You found the home of your dreams. You made an offer, and the seller accepted it. You’ve both signed the purchase and sale agreement. You gave your notice on your apartment. You’ve already got your new favorite coffee shop, grocery store and dry cleaners picked out.
Then the seller backs out. Maybe the job they were relocating to take fell through. Maybe they got cold feet about their own move. Maybe they just decided to stay put. Maybe they won’t say why.
Can they just back out of the sale?
Unless there is a contingency in the agreement that allows the seller to back out for specific reasons (and contingencies for backing out typically protect the buyer), they probably can’t do so without paying one way or another.
If there’s a good reason, like perhaps an unexpected medical or family situation that prevents them from moving, you may not want to initiate legal action. However, you have every right to ask for a refund of your expenses and time as well as some extra for damages. Don’t try to make this kind of deal on your own.
You have a number of options, depending on what you want.
If the seller has no good reason for backing out or declines to give a reason, you have some legal options. Which you choose will depend in part on whether you want to fight for the home or walk away – with fair compensation.
For example, you can seek “specific performance.” That means you’re asking them to follow through on the contract they signed and follow through with the sale and moving out.
You can also seek monetary compensation for the costs you’ve incurred, damages and things like legal fees for bringing the lawsuit and then find another home. Your real estate agent can sue them as well for the money they’ve lost because the seller backed out of the deal.
Before you take any of these actions, it’s wise to seek legal guidance to determine what your rights are, what you deserve and what the best option is for you.