Can the Seller Back Out of a Real Estate Contract?

When you sign a purchase agreement for a real estate sale, you tend to assume everything is going to proceed smoothly from that point onward. After all, it does seem like the hardest part is getting loan approval and shopping for a home. But things can and do go wrong after a contract is signed, and sometimes one party wants to back out of the agreement.

Sellers may try to back out of contracts for a variety of reasons, but it’s often because they believe they can get a higher price and make a better profit. This was a very common problem a few years ago when the market was so hot that values increased on a weekly basis. It’s not as common today, but Temecula real estate attorneys do still see these cases. So what is a buyer to do when the seller tries to back out of the agreement?

Breach of contract works a bit differently in real estate cases. Normally, breach of contract might be solved by granting the wronged party monetary damages. However, there is a presumption that real estate is unique. The court recognizes that for a family trying to purchase a place to live, simply being awarded some money for their trouble is not adequate justice for the problem. If quick action is taken, the sale can indeed be forced. The court can make the seller abide by the terms in the original contract, and the sale can proceed. This court action is called a “specific performance.”

The key is to act quickly for the very best resolution to the problem. If the seller has time to line up another buyer, it will no longer be possible for the original buyer and his real estate attorney to force the sale of the home. The best we can hope for in this situation is receiving monetary damages.

When you’re trying to purchase a home, stay on top of the process at every stage. Ask for a reason behind any delays, and trust your instincts if you sense suspicious behavior. If you contact a real estate attorney at the first sign that the seller may breach contract, you’ll have a much better chance of success in court.


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