Definition of "Bona fide"

Isabel Arango real estate agent

Written by

Isabel Arangoelite badge icon

MC Homes Realty, Inc

Countless real estate disputes and financial disagreements occur in our world. At first, anybody could believe that genuineness, honesty, and integrity might have disappeared. However, the concept of bona fide is still present. What does bona fide mean? Suppose you want to define bona fide. The term "bona fide" comes from Latin and translates as "in good faith." Bona fide meaning implies sincerity, genuineness, and truthfulness. 

What is a bona fide offer? In legal settings or real estate (see below!), a bona fide offer or transaction is made genuinely without any attempt to trick or mislead others. In general, if you describe someone (for instance, a bona fide purchaser) as bona fide, you mean they are real or genuine, as opposed to fake or phony. Professional local real estate agents can help you identify a bona fide offer real estate!

What is bona fide in real estate?

Bona fide real estate is more than a simple, excellent idea involving directness and virtue. It's a legal standard influencing people who buy, invest, and sell property. Imagine what buying a house would be like without being bona fide. Sellers could lie about all sorts of things, and buyers wouldn't trust sellers. It would be chaotic.

What makes a bona fide buyer?

Buyers can have a blind fate in the seller. We call them bona fide purchasers because they will buy a home without insinuating that something might be off. In other words, they don't know about any claims or problems related to the asset they’re about to purchase. It's like buying a car without knowing it's stolen. If you're acting bona fide or in good faith, you believe everything's okay with what you're buying.

Suppose you're a bona fide buyer. Then, you will presume the seller has the right to sell the home. You don't know anyone else who has a legal claim to it. You pay the price, sign the papers, and think it's all set and done. This matters because, in the United States, the law often protects bona fide buyers. If something goes wrong but you acted in good faith, you might still get to keep the property. Still, we recommend you be as thorough in your property examination as possible before investing in a home!

How is a bona fide seller?

For those selling property, being bona fide means telling the truth about the state of the home. Say there's a gigantic leak in the roof. You can't just paint over the water stains and act like it's all fine. You have to disclose actual facts to the buyer. That's being bona fide. Fixing all major issues will lead to a fantastic first impression, one of the signs that a home showing went well.

Other domains where people apply bona fide real estate

Bona fide in real estate also applies to other areas. 

Mortgage applications

When you apply for a mortgage, you're asked to present several papers. Banks, credit unions, loan associations, and other lending institutions want to know your income, debts, and credit history. When providing this information, you must be bona fide and honest and not hide anything. If you lie, you could find yourself in considerable legal trouble.

Real estate negotiations

In real estate negotiations, being bona fide also means making earnest offers. You won't undercut the price purposefully to see what might stick. Bona fide offer real estate means presenting a fair offer based on the property value and the market.

Housing experts

Being bona fide extends beyond buying or selling. Real estate agents and brokers are also held to a bona fide standard determined in the code of ethics. Did you know that working with a real estate agent or realtor comes with the perk of genuine or bona fide representation? They have to deal with buyers and sellers honestly, not mislead people about a property's condition, and truly represent their clients' best interests.

Did you fail to be bona fide? You might face legal consequences!

So, what happens if you're not bona fide? There are often legal consequences. If a seller hides information about a house, the buyer might be able to back out of the deal. They might even sue for damages. If a buyer isn't honest with a bank, they could be accused of fraud. That's why being bona fide must be taken very seriously!


In the end, the bona fide definition in real estate creates trust. It's the foundation that buying and selling property rests on. Without honesty, the real estate industry wouldn't work. In a nutshell, it's a straightforward but powerful principle. At all times, be fair and act in good faith! Whether buying your first home or selling real estate, being bona fide shields you even from legal complications. It's a solid handshake that says, "You can trust me."

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