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Can a homeowner refuse to complete a home sale?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2018 | Blog |

When a homeowner goes to the trouble of putting a house up for sale, you probably expect that he or she is serious about making the sale. After all, putting your house on the market means making needed repairs and cosmetic upgrades, hiring a real estate agent and enduring the tedious process of opening your house to prospective buyers.

If you found a house you would love to buy, you trust that the owner is ready to sell because he has done all of these things. So, when the seller backs out of the sale, do you have any recourse?

Legitimate reasons to walk away

House hunting is often a challenge. You probably had a long list of must-haves and an equally long wish list. Finding a house that meets most of your criteria is exciting, and you were probably eager to get the process going so you could look forward to moving in and making the house your own. If the seller suddenly canceled the sale, you may wonder if he or she is within legal boundaries to do so.

A homeowner can walk away from a sale for a few specific reasons, for example:

  • You never signed a contract, or you haven’t yet reached the point where a contract was on the table.
  • You signed a contract, but the seller canceled it within the five-day review period.
  • You signed a contract, but the seller included a clause in the contract allowing him or her to back out for specific reasons, like not being able to find a new home.
  • You completed a home inspection and requested repairs that the owner was not willing to make.
  • You signed a contract but were unable to meet the agreed-upon terms, such as obtaining financing within a certain time.

Aside from these legally acceptable reasons, most of which refer to contingencies in a signed contract, your seller is bound to follow through on the sale. In other words, the seller cannot cancel the sale simply because of a change of heart.

Options when the seller quits

Enforcing the contract is not easy, and you may decide the best thing for you, saving time and money, is to walk away from the house and renew your search, wish list in hand. However, you probably already invested money in the purchase of this house, for example, paying for home inspection, surveys and the cost of storage and temporary housing.

You may wish to discuss with a Michigan attorney the feasibility of seeking to recoup those funds from the seller. Your attorney may even suggest that it is worthwhile to take the homeowner to court to force the sale of the home.


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