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If a Home Seller Backs Out of a Sales Contract

If you're in the process of buying a house, then you know how stressful it can be with all the paperwork and moving. It can be even worse if the seller suddenly decides not to sell, especially if you're close to closing the deal.
When a seller suddenly backs off and decides not to sell, it can cause you financial damage. However, you may have legal recourse if this happens. Here is more information on why a seller might back out and remedies available to you as a buyer.
Reasons Sellers Back Out
A seller's decision to back out can include emotional and practical reasons. Here are four common reasons why a seller may want to terminate the contract.
They Decided to Keep Living in the Home
Sometimes, sellers have remorse over selling a home that has emotional significance to them. They may simply change their mind and wish to continue to live in the home or pass it down to their heirs.
They Had a Job Offer or New Home Purchase Fall Through
The current owners may have had their plans to purchase a new home or move to another state fail. In this case, they would have to stay where they are at as they could be essentially homeless otherwise. Many sellers put a contingency clause in their contracts that says they will only sell if they complete the purchase of another home.
They Received a Better Offer
It's not unusual for a seller to get a better offer after they've already started the closing paperwork. They may try to back out because of this but cite other reasons for doing so.
They Had an Escape Clause
An escape clause is basically an easy out for the seller. Most of the time it indicates that they may terminate the contract for almost any reason. This is why it's extremely important to go over your contract with a fine-tooth comb, as these clauses can be worded in a tricky way.
Remedies Available to You as a Buyer
Fortunately, as a buyer, you have some remedies if the seller backs out, especially if your contract is well-negotiated. Here are three common ways you can deal with a seller that wants out.
Terminate the Contract
If you understand the reasons why the seller has backed out and feel that you've suffered no damages, then you can agree to terminate the contract. You would be entitled to any deposit and possibly some of the other fees already invested.
Force the Seller to Sell the Home
If the buyer is being extremely unreasonable and you're dead set on buying that home, then you can force them to sell through the court. However, judges rarely force a sale if the seller is still going to be living in the home. You would have to prove that the seller breached the contract because they got a better offer or something similar.
Sue for Damages
If you've already moved out or sold your old home and have invested in other moving or sales-related expenses, then you can sue for more than just the deposits. Examples of this include storage fees, temporary housing, or even certain living expenses.
If you're in the process of closing on a home and have an enforceable contract, then the seller can't back out without consequences. One of the best things you can do is to hire an attorney as soon as you begin the closing process. He or she can go over the contract and help you if the other side does not hold up to their end of the bargain.
Smith, Massey, Brodie, Guynn & Mayes,  P.A., can help you with your real estate contract issues if you've experienced damages result of a seller backing out of the deal. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.