When making a property deal, the seller will generally not want to back out of the deal. However, the seller may change his mind for reasons such as getting a better offer from someone else, some circumstances that would determine him to sell the property or any other apprehensions the seller may have. The course of action available to the buyer would then be to seek damages from the seller, terminate the contract and recover the amount of the deposit with additional expenses incurred, or go to court to seek enforcement of the purchase agreement.

The buyer should beware of the fact that, despite the legal remedies mentioned above, the seller may have included some contingency clause in the agreement that would allow the seller to back out of the contract without incurring penalties, for example, if the contract has a provision for the seller to back out if he cannot find another home to reside in despite making a genuine attempt to do so, taking legal action against the buyer in such a scenario would probably amount to very little.

Claim damages

The buyer may be able to claim damages if the seller deliberately breaches the contract and results in a financial loss to the buyer. Even if there is no additional financial loss to the buyer, and the seller’s breach of contract was despite the seller’s best and sincere intentions, the buyer should in all probability be able to recover the amount of the deposit with interest and any additional expenses, such as real estate attorney’s fees, or the cost of a premises inspection, from the seller. Damages could be higher if the seller is found to have backed out due to insincerity, for example, the seller may have received a better offer for the same property. The amount of the claim would depend on the additional financial loss suffered by the buyer.

Finished the contract

The buyer can terminate the contract and reclaim the deposited money from the seller in scenarios where the contract was invalid or not signed by both parties, or if the seller breached the contract. The amount deposited can usually be successfully claimed by the buyer even if there is no refund clause in the contract.

Enforce the contract through a court order

The seller can go to court to be ordered to complete the deal. This is an option primarily in cases where the seller is able, but unwilling, to sell the property. In addition, the buyer must be able to fulfill his part of the agreement and the contract must list very clearly, without any ambiguity, all the necessary details, such as the amount of the down payment, the security deposit, the legal description of the property and any other property included in it, the financing details, the terms and conditions, etc. If the court finds that the seller is breaching the purchase agreement for the seller’s personal gain, there is a good chance that the court will order performance of the contract resulting in termination of the deal.

If you find yourself in such a situation, your primary considerations should be whether the seller’s actions violated the sales agreement and how you can regain physical possession of the property or at least your money. It is always advisable to contact a specialized property lawyer or law firm that can safeguard your interests against a delinquent seller.

This article is for informational purposes only for people looking to buy or sell real estate and should not be construed as legal advice. If you are looking for legal advice, you can contact ADB & Partners.