Q: We’re in the middle of purchasing a house, and the seller has been less than quick in agreeing to repairs we requested based on our home inspector’s report.

Since we weren’t getting anywhere with the seller, we sent him a termination and release form signed by my wife and me. Once they received our termination letter, they decided to counter by agreeing to make all of the repairs we had originally asked for.

We were told that by signing this document, we were free and clear to end this deal. However, our real estate agent now tells us that we are legally required to move forward with the deal.

Is this true? Why shouldn’t we be able to cancel the agreement when they did not agree to make the repairs to the property? Do we have any legal right to get our earnest money back?

A: What does the contract for purchase that you signed say about termination? Many contracts require that you terminate your contract in writing. If you terminated the contract in writing, and followed any other requirements of the termination paragraph in your contract, then you should be done. The seller can’t come back and say, “Okay, I now accept your terms” and force you to agree.

Your biggest problem is that you’re taking legal advice from a real estate agent. Unless your agent is an attorney, she is not qualified to tell you whether you are legally required to move forward with this deal.

Please speak to a competent real estate attorney who can review your documents with you tell you whether you need to proceed or can walk away from this deal and collect your earnest money.

Published: Jul 22, 2006