Home Buying in Boston>Question Details

tomport72, Home Buyer in Boston, MA

We have a fully signed "offer to purchase" our dream home with a small down payment, but now the seller wants out. What can we do?

Asked by tomport72, Boston, MA Tue Dec 3, 2013

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Tomport,

You have a legal problem.
The terms - details of the agreement - and cirumstances should be discussed with an attorney, the one you already have hopefully.
An Offer to purchase has been enforced in the MA court system. Ask a lawyer!

I would use a local legal professional to save time and money - as soon as possible.

(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
I agree with Heath and Danielle,
At the end of the day this is a legal issue. Your lawyer should be able to work with sellers even if they do not have a lawyer
Flag Mon Jan 6, 2014
Heath, great answer. To port, just to add to what you wrote here as well... I would see if they are comfortable talking to your mortgage officer who can explain the many types of loan program out there and various %s people might put down, and reconfirm your financial stability to buy the home despite a small down payment. I work with many VA buyers who do 100% financing and often have the other agent speak with the lender to help comfort them on the fact my buyers are financially sound (despite little capital for a hefty down payment) and simply taking advantage of a great program.
Flag Tue Dec 3, 2013
Sellers think that an offer is only good unless it comes with 20% or so down. We are fully qualified/approved, and have no contingency about selling our current home. (we did this so that our offer would appear evnen more attractive!). We do have an attorney, the seller does not have one. Our attorney is willing to communicate with the sellers, but clearly they should have representation. In fact, an attorney of their own would/could probably explain to them that our offer is perfectly valid. We are earnest and sincere about buying their home, and have even offered to close on a date of their choosing.
Thank you for your input.
Flag Tue Dec 3, 2013
It is my understanding a seller cannot just back out in MA. Contracts are binding. As stated below this is definitely a legal matter and it is best to consult an attorney... I would not agree to take your despot back or sign any such paperwork until you discuss with an attorney.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
If both parties have signed the agreement, and you have paid the deposit as specified in the agreement, and it was a valid agreement the seller might not have the option of backing out. You should speak to your lawyer ASAP. An offer does not need a particular amount down in order to be valid. What deposit was specified in the agreement they signed? If they wanted a higher deposit they should not have signed and accepted an offer with a lower deposit. In my experience problems arise in those rare cases when one or both parties do not have a lawyer representing them. Good luck. It sounds like your lawyer trying to help the sellers understand.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Nothing really. Unless you have a fully executed sales contract, you have nothing. You can try to speak to the Realtor and see if there is something that would maybe make the seller reconsider, or the attorney to see what your options are. Good luck!

If my response was helpful, consider clicking BEST ANSWER!

Javier Meneses
Senior Loan Officer
NMLS #23130
310 Crossways Park Drive
Woodbury, NY 11797
(516) 606-9648 Cell
(516) 740-4478 Office
(516) 918-5383 Fax
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
An offer to purchase is a binding legal contract in Massachusetts. See the Burroughs Wharf Case which made that absolutely clear.
Flag Tue Dec 3, 2013
Unfortunately, Javier isn't aware of MA court cases that have enforced an offer to purchase.
Flag Tue Dec 3, 2013
Consult with an attorney that can review the offer and circumstances. In MA you can sue for "specific performance" to enforce a fully executed offer contract but it depends upon the offer and other circumstances.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Talk to your lawyer. Seems to me the seller is BOUND by the contract.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Definitely a question for an attorney. More specifically an attorney that specializes in real estate. If you need an attorney recommendation I highly recommend the firm Gilmartin Magence LLP in Boston/Newton. They specialize in real estate and have wide knowledge of real estate contracts, title and case law.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Hi There,

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, both sides of the transaction have the right to revoke the offer given cause. I would instruct your buyer's agent to get the reason for the offer withdrawal in writing. If it turns out the seller is withdrawing because they're seeking a high purchase price, you'll know when the house goes under agreement with another buyer. If that were to occur, then I think you may want to consider taking legal action.

In either case, I would ask both your Realtor and your attorney for the best course of action.

Good luck.

Michael A. Pallares
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
(617) 899-3162
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Call your attorney asap. This can get very complicated so you want to find out immediately what your legal rights per the contract you signed. You should have legal recourse however the end result could be a lot of time in court trying to uphold the contract. Again, your attorney can explain. If you need an attorney referral feel free to email us directly.

Good luck!

Territory Real Estate
Serving Home Buyer's Exclusively
617 848 5407 ext 704
Web Reference: http://territory.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 12, 2013
Ask for a best answer and you shall receive sort of like if you don't make an offer you can't buy the home.

Heath is right it is a legal problem.

Heath failed to inform you of the cost and or time involved to enforce it.

Most real estate attorney's will recommend you seek the expertise of a litigator, as it is not as easy or timely as the purchase process.

Unless this is not only your dream home, but you are stealing it or are prepared to pay 5 to 100k in legal costs and have the time to wait (months or years) with an uncertainty as to the outcome. I suggest you find another dream home.

But again get the advise of your legal counsel and your buyer agent (do you have one?)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
All good answers below. Why is the seller backing out? There has to be a valid reason and that's why atty. are hired.

Wish you the best of luck and hope you work something out.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Unfortunately there is little that can be done. Sellers do reserve the right to change their minds. It can get very costly if you want to sue for "specific performance" on fully executed contracts.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Yep, talk to your attorney. Though we may be knowledgable in real estate law, Realtor's are not attorney's and shouldn't give you legal advice.

Best of luck.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Have you found out their reasons? You are entitled to receive your deposit check back.
Should you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me.

Elena M. Lau
Multilingual Licensed and Accredited Real Estate Consultant
Realty Direct
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
Hi Tom,

that stinks but this is definitely a question for your attorney. Good luck
Web Reference: http://wenrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 3, 2013
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