Home Selling in Fairfax>Question Details

Melody, Home Buyer in Norfolk, VA

My husband and I signed a ratified contract December 4, 2011 and are set to sign the house on January 6, 2012.

Asked by Melody, Norfolk, VA Tue Dec 27, 2011

our agent said that this wasnt a contract so if we decided to back out we can. well today december 27, 2011 we told her that we decided we didnt want the house and she mentioned that the guy who is selling the house might sue us because he has done a lot of things for the house that we wanted like fixing the fireplace and other things. So im a bit confused because if out agent said we could get out i dont understand why we cant get out. we also talked to our loan officer and he called us in because over the weekend he said that we were approved for the VA loan but then the VA loan changed things over the weekend and now we werent approved. and he made sure to tell us that it wasnt his office that was denying it but it was the VA loan denying it. but then he called us and said he moved some numbers around and we got approved again. am i obligated to buy this house now?

Help the community by answering this question:


Question: What documents did you sign?

I'm not a lawyer, so what follows is not legal advice. For that, you need a lawyer.

If you made a formal offer that was accepted, then you've got a contract. If you made a formal offer that the seller countered, and you agreed to the counter, then you've got a contract.

If you did not make a written offer, then you do not have an enforceable contract. If you made a written offer that the seller countered and you did not agree to--did not sign--the seller's counter, then you do not have a contract.

Bottom line: You and the seller need to sign the same document, agreeing to all the provisions, for there to be an enforceable contract.

Why did your agent say that it wasn't a contract?

And, again, I'm not a lawyer. But if the seller made improvements or repairs without there being a signed, ratified contract in place, that was his risk. If there was a signed contract in place and you had requested those repairs, then you're at risk.

What your agent told you wouldn't affect the validity of a contract. (However, the agent could still get into a lot of trouble if he/she misinformed you.)

As for the VA loan--I'm assuming you had some sort of financing contingency in the contract (if, in fact, there was a contract). If you can get the financing in line with the contract (assuming there is a valid contract), then that would remove your financing contingency.

Even if there's a valid contract in place, it's possible that there are other contingencies that could be used to get out of the contract. Depends on your contract.

Recognize, too, that anyone can sue anyone else over anything. It doesn't mean they're in the right. So even if there weren't an enforceable contract in place, the seller could sue you. It doesn't mean he's right. It doesn't mean he'd win. But he certainly can sue you.

Here's the question to ask your agent: "You told us that there wasn't an enforceable contract between us and the seller. On what basis did you make that statement?"

Try working with your agent. If you're not satisfied there, speak to the agent's broker. And, if appropriate consult with a lawyer.

Hope that helps.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
I would start by reading your contract - that is where the answer is. In general, contracts are solid and if you have promised to buy the property you must do so, unless you need to walk away because of something that is covered by a contingency in the contract.

May I ask? Why do you no longer wish to buy the home?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
My suggestion is to get your Real Estate Agent's Broker involved and make sure you get the facts.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
You need to talk to the agent representing you in the purchase and if necessary an attorney. Since no other agent is a party to your contract we can't advise you on what documents you may have signed. There are a number of parts to a contract that could impact whether you can "get out" of it without forfeiting your deposit.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
You should speak with a real estate attorney to determine your options. Realtors are prohibited by our Code of Ethics (Article 13) from providing legal advice - unless we are also an Attorney. I highly recommend the following real estate attorneys to assist you:
1. Susan Pesner , (703) 506-9440 | FAX: (703) 506-0929 | 7926 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 930, McLean, VA 22102
2. Marcus Simon, 703 821-EKKO (3556), 6824 Elm Street, McLean, Virginia 22101
Hope this helps!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 27, 2012
So, what have you found out, Melody?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 28, 2011
Hard for us to give you a good answer, since we are not seeing the actually real estate contract, we do not know which contingencies it included or did not include, and was a real estate attorney involved early on after signing the contract to make sure that everything is ok, did you have an inspection?

You really may want to sit down with the Managing Broker of your agent and also with a real estate attorney if you have not one involved in this purchase, to see what you can do to protect yourself legally!

And as a good recommendation for the future it does not matter what anyone says, always get everything in writing, so that you have proof when you may need it and always always get a real estate attorney involved
to protect yourself --- just in case.... But first go through the contingencies in your signed contract with the
agent and broker and listen to them, then have a real estate attorney take care of it if need be.
Good Luck
Edith YourRealtor4Life! and Chicago and Northern Illinois Expert
Working always in the very BEST interest of her clients....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 28, 2011
There were no changes to VA loan procedures or guidelines over the weekend. Your loan officer is doing some sidestepping for some reason. If I were you I would talk to your real estate agent's broker about this contract.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 28, 2011
Hi Melody

You might want to make sure you, first you have a ratified contract, if you do, did you put in any contingencies such as for financing, home inspection, etc? If so, have all those contingencies expired?

