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When can a seller cancel the sale?

Finding the perfect home is not easy. There are so many considerations, including price, square footage, number of bathrooms and location. Once you have found a house that checks every item on your wish list, you put down your deposit and sign a contract. You probably have a good feeling because the sellers are motivated.

Did you sell your house next? Did you put your things into storage and find a temporary home because you felt like this was a done deal? Then, for some reason, the sellers backed out. Where does this leave you?

Acceptable reasons to back out

When you sign a contract to purchase a home, it is legally binding, but most contracts have contingency clauses to protect both you and the sellers. As frustrating as it may be, the sellers may have a perfectly legal reason to cancel the sale. For example, any of the following conditions may exist:

  • You and the sellers did not have a signed contract.
  • The sellers backed out within the contract's five-day review period.
  • Your sellers may have included certain contingencies in the contract allowing them to renege on the deal, such as finding a new home of their own.
  • You were not able to obtain financing within the contract's allotted time.
  • You requested repairs a home inspector suggested, and the sellers were not willing to make those repairs or lower the price of the house.

Once you have signed a contract, sellers cannot cancel the sale of their home simply because they can't find an acceptable new place or they get a better offer, unless they have included those contingencies in the contract. To do so is unethical, and you may have legal recourse.

Options to consider when the deal falls through

One path you may choose is to take the sellers to court and force them to complete the sale. Of course, this takes time and money, and you may prefer to cut your losses and restart the home search. But what about all the money you spent on a hotel room or apartment while you waited for the deal to go through? What about storage for your furniture and other belongings and the funds you shelled out for having the house inspected and surveyed?

You may have options. With the right legal assistance, you may be able to convince the sellers to reimburse you for those damages. If negotiations don't work, your attorney may suggest filing a claim to recoup your losses from the seller in Texas civil court.

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