You’ve scrimped and saved for a downpayment. You spent weeks or months scouting neighborhoods, getting your financial paperwork in order, checking out lenders and looking at houses. You’ve finally found the home you want, made and offer – and it was accepted.
Your excitement and delight can turn to dismay, however, when the seller starts making noises about canceling deal. Can they do that?
Sellers sometimes want to back out of deals for all kinds of reasons
Your sellers may be trying to back out simply because nostalgia got to them and they no longer want to sell – and some may have another offer on the table that gives them more money or some other perceived advantage.
Whatever their reason for the switch, it may not matter unless one of the following is true:
- The contract has not yet been signed. Until you have a signed agreement, you don’t really have a deal.
- The contract is in an attorney review period. If there’s an attorney review clause in the contract, even a signed deal isn’t really solid until that ends.
- There’s some flaw on your end. If you, as the buyer, agreed to certain terms and you don’t meet them, that can give the seller an escape hatch. For example, a failure to get your funding approved within a certain time limit could do it.
- There’s a contingency that lets the seller out. Some sellers are savvy enough to include clauses that give them the right to back out of the deal if they’re unable to, for example, find a new home in their price range.
- They have your agreement. If you want to let the seller out of the deal, you can – but you’re certainly under no obligation.
Aside from these situations, however, sellers can’t just decide to cancel a deal. If they do, you may be able to request damages for any losses you’ve incurred or even force them to go through with the deal they already made. If you’re a homebuyer and you encounter trouble, it may be time to get some legal guidance.