If you have a ratified contract, you might be able to approach the seller to see if they are willing to release you from your contract and get your earnest money deposit back, if not, I would consult a real estate attorney to see what other options you might have.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 28, 2011

I find it VERY strange that VA loan changed over the weekend because this weekend was Christmas - and since Christmas was on Sunday the federal offices were closed Monday as well - so unless something changed during the week before Christmas ........ in which case your loan officer should have informed you then about the changes ......

Unfortunately - and FORTUNATELY - contract is a contract is a contract and should NEVER be taken lightly.

It is up to the Seller to release you from the contract, unless you can void the contract LEGALLY by using one of the remaining contingencies.

If it is any consolation, by LAW, the seller can either keep your earnest money deposit OR sue you for specific performance/damages, but NOT BOTH - the seller cannot keep the EMD and take to the court, only one.

I suggest you contact a real estate lawyer for a legal advice.
No lawyer can re-write the contract AFTER it was signed - if indeed you have a signed contract - but the lawyer can advise you as to your options.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
You need legal advice as to what you signed and when.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
Hello Melody

If you have signed and "ratified" a contract then it is seems you indeed have a contract, which is a document between two parties, the buyer and the seller, which spells out both sides rights and obligations.

What your agent might have referred to (guessing here) was the series of "contingencies" that need to be fulfilled in order for a contract to go through. These are for instance, home inspection, home owners association documents, appraisal and/or financing. Once those are met and removed then there's really no "way out".

Again not knowing the specifics it is hard to tell, but it sounds you went through a home inspection (you mentioned fixing fireplace etc) and also through financing, have these contingencies been removed?

I would suggest talking to your agent so she can better explain.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
Sometimes, a buyer of a property has a reason not to go forward. There are various stages in a typical agreement that give a buyer an "out" if they so desire.

The core of this answer is - Why?

I have worked with some customers who get cold feet or may find what they consider a better property.
Why do you want to kill this deal?

If you are working with the Listing Agent, then I guess this is a good example of why you need representation.
The goal of all Buyer's agents is to work in your best interest. If you feel they are not, speak to their broker.

Good luck.
Web Reference: http://lnf.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011

I agree in part to what is said below. IF it was/is in a home owners association..I am pretty confident if you want out..you can get out. I don't care to share "how" to do it in this forum..but again I am confident you can get out. One question might be WHY did the agent now say you have no out..when before he said you can back out?

The real question is why do you want out? Cold feet? Not secure with the loan? Payments? Why would you ask for things to be fixed if you wanted out? If your story is as you say...sounds like someone is simply trying to get a commission. I would never hold someone to a contract if they have an out..and want out.

Some mentioned go to the manager or broker..I disagree. I believe you will be wasting precious time and the broker/manager 90% of the time will support the agent..and indeed also would like to share in the commission. Go directly to a real estate attorney..if you need a recommendation simply ask. Sounds like there are some shenanigans going on here. Perhaps with the loan officer as well. Either that or there is some serious communication issues.

Good luck and if you decide you could use some help..let me know.

Kind Regards,

Erik J. Weisskopf, ABR,CDPE,CRS,GRI
Re/Max Distinctive
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
Hi Melody. A ratified contract IS a contract and when you are a party to a contract, you are obligated to perform according to the terms of that contract. There are certain circumstances, you can "get out of it", namely on one of the contingencies such as home inspection, financing, or hoa documents. But at this stage in the game, just over a week before closing, I'm assuming all the contingencies have been satisfied and all the deadlines have passed, along with your opportunities to back out without penalty.
You will probably do good by contacting your agent and your agent's broker to see where you stand. I would also recommend contacting an attorney for advice. Its understandable to get cold feet, however, you may end up sacrificing your earnest money deposit if you don't perform.
I am not an attorney, so this is not intended to be legal advice.

Cathy Baumbusch
RE/MAX Allegiance
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
wow, You need to call your agent's office manager and clarify. For general purposes, and I am not an attorney, only a licensed agent, but a ratified contract in our field is a legally binding contract and you are obligated to perform your duties set forth in the contract which would usually consist of purchasing the house. It is common practice in real estate to have some contingencies attached to your contract to purchase...i.e. home inspection, Home owners association (HOA), appraisal and financing.

My guess is that you have already completed the home inspection so that contingency was probably removed and you might have already received the HOA documents (if any) and it is possible that the review period has passed. (But I would check on this because it could help you to release your obligation if it is still a valid contingency.)

The other contingencies the appraisal and the financing are not a free walk away pass. However check your paperwork and see what your rights are under the appraisal and financing paragraphs.

It sounds like there is a lot of confusion and I don't know why your agent would tell you that it is not a contract when you are stating you had a ratified contract. He/she might have meant that there were ways to release your obligation, however it is likely they have passed.

At this point, My suggestion is to involve your agents sales manager and/or broker (hopefully your agent isn't their own broker!!!). If your agent is their own broker I would suggest contacting a Real Estate Attorney immediately.

If you need help feel free to contact me at lauryn@circadianrealty.com for further information.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011

I'm sorry you're going through this. I'm glad to help, but please contact me so I can get a better understanding of what has transpired.


Web Reference: http://billgentryjr.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 27, 2011
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