It seemed like a great idea at first – selling your house and buying one that's bigger, smaller, in another town, or closer to work.
So you found an agent, listed your house, and before you knew it, you received an offer. That's when it hit you ... “I don't want to sell my house anymore!”
You have seller's remorse.
Don't worry; it's totally normal. It's your home – it’s natural to have second thoughts. But what if you have an offer already?
“Can I decide not to sell my house?”
The short answer is yes.
The longer answer is also yes, but backing out gets risker and more difficult the farther along you get in the process. When you haven't accepted an offer, it's still fairly easy to not sell.
If your potential buyer offered less than the listing price, you can reject it, no questions asked. But you might be in a tougher position if the offer was for the full list price of the house. Some states legally require you to accept a full-price offer if it doesn't include contingencies.
What Are Contingencies?
When someone makes an offer on a house, the contract often includes conditions that the buyer or seller must meet before the closing can happen. Typical contingencies include:
- The buyer must get a mortgage approval
- The inspection must reveal no major issues
- The buyer must sell his or her current home
If there are contingencies on the contract, or if you live in a state that allows you to reject any offer, then you have the freedom to do so. Some might consider the rejection of a full-price offer to be less than ethical, but it's very often legal.
"But I already accepted an offer!"
Can you change your mind about selling your house if you've already said “yes” to an offer? Often, the answer is yes, but it can be difficult – if it was a formal offer.
Unless the offer was specific and left no room for further negotiation, it wasn’t technically a formal offer. Something like “I can probably swing around $400,000” doesn't cut it, even if you've said “sure.” Not even if you've shaken on it.
Even if the offer is definite and unambiguous, you can still go back on your acceptance if you haven't signed anything. Saying “no” after you've said “yes” might take your buyer by surprise, but a verbal contract isn't legally binding. If you have signed a contract, though, you'll have more roadblocks to canceling.
How to Cancel a House Contract
Even if you and your buyer have signed an agreement, there are certain points at which you still have an “out.” Should the buyer fail to fulfill his or her specified responsibilities by the specified deadline, you can cancel the contract. Just make sure that you do it according to the laws of your state.
There may also be cases in which the lender's appraiser or home inspector suggests that the property might be worth less than the offered price. In these cases, the buyer will often request a lower price. You can then say no and walk away.
Canceling in Escrow
Escrow is one of those terms that you usually don't have to deal with until you buy or sell a home. It sounds intimidating, but it really only means that you and your buyer have signed the contract and the buyer has placed cash into a third-party “escrow” account. The money stays in the account until closing.
If you're in escrow and your buyer is on track with the completion of any contingencies, check to see if your end of the contract includes any stipulations. These can range from signing on a new home or securing approval from family members.
Technically, you can still cancel the contract even if you haven't stipulated a right to do so. Be aware, though, that doing so puts you at risk of legal or financial consequences.
Breach of Contract
If you fail to deliver on your end of the contract but the buyer upholds his or hers, you're officially in breach of contract. At that point, you're at the mercy of your buyer.
Your buyer might take pity on your situation and let you out of the contract, but he or she could also potentially take you to court for failing to deliver. In that case, the court could order the sale completed.
There's also your agent to consider. By signing on with him or her, you've given a right to sell. Some agents would feel that it's worth the money to sue you for lost income in that case.
Avoiding the Courtroom
Going to court is expensive and takes up a lot of time. If you're willing to reimburse your agent and/or buyer for any losses incurred due to the uncompleted sale, they might let you off the hook. Expect to pay:
- The buyer's inspection fees
- The buyer's legal expenses
- Your agent's fees and commissions
- Your agent's marketing expenses.
There may be other expenses that your buyer or agent will claim. If you can manage to pay them, it's usually your best chance of getting to stay in your home.
Avoid the Headache – Sell and Stay Instead
Getting out of a home sale contract can be difficult, and can leave you feeling guilty, but try not to feel too bad. It's common to lose your nerve at the thought of leaving your home! If you managed to get yourself out and still have your house, go ahead and pat yourself on the back.
But what if you still need the money from the equity?
EasyKnock has a solution. It's called Sell and Stay, and it lets you sell your home without having to leave.
The process is simple. EasyKnock buys your home and signs a leaseback agreement with you. You can stay in your home as a tenant and keep paying rent until you feel ready to buy the house back or move.
Get Your Equity Without Leaving Home
There's no place like home. When you're faced with the idea of having to leave it in order to access needed equity, why wouldn't you have second thoughts?
How does it feel to know that you can have it both ways? It seems too good to be true, but it's not!
EasyKnock knows how much your home means to you, and we're happy to help you keep it. Contact us today and find out how.