Most likely you have an out unless:
1) Your contingencies have been removed or expired or
2) You signed an addendum or additional contract that says the contrary.
If you are within the 17 days inspection contingency removal period in California or the owner dose not except your offer or counters and you don't except you should be able to get deposit and other money. Talk with your agent they know the details of the contract
Patti gave a nice answer as well, although the buyer does not have the option to back out for "any reason." The standard C.A.R. form RPA-CA outlines specific instances in which the buyer may have a right to back out. Although, in essense, you could decide you don't want the property because you found a paper clip in the washing machine of your current home (or any other reason that has nothing to do with the pending purchase) and state that it was actually because of one of the legitimate reasons stated in the contract. This would, however, be a lie. And, every contract has an implied covenant of good faith. Many lawsuits and expensive problems related to real estate transactions could be avoided if people always acted in good faith. Can we request that everybdoy in CA do that for a year? Oh wait, that wouldn't make the lawyers very happy. :)
The long and the short is you should be.... however we have not seen your contract...
How long have you been in escrow? Have you removed any of your contingency's,
How long did your agent give you to do inspect of the property?
This is really a question you should be asking your agent.
A lot will depend on what your agent wrote in your contract.
You better get on the phone with him or her!
If the seller counters your offer - they are now extending an offer to you - so you must sign your acceptance of the offer, and they must sign again or they may back out. Once they sign, then you have a contract.
There's a lot of signing going on around here!!!!
An offer typically has contingencies included in the contract, most often home inspections and financing. Means it must meet inspection and or financing, or the contract is void and deposit is usually refunded in full.
A bank repo house often receives several offers at once - all with a good faith deposit and an approval letter or proof of funds. None of the contracts are binding until there's some signing.... typically the bank sends the buyer addendums to sign as well - they sign everything last.
An offer is what it is, an "offer"
I the standard California Associate of Realtors (CAR) contract paragraph 14 on page 4 explains the time periods, removal of contingencies, cancellation rights. Once these are set in the contract the time periods may only be extended, altered, modified or changed by mutual written agreement.
That is the legal blurp of the contract. Are you working with a realtor? If not ,this is another great reason, too. We are familiar with the contract are always protecting our clients money and interest.
If you need any help in the San Diego Area please let me know i live and consultant real estate in the area.
Or go to my website http://www.encinitasproperties.net