accompanied by our agent.  We outbid every one else on site except for this “email offer that always outbid us” the listing agent said that they were willing to accept our offer since we were there in person and we had a deposit cheque. Our agent kept going back and forth and once told us that we should consider removing the home inspection stipulation to stand a better chance, which we declined considering the old age of the house. We went over 50K of asking but couldn’t compete with the email who apparently outbid us by 10k more. The next day we found out that it sold for way more than that. My naive question is can the sellers inflate offers out of thin air to get buyers pay more? We thought this “email offer” was just their shady way for buying more time and they didn’t like any offer that night.

Appreciate any thoughts/comments.


Hi Talal,


I can sense you’re frustrated with how this played out, so please don’t shoot the messenger when I say that nothing you experienced was out of the ordinary!

We’re seeing more and more “emailed” offers as opposed to “in person,” just based on the way technology has allowed us to communicate, but also as this busy market has put more demands on buyers, sellers, and agents alike.

In the 1980’s, it was customary for the buyers to present to the sellers, in person, along with the two agents – listing and cooperating.  Now, was that because people were nicer back then, or was it because there was no email?

Part of me thinks that the reason there are fewer in-person presentations these days is because sellers really, truly, don’t care who buys their home; it’s all about money.

But part of me finds the “in-person” presentation to be highly unnecessary in this day and age.

I had an offer on a house last week, and the listing agent wrote in the MLS remarks, “offers to be emailed by 7pm.”  I asked her why, and she said, “My client is on a beach in St. Kitts, reviewing on her iPad.  When we have an offer to accept, she’s going to use DocuSign, and use the point of her index finger to sign, initial, sell, and move on to the next phase of her life.”

So my point, to this rather lengthy tangent, is that your suspicion of this “emailed offer” is not warranted.

In fact, I see this as the way of the future.

As to whether or not the listing agent can make up offers out of thin air – no, they can’t.

Bill 55, the Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2013, brought about changes to the way that offers are reviewed and tracked in the Province of Ontario.

As of July 1st, 2015, all offers had to be accompanied by an, “OREA Form 801,” which details who was making the offer (ie. the buyer), how (email, in person, etc), at what time, and when the offer was irrevocable.

Every brokerage tracks the “number of registered offers,” and any registrant (ie. agent) can ask the brokerage, at any time, for an updated total.

If there are, say, SIX Form-801’s with the brokerage, then there are six offers.

It doesn’t matter who says they “might” bring an offer, or who “will be showing up late, at 8pm.”  It only matters how many REGISTERED offers there are.

That is the only number that the listing agent can provide.

So in your case, if there were four registered offers, and the agent said there were six, he or she would undoubtedly be disciplined by RECO (after a complaint from you, or another party), and that discipline could range from a fine, to a suspension.



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