Q: I signed a contract to buy a house. We were supposed to close within 30 days.
Unfortunately, the seller did not turn on the gas on so that the furnace could be tested. So, the closing date has already passed. Now the seller wants to rent the house out and not sell the house at all to me.
We asked that the gas be turned on so that the furnace could be tested because this was an issue in our inspection. My real estate agent then put in the extension line for settlement “TBD” but with not date. Can the seller just walk away from the deal?
A: If there was no firm date for you to buy the home, there may not have been a true contract agreed to. Depending on where you live, the back and forth of the contract documents may have ended up with you and the seller never agreeing to the terms of a contract. If there was no agreement, there was no contract and the seller is free to sell the home or rent it to someone other than you.
If you signed a contract and the contract was binding, then the question is what notice was given to the seller regarding the home inspection. If the notice given to the seller was that you did not approve of the inspection to the home due to the gas being off, that notice might have been construed as your disapproval of the condition of the property. If you disapproved the condition, the contract would have died at that time.
So, the first thing you need to determine is whether there was a valid contract for the purchase of the home. Then you need to know whether the notice to the seller regarding the gas and furnace also included language that could have terminated the contract. Lastly, you would have to know what your rights and remedies are under the contract if it is still valid.
You failed to buy the home and the seller did not turn on the gas for you to test the furnace. You probably were not assisted in this process by an attorney and if you want to force the seller to sell you the home, you’ll have to hire an attorney to review the paperwork and, perhaps, sue the seller to force the sale.
On the other hand, if you get your deposit money back from the seller, you may ultimately decide that the best course of action is to find another home to buy.
For more guidance, you should discuss your problem with a real estate attorney in your area.