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When a Property Seller Pulls Out of the Deal : What Now?

Posted by Jayson Ang on April 2, 2023
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From searching for your perfect home, negotiating prices, managing finances, and looking into different home loan options, you need to do your best to ensure a successful purchase.

But what if the seller unexpectedly withdraws?

Are they even allowed to do that?

And if so, is the buyer entitled to any form of compensation?

Until a contract has been made and accepted, neither the buyer nor seller are obligated to the other party.

At the start of the selling process, before any contracts have been signed, the seller still has the right to pull out of the transaction if they no longer wish to sell their property – even if the buyer has been viewing listings and setting up meetings to view the property in person.

Thus, if you’ve expressed interest verbally but haven’t yet been handed an Option to Purchase (OTP) or sales agreement, the seller is able to revoke their offer without consequence.

When Sellers Cannot Back Out of the Deal

After putting pen to paper on the OTP, things are now undeniably official.

Once the seller issues an OTP, and if you decide to exercise the OTP, you and the seller enter into a binding contract.

It’s essential to read the OTP details carefully to see if the seller is able to withdraw from the agreement once the OTP has been exercised; while typically the seller is not allowed to back out once the OTP has been exercised, buyers typically can withdraw but will forfeit any deposits or option fees they have paid.

When you exercise an OTP, you may be required to sign a sales agreement, making it binding for both you and the seller. Unfortunately, this contract leaves no room for backing out; if the seller fails to uphold their end, any option fees or deposits paid by you must be refunded.

You could consider taking legal action against the seller to make them stick to their obligations; however, unless they have not refunded your money or caused you to suffer huge losses, it might not be worth going through the hassle or expense.

How to Protect Yourself Against ‘Bad’ Sellers

Most of the time, sellers don’t back out of property transactions – but there are some simple steps you can take to avoid any potential troubles from a reluctant seller.

1. Find Out Why They Are Selling the Property

When you chat with the seller or the agent, observe if the seller appears determined to sell the property, or if it looks like they are somewhat undecided.

Asking the seller or agent why they are selling can help you spot an uncertain seller. If the seller is simply upgrading their home, that’s usually a sign they are eager to sell.

However, if it appears they are just trying to see what price they can get for their home without a pressing need to get rid of it, they might not go through with the transaction.

2. Pay Close Attention To The Seller’s Responsiveness And Adherence To Deadlines

If the seller fails to fulfill their commitments, isn’t punctual for viewings, or does not adhere to timelines, there is a chance they may not follow through as promised.

Pay close attention to how they answer your calls, respond to your requests for information, and if they issue the OTP or sales agreement when they said they would.

3. Read the OTP and Sales Agreement Carefully Before Signing

Before signing any documents, it’s critical to thoroughly read through all contracts, such as the OTP and sales agreement, which will outline your rights and obligations as well as those of the seller.

Be sure to double-check if there are any stipulations that allow the seller to back out of the deal or end the contract, and if that doesn’t sit well with you, then speak up and try to have them removed.

4. Keep a Copy of All Communications

It’s essential to keep all communication with the seller and agent – whether in person, via text, or email – in order to have a paper trail should you ever enter into a dispute.

Be sure to save a copy of all messages sent and received for your records. To ensure that verbal conversations are not forgotten or misconstrued, it’s best to write down and acknowledge the details of the agreement in a text or email afterwards.

This way, you’ll have solid evidence of any verbal agreements made with the seller.

5. Know Your Rights When Dealing with Sellers

To guard yourself from any possible disputes, it’s wise to take a few precautionary steps before signing any documents, such as reading all contracts thoroughly and saving a copy of all interactions with the seller and their agent.

Despite the fact that most sellers don’t end up obstructing their property transactions, it’s always prudent to be aware of your and the seller’s rights, as well as keep an eye out for a seller who may be untrustworthy.

Should You Buy, Sell or Wait?

If you’re reading this, you must be trying to figure out the best course of action right now: is it the right time to buy or sell?

It’s difficult to give an exact answer since everyone’s situation is unique and what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

I can bring you a wealth of on-the-ground experience and a data-driven approach to provide clarity and direction. From beginners to experienced investors, our top-down, objective approach will help you on your real estate journey.

I can help you by:

  1. Offering Strategic Real Estate Advice – I can help create a comprehensive plan to guide you through your property journey.
  2. Connecting Your Home with the Perfect Buyers – Through stunning visuals, an effective communication strategy, and an in-depth knowledge of the market, we’ll ensure your home is presented in the best possible way to fulfill your goals.

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