Cancel House Contract Before Closing

Q: We are under contract to buy a house and we’re supposed to close tomorrow. Is there any way we can get out from under the contract and cancel the escrow? We are sick of the house already.

A: I don’t know if you can cancel your contract. You have to review your contract to see whether there is a legitimate out for you other than being “sick of the house already.”

Typically, contracts don’t provide an out for people who simply change their mind. I’m not an attorney, but a purchase contract binds a buyer and a seller to a specific deal. If your seller had wanted to cancel the contract to sell the home to another buyer who had offered more money, you would be running to court to sue the seller. Likewise, a seller may have legal rights against you if you fail to honor the terms of the agreement.

Contracts give buyers some ability to get out of the deal. These outs are usually related to your inability to get financing, if the house doesn’t pass inspection, if the house doesn’t appraise out in value, or if the seller is unable to give you clean title to the home. But in each of these instances, the contract usually has a provision that would give you the right to walk from the deal.

If you don’t have a legal right to walk from the deal, the seller will have certain legal rights against you for your failure to close. Typically you might forfeit your down payment or earnest money deposit. But in some cases, the contract might allow the seller to sue you for damages. Those damages could be far in excess of your down payment or earnest money deposit.

The best person to talk to is a real estate attorney, who can look over the documents you’ve signed and help you figure out what’s going on with your deal, help you negotiate a termination of the contract, and lessen your damages under the contract.

March 20, 2009


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3 Responses to Cancel House Contract Before Closing

  1. nonkosazana says:

    The seller don’t have a money for the repairs but now the agent want us to sign the happy letter but we are not happy we been waiting for the house for 4 months now & the attorney said to us the repairs Will take a month to do it but now is to long ,& agent said to us we we wait antil we sign the happy letter the seller don’t have a money the attorny of the Call us of the bank said to us the House is been done when we go and see the House there is nothing has been done ,we want to cancel the contract now

  2. PAUL HESS says:

    WE PURCHASED A HOUSE TO BE BUILT SUPPOSE TO CLOSE IN MARCH
    2016. JUST HAD PROSTATE CANCER SURGERY. HAVE TO HAVE RADIATION
    NOT SURE WHEN. HAVE TO BE IN CONTROL WITH MY BLADDER FIRST.
    CAME DOWN WITH THIS AFTER WE STARTED HAVING BUILT. OUR BAD
    LUCK. I’M A VIETNAM VET. CAN WE GET OUT OF THIS HOME?

  3. Shauda Johnson says:

    My fiancé and I are in the process of buying our first home..for the past year! yes you heard right..a year. We applied for the SONYMA loan, got pre approved for 325,000 and started house hunting. We found a home that was perfect for us at 320,000 and submitted an offer. Thankfully it was accepted, we put down our deposit and started the process..that was june 2015. So here we are with still no closing date. The sellers have been absolutely wonderful and kind, they have submitted everything the bank has asked for. We have also been more than compliant and provided everything in a timely manner. We recently received another GFE with inflated numbers, I found this odd because we had already sent and signed our GFE back in oct 2015. To my knowledge nothing had changed. We have been in constant contact with the mortgage processor and she never mentioned any changes. We never received any notification via mail, email or by phone call. It has been a circus with these people and we are both fed up and seriously considering pulling the plug. My question is..can we get our down payment back, and are we in any danger of being sued by the seller..Keep in mind we have yet to receive a closing date..Thank you all who can provide some advice

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