feet? Don't be a runaway seller
As a potential seller, I signed a seller-and-buyer
agreement on my home for a specific amount of money and specified
closing date three months from now. My wife and I have decided not
to sell our home at this time. Can the potential buyer force me to
close the deal on the date previously agreed upon? -- Dean
Seller's remorse is not an unusual occurrence
in a home sale. Often it's caused by sellers feeling they've agreed
to sell too cheaply or realizing their emotional attachment to the
home is more acute that they thought. Signing a contract to sell
can amplify these sentiments, at least temporarily.
But unless the buyer is having trouble with financing or not meeting
some other condition of the contract, you may find yourself in an
untenable position. Of course, there's always a chance that a buyer
may find, or have found, another home to his liking and may consent
to withdraw the offer. This isn't awfully likely, although it's
not unheard of, especially if the buyer is feeling remorse as well
or wants to avoid confrontation.
Even in that event, you may be obliged to pay all or part of the
listing agent's commission, assuming you're using a broker, particularly
if the agent or agents clearly found you a "ready, willing
and able buyer" as spelled out in the terms of your listing
The reality is that the buyer holds most of the trump cards in
these situations. Upon informing the buyer of your intent to cancel
the deal, you'd probably get a letter from an attorney explaining
the consequences of not closing the sale. If you persist in your
position, the buyer's attorney may then pursue actual recourse by
filing what's called a "specific-performance" lawsuit
against you and recording a "lis pendens" against the
title of your home to prevent you from refinancing or selling to
another buyer for some time to come. A suit for specific performance
is a legal action aimed at enforcing performance of the terms of
a contract. Lis pendens is a legal notice of pending lawsuit involving
real property and notifying anyone acquiring an interest in the
property following the date of the notice that they may be bound
by the outcome of the lawsuit.
In other words, it could quickly get ugly.
I suggest you quickly consult with a real estate attorney to study
your contract and explore your options. But before you make a firm
decision to literally hold your ground, sit down and make two lists.
The first should include all your reasons for deciding to sell in
the first place. The second should include your reasons for not
selling. The fact that you went as far as you did in the process
indicates you may have more legitimate reasons for putting the place
up for sale than not. Now, unfortunately, you can add "expensive
legal challenge" to the first list.
Of course, you may be given -- or even suggest -- the option of
a financial settlement with the other parties and could conceivably
remain in your house, if it's really worth that much to you.
But it's probably best to not let facts and signed contracts take
a backseat to impulse on this one.