You’ve sold your home and are excited about the fact that you sold for well over your list price and in a short amount of time. You’ve popped the champagne and put the “SOLD” sign up, it’s now time to start thinking about your move to your new home. Your agent removes all of the staging furniture and other staging items and your house sits semi-empty until your move date as you put all of your furniture in storage in order to stage your home. You then receive a phone call from your agent a couple of weeks later to inform you that the buyers have decided to back out of the deal. Your heart starts to pound and your mind starts to race but you keep telling yourself that they can’t back out since you have a signed contract and a deposit. However, no matter how much you try to convince yourself that everything will be ok, the same question keeps popping up in your head: “can a buyer back out of a real estate deal?”
Read below to find out.
Even though the buyer has informed you that they don’t plan to move forward with closing the deal, the good news for you is that the real estate laws in Ontario do not include any type of cooling off period for resale real estate which would allow a buyer to back out of a deal within a certain period of time once the contract is firm and all conditions are fulfilled. If a buyer doesn’t close on a deal, they will typically face legal action if the seller decides to take that route. A buyer could be held accountable for any loss you as the seller incur should you need to re-list your home and you do not receive the same offer that they had originally made, including covering any legal fees, carrying costs and out-of-pocket expenses, among other expenses.
Keep in mind, a buyer still may choose to back out of a deal and incur legal expenses and potential settlement costs if they feel that it would be the financially wiser option for their particular circumstances as opposed to what they had otherwise committed to paying in order to close the deal.
With the market being as volatile as it has been due to rising interest rates, we have been seeing more deals not closing than we have seen in recent years. There are now more risks to consider when listing your home for sale than there has been over the last several years. In some cases, buyers may be using the threat of not closing as an opportunity to negotiate the price.
With each new interest rate hike announcement, buyers and their agents understand that sellers are likely under more stress and may be willing to negotiate on the price in order to get the deal done and move forward with their plans.
In addition to the above, we are seeing an increase in home appraisals required by lenders. If the buyer drastically over paid for your property and the appraised amount listed in the appraisal report comes in much lower, the buyer may be required by their lender to make up the difference out of pocket which could result in them attempting to negotiate the final sale price down from what they originally had offered. Should this happen, you will need to decide if you are willing to negotiate and by how much. If you decide to negotiate, your agent will negotiate on your behalf based on your instructions and if you and the buyer come to an agreement based on a reduced price, you will sign an amendment in order to lower the final sale price. If the parties are not able to come to an agreement, both the seller’s lawyer and buyer’s lawyer will get involved.
It is important to keep in mind that the legal process can take some time and can be costly if dragged out, so you will want to seriously consider your options before making a final decision as to how you want to proceed.
The good news for you as a seller is that it’s more uncommon for a buyer to back out of a deal than it is for them to follow through and close on a deal. There are also laws that protect you and working with the right real estate agent and real estate lawyer will make the selling process a smoother one. By working with a reputable real estate agent and real estate lawyer, you will be in good hands should you run into the rare case of a buyer trying to back out of your real estate deal.
Have you been thinking of making a move? Whether you are selling or buying, feel free to contact me any time with your real estate questions. I’m always happy to help.