When does an offer to purchase lapse?

Private Property South Africa
Property Power

Lapse of Time

There is usually a blank space in a standard Offer to Purchase Document where you would state, until when the offer is valid to be accepted. If a date is not specified, the offer lapses after a 'reasonable period' depending on the circumstances of all the parties to the agreement. To avoid dispute, always specify when the offer will lapse.


An offer can generally be revoked by the purchaser at any time before the seller accepts the offer, unless the offer is stated as being 'irrevocable' for a certain period and then it must be brought to the attention of the seller within that period.


If the seller rejects the offer (does not accept it), the offer ceases to exist immediately and cannot be accepted later. A counter-offer amounts to a rejection of the original offer. For example, if the purchaser offers to buy the property at a purchase price of R 800 000.00, and the seller deletes the amount and writes R 850 000.00 and initials the change, this is a counter-offer. If the buyer rejects the counter-offer, the seller cannot subsequently accept the original offer of R 800 000.00. A new contract will have to be drawn up.

Death of the offeror or offeree

The offer lapses if either party dies before the offer has been accepted. If either party dies after the offer has been accepted, the rights and duties arising from the contract are passed on to the deceased's estate.

This article originally appeared in Property Power 11th Edition Magazine. To order your copy at the discounted price of R120 click here.

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