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Can a home seller back out once you have a deal?

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2022 | Civil litigation

In today’s housing market, finding a home that you love and can afford isn’t always an easy task, so you’re naturally excited to make a deal on your dream home – until the seller tries to back out of the deal.

Sellers sometimes want to cancel a sale simply because they start feeling nostalgic about the family home, while others may decide that they’re not happy with the price they’ve gotten or something else. Other sales fall apart because they’re part of an estate and family members start to squabble or the seller gets word that someone else is willing to give them more for the property than you.

Whatever the reason, this can put your dream on hold and frustrate you to no end. Is it even legal for a seller to do this to you?

When there’s a dispute, most situations favor the buyer

In a situation like this, you need to review your contract carefully. While most home purchase contracts contain contingencies, these tend to give the buyer – not the seller – more leeway to break the deal. Typically, this includes the right for the buyer to back out if they can’t get financing, the home doesn’t pass inspection or the home appraisal comes back lower than expected.

While less common, however, your contract may give the seller some ability to back out if other contingency clauses are there. For example:

  • There may be a five-day attorney review period during which time the deal can be canceled by either party
  • There may be time limits on you, as the buyer, to get the inspections done and obtain financing which – if you don’t meet them – can give the buyer an “out.”
  • There could be a housing contingency that allows the seller to back out if they cannot find a new home for themselves within a specific time period.

When you’re faced with a complicated and unpleasant situation involving a broken contract, don’t try to handle the situation alone. Experienced legal guidance can help you weather this storm and get your goals back on track.