can a seller changed mind after they accepted the offer and signed the contract?

Asked by Iska, Los Angeles, CA Mon Dec 28, 2009

the seller already accepted our offer and signed the contract three months ago. Our down payment has been deducted. my question is can the seller changed mind after they signed the contract? The house right now is renovated and i believe they already installed the appliances (part of the agreement and it is in the contract). the problem is it is taking too long now and now our agent is having a problem with the seller (according to our agent) and our agent told me that it is because the seller got a better offer (higher price). whatever it is the house right now is out of our budget if we look for other house. can i fight for the house and have the seller finished the house? isnt it a breach of contract? i've done a research and what i found is they asked the seller for the damages and i dont think i will do that because house right now is higher than what we could afford.

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aroojsaba, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Fri Aug 30, 2013
No ...... a seller can not do this before signed her contract.Although laws can vary from state to state and contract forms can vary greatly from deal to deal, the general rule is that once a seller signs a contract to sell his home, he is, in many cases, locked in to the transaction.
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Commercial A…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Thu Dec 31, 2009
The seller cannot back out because he has a higher offer. He may however back out if you cannot afford to purchase the property, you may loss your deposit. You can always sue and your contract might have an arbitration clause.

Good Luck!
The Harris Company, REA/C
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Grace Hanamo…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Mon Dec 28, 2009
Hello Iska and thanks for your post.

I can only tell you what I learned when a similar thing happened to one of my clients--you, as the buyer--cannot "compel" the seller to sell the house to you if he/she decides they do not want to. The seller can make you "whole" (pay for the costs incurred in completing investigations of the home, your costs in getting a loan, loan lock fees, etc), but beyond that, if the seller decides NOT to sell to you, then you will have a long, expensive legal battle that may well result in your, ultimately, not being able to purchase the home.

Since your contract has now approached over 90 days, unless there has been an extension, both parties are most certainly out of contract to perform. In addition, your post would lead me to believe that you have not removed contingencies pending the final work to be completed on the property. While this has protected you, it has--in my wholly unlegal opinion--further weakened your position to enforce a contract that may have already expired. You might try an extension to get things back on track, but, as the others noted below, the best advice is likely to come from a qualified real estate attorney in your area who can review your documents, the transcripts of your agent, the correspondence between the parties, and provide you with workable options. Keep in mind that short sales or REO sales with a bank may put your offer in an even more tenuous position as these are often open to acceptance of "higher" offers by the lender until all contingencies have been removed.

I wish you very good luck. Please remember to consult a qualified attorney as soon as possible to protect yourself and your assets.

Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
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Bob Georgiou, Agent, Danville, CA
Mon Dec 28, 2009
Ill put my neck out a little further than some other here and say that you have some recourse if your transaction progressed past the contingency removals (all properly signed by the seller) and the contract was deemed fully executed. A buyer has little rights to force a sale and it is usually not worth the expense even when possible. If the contract has not proceeded to this point but you still may have some rights to claim and recover your costs and expenses.

It now depends on what the contract says and these are the details that you will need to speak to an attorney about.
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Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Mon Dec 28, 2009
Speak to an attorney specializing in real estate--if the seller is backing out, the atoorney is in the position of giving you the best advice.

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Matthew Bart…, Agent, Glendora, CA
Mon Dec 28, 2009
Hi lska,

It's very difficult to say exactly what your rights are without seeing the contract. Did you allow the seller's to retain first right of refusal? Meaning, if they received another offer within a certain time period that they could then accept that offer if you choose not to renegotiate your inital contract. My suggestion for you would be to speak with your Broker and Realtor and discuss what your options may be. If you do not feel that your best interests are being covered then you should speak with an Attorney who specializes in Real Estate law right away. Good luck!

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Mario Villag…, , Burbank, CA
Mon Dec 28, 2009
this definitely needs to be a question that you take to an attorney. All Realtors will tell you that we are not qualified to give you legal advice unless we are attorneys. The contract will state what reasons a seller has to back out. This sounds like it is taking a long time and you didn't state if it's a short sale. From my experience they usually can't back out and you can file a lis pendens so if they ever do try to sell they would have to sell to you. Like I said before without knowing all the details and plus I'm not an attorney it is best to consult a real estate attorney for legal advice on this matter.
Good luck,
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