Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan
professional agent and homebuyers negotiating
Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan

    Understanding the Right of First Refusal in Real Estate Deals

    The world of real estate is riddled with complex jargon that could leave the uninitiated feeling overwhelmed. One such term that frequently surfaces is the Right of First Refusal (ROFR), which is as intriguing as it is significant.

    Importance of Understanding ROFR in Real Estate Deals

    Grasping the essence of ROFR can provide strategic advantages in property transactions, whether you are a seller seeking to retain control over who becomes the new owner, or a buyer looking for a specific piece of real estate. Our aim in this blog post is to demystify ROFR, explaining its workings, benefits, drawbacks, and its impact on property transactions.

    Definition and Concept of Right of First Refusal

    ROFR is a contractual agreement allowing an individual or entity to purchase a property before the owner can sell it to another party. The holder of the ROFR must match the terms the prospective buyer offers. The principle behind ROFR is providing the holder with a safeguard to prevent unwanted sales. It assures the holder that if the property owner decides to sell, they have the first chance to buy. ROFR is pivotal in maintaining control over property sales. It ensures that owners can sell their property without worrying about it falling into the wrong hands, while potential buyers can secure desired properties.

    How Right of First Refusal Works

    In ROFR, there are three key parties: 

    • the property owner

    • the holder of the ROFR (which can be a tenant, neighbor, or shareholder in a cooperative)

    • a third-party prospective buyer.

    ROFR is often invoked where it’s important to control who occupies the property, such as in:

    • Lease agreements

    • co-op housing scenarios

    • condominium or homeowners associations

    Once the property owner receives an offer, they must notify the holder of the ROFR, providing details of the offer. The holder has a set period to accept or reject. If they accept, a sale proceeds on the given terms. If they reject or fail to respond, the owner can sell to the third party.

    Benefits and Drawbacks of the Right of First Refusal

    ROFR can make a property more attractive to potential tenants, add control over future property sales, and expedite sales processes. Holders of ROFR have an advantage in securing a desired property and may even have a strategic advantage in negotiations.

    ROFR can create complications in the sales process and potentially deter some buyers. Additionally, disputes can arise over whether the ROFR holder was given the proper opportunity to purchase.

    Talking to a real estate agent

    Understanding the Difference Between ROFR and Preemptive Rights

    Preemptive rights are similar to ROFR but apply to the issue of new shares in a company, allowing existing shareholders to maintain their proportionate ownership. While both ROFR and preemptive rights offer protection, they differ in context. ROFR applies to property transactions, while preemptive rights pertain to corporate shares.

    Common Misconceptions and Pitfalls to Avoid

    A common misconception is that the ROFR holder can purchase the property at their desired price, while the truth is they must match the terms of the third-party offer. Potential pitfalls include misunderstanding the ROFR terms, not providing correct or timely notification, and dealing with a holder who is slow to respond. Always consult a real estate attorney to understand the ROFR terms thoroughly, ensure timely and correct notifications, and be patient with the process.

    How ROFR Impacts Real Estate Transactions

    ROFR can potentially affect property value and marketability as it may deter buyers who do not wish to deal with potential complications. ROFR can impact negotiations, as holders may use their position to leverage better terms. Buyers and sellers need to consider the implications of ROFR – the potential delay, legal complications, and the risk of deals falling through.

    To learn more about the next steps in selling a property, read How to Review and Offer When Selling Your Property and How to Submit a Counter-Offer When Selling Your Property.


    In this post, we've demystified ROFR, exploring its definition, workings, benefits, drawbacks, and impacts on real estate transactions. Understanding ROFR is crucial for both sellers and buyers, allowing them to navigate the real estate landscape effectively. Navigating ROFR can be complex, and it’s always advisable to seek professional advice to ensure a smooth and successful transaction. 

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