Q: My fiancé and I offered to buy a home owned by a bank. The bank responded to our offer but said they would not pay for any FHA fees or for any of the inspections.

There are two other offers on this home by other potential buyers. Those other buyers are also obtaining FHA loans. Before responding to our offer, the bank asked whether we would be willing to still buy the home even if the home did not appraise out for the amount we offered for the home. If we did, we would have to pay the bank the difference in cash.

We didn’t agree to their terms relating to the appraisal but they responded to our offer. About two days later, the listing agent for the home told our agent that the bank was negotiating with another buyer and left us completely in the dark.

We were almost sure we got this house and I fear that the listing agent or bank or someone is playing games with us. It almost seems to me that the listing agent may be trying to get a friend or client of hers to get this house.

What should we do in this situation? Is there any way we can find out what is going on? If we haven’t heard anything back from them for such a long time does this mean we will probably not get it?

Our agent is out of the country and we’re working with her replacement.

A: You should face the fact that you probably did not get the house. When a seller is faced with multiple offers for a home, the seller may pick and choose which offer to accept. Until the parties sign a contract for the purchase and sale of the home, the deal may be up for grabs.

While the bank may have responded to your offer, that response might have been verbal and the bank may have decided to go a different way when a different buyer offered more or offered the bank a better deal.

In the best of real estate markets, the old adage of buyer beware holds true. During the recent real estate housing crash, that adage continues to apply.

You don’t know you have a deal with a seller or a buyer until both parties have signed on the dotted line. You should also know that in some parts of the country, buyers and sellers can sign a real estate contract and if that contract contains a provision that allows the buyer or seller to have his or her attorney review and approve the contract, either party might be able to cancel the deal during that review process.

While you may suspect “funny” business going on with the listing broker, you might be wrong about that. While there are some real estate agents that may try to work a deal in favor of that real estate agent’s clients, far more real estate agents in multiple bid situations actually work to try to get the seller the highest price and the best deal they can for their seller.

Usually, the higher the sales price, the more money the listing broker will make. Furthermore, if the listing agent finds a buyer that is more qualified to buy the home, offers a higher amount and is willing to close sooner, the listing broker will likely try to influence the seller to accept that buyer’s offer.

While there is a possibility that the listing broker is trying to freeze you out of the purchase of the home, the information you have included in your letter does not provide any clues that would lead me to believe that anything irregular that has occurred.

If you find out more, please keep me posted.

In the meantime, when your agent comes back from vacation, be sure to have a conversation about the situation and ask him or her to follow up.

For more information on other situations that affect REO or bank owned properties, read these other articles:

Bad News For Real Estate Market: Unemployment and Foreclosure Continue Into 2010

Short Sale Process Problems Arise When Contractor Liens Home

What Happens After Foreclosure?