Home Selling in 92840>Question Details

Sara, Home Seller in 92840

How can a seller back out of escrow in ca without getting in trouble? Our realtor is not helping us and now we are in a jam because of him.

Asked by Sara, 92840 Mon Nov 23, 2009

My parents signed a contract with their realtor to sell their home. Their realtor told them that they could not back out of their contract and would have to sell. My parents received an offer on the house and made a counter offer. My parents did not hear anything from the realtor for two days untill the buyers realtor came over and told them congradulations they are in escrow. My parents immidately called their realtor and told him they did not want to sell and told him they wanted out of the contract. I was looking online and saw that you have three days to back out of a contract, my parents called their realtor on day three after the counter off had been accepted to tell him they wanted out. He called them back the next day which would be day four to let them know there is absolutely nothing they could do. I know I wont be able to get an exact answer with out being able to provide the contract but I was wondering if there might be any chance of fighting this.

Help the community by answering this question:


The first thing is to notify their agent and his borker in writing that their home is no longer for sale and the reason for the change. You parents may be on the hook for expenses and this will need to be a dealt with but a buyer can not compel a seller to sell his home. If the agent AND his broker persist you will have to lawyer up fight them, though this is unlikely.

Needless to say, don't sign anything.
Web Reference: http://bob2sell.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010

What a mess...the problem is that your parents sent a counter offer. At that point all the buyers needed to do was agree within the time frame specified on the contract. Once your parents sent that counter offer....they were obligated to the buyer. The buyer and the agents now have cause for damages based on the seller not performing.

But....that being said....there are people involved. I would advise you talk to the listing agent's broker and the buyer's agent's broker. See if you can work something out without going to arbitration. If your parents refuse to sign things which allow the home to transfer title....it can be a long drawn out thing and the buyers and agent might just agree to move on.

Good luck with this.....if you don't get anywhere with the brokers, you need to get an attorney to advise you on next steps.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
First thing would be to go talk with a real estate lawyer. Sometimes a nice letter from a lawyer gets things straightened out.
A listing agreement is a form of employment contract with the Realtor. Sellers can terminate this agreement in writing.
Since your parents knew of an offer and even counter offered, there then comes into question as to when or if there was an "offer and acceptance". That's where the lawyer comes in again.
As for the Realtor, your parents can file a grievance with the agents Association of Realtors. They may or may not do anything.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 23, 2012
I hope this worked out ok - my advice would have been to contact a good real estate attorney, and the agent's Broker - Let us all know how it turned out
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
Dear Sara,
You can pretty much fight anything that you are willing to pay to fight. The problem is, what is that going to cost you and can you win in court? I would recommend you speak to a good Real Estate Attorney to explore you options.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
Hi Sara,

Just wanted to check in with you and see how this is going? I hope it's all worked out ok?

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
If your parents are still against selling and no satisfaction with the Realtors, why not contact an attorney specializing in real estate and see what/if anything can be done.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
I recommend talking with your Realtor's broker. It sounds as though you may need someone with more experience and resources to advise you. In many cases if buyers are told that the seller decided not to sell, they are okay with it.

Another matter is going to be the commission. Depending upon the precise "he said, she said" it is possible that technically if the listing agent produces a ready, able, and willing buyer then the seller, whether they sell or not, owes the commission.

Reading between the lines in your post it seems that there may be some other issues, so by talking with the Realtor's broker you can be sure to get the best result. If you think you need to see an attorney for legal advice, then do so immediately.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
Before paying an attorney, your parents should try telling the buyer they do not want to sell. Some attorneys will do a free consult, they can try that. What I do not understand is why your parents agent told them they could not cancel their listing. They could have just refused to show the home. Also they should not have sent a counter offer, they should have just rejected the offer, and took the home off the market. Did your parents realtor tell them they had to counter the offer? If so that was very wrong ot their agent to do. I think the first thing your parents should do is contact their agents broker and tell him or her they do not want to sell and that their agent is not accepting what they are saying. Also they can call escrow and ask for cancelation orders to be drawn. This will also alert the buyer that they do not wish to continue. Real estate does not have a 3 day right to cancel. There are other ways to cancel but mostly for the buyer. I do feel the longer you wait to tell the buyer the harder it will get. Contact the buyer now.
Connie Bramble
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 23, 2009
the 3-day right of rescission doesn't really apply to real estate transactions. But at this time, your best bet would be to talk to a real estate attorney, and the sooner the better.

good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 23, 2009
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
Hello Sara and thanks for your post.

I was in a similar situation several months ago when I represented the buyer and the seller (the other side) decided to "pull the plug." To be frank, in working with attorneys, we learned that the seller can, in fact, back out of the sale, and our recourse against the seller of this tract home was pretty limited. In fact, we learned that neither Buyer nor Seller can be "forced" into consummating a purchase of a home in California. Provided the Seller is willing to compensate the buyer for their inspection fees and costs, that may be all it takes to cancel the sale. There may not be any commission due to the buyer's agent if the seller's agent is not paid--the buyer's agent is, after all, a sub-agent of the listing agent here in California.

Although your parents may have tried to exercise their right to cancel the contract, at this time, since the sale has been progressing, they need to contact a real estate attorney to extricate themselves from the contract. Specific performance, I was told, is seldom available to home buyers when the home is neither unique (like a custom built home) or special as to location, view, geography so that a comparable home cannot be found by the buyers in the due course of time. Of course, only a qualified attorney can review your situation and provide you with applicable legal opinions in this case.

Good luck and I would suggest bypassing the broker and agents in favor of a quick review and opinion by a qualified attorney. Good luck!!

Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 23, 2009
Great advice Grace, Thank You for sharing your experience with us all!!!
Flag Fri Jun 15, 2012
Sorry to hear, and agree with both agents. I suggest that you talk to his office broker and explain the situation humbley as possible.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 23, 2009
I am sorry that your parents are in this position. A seller can back out of the contract but there may be consequences. As the seller, you may be held responsible for your agent's commission and you will have to return any deposit. Also, the buyer, if they want to enforce the contract, may sue the seller for what is called specific performance. You should have your parents contact the broker of the agent, as well as the local association of which the agent is a member. Good luck!
Web Reference: http://www.TimelineRES.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 23, 2009
You can do a cancellation of escrow but it may cost your parents. They need to speak with their Realtor about this issue before escrow closes.

John & Sarena Villaescusa
Keller Williams Realty
Cell: 562-818-2671
Email: Johnv@kw.com
Website: http://www.VGroupHomes.com
Web Reference: http://www.VGroupHomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 23, 2009
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