what are the consequences of a seller walking away from closing due to problems with inspection of the new house?

Asked by Obermilk, 30004 Tue Nov 30, 2010

we are set to close in a couple of days on our present house and a new house. the new house has recently been found to have major septic problems. The buyers of our present house refuse to delay closing. what are the repercussions if we choose to cancel the closings?

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Darrell Hess’ answer
Darrell Hess, Agent, Asheville, NC
Thu May 31, 2012
First and foremost what does your agent suggest? Remember they are working for you since you are paying them!

There are restrictions to that 7 day extension mentioned below. you can't just extend the closing 7days just because you feel like it. If you cancel the closing of your present home you may be found being sued and having to pay damages for specific performance. I would read your contract with your agent and attorney present and see what was laid out and what you signed. Every contract can be written differently to protect different individual in different circumstances. As far as canceling your contract on the home you are buying it would depend on how that contract was written and what time period you are in, i.e. due diligence and what not. If you are past all of that more than likely you will lose earnest money. Why does the seller of the home you are buying not address the concerns you have with septic system? Did your agent not suggest amending the contract based on your concerns after the septic system inspection. How much time as passed or how long have you been sitting on this knowledge of the septic system? There are a ton of variables in this situation and I am not your agent and can't see the contract to advise you. Seek legal and professional advice from the people you are involved with and paying.
0 votes
Stephanie Mc…, Agent, Canton, GA
Mon Feb 21, 2011
Talk to your buyer agent - under certain circumstances either party has a unilateral right to extend the closing up to 7 days in Georgia. It is times like these that working with an experienced professional really pays off. Good luck for the desired outcome.
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Tim Moore, Agent, Kitty Hawk, NC
Wed Dec 1, 2010
Major septic problems can be dealt with, why is the seller of the house with the septic problems not fixing them? I would think you should ask them to get them taken care of prior to closing.

Unless there is a Time of the Essence clause in the contract you should be able to delay closing for a week or two to get the septic dealt with. A whole new septic field is under $5k in our area and easy to deal with. I doubt the buyer would sue for specific performance if you are just talking delay, if you are talking walking away they very well might and you could loose and have a large attorney bill to pay.
0 votes
Edith Karoli…, Agent, Winnetka, IL
Wed Dec 1, 2010
Hopefully you have been working with a Realtor as well as with a real estate attorney.... if not now is the time
to show your contracts to a real estate attorney you hire for his/her advice....

You should also find out the expense for the remedy of the major septic problem before making any hasty decision..... Your Realtor and your Real Estate Attorney together should be able to advise you so that legally you will make the right decisions....

In this forum not knowing all the circumstances we cannot even give you our opinions.... You need to get qualified and legal help....

Good Luck to you!
Edith YourRealtor4Life and Chicago Connection
Working always in the very BEST interest of her clients
Web Reference:  http://tinyurl.com/MeetEdith
0 votes
Lee Taylor, Agent, Decatur, GA
Tue Nov 30, 2010
All good answers. It's just a septic problem - deal with it. A few thousand dollars invested in a fixable septic problem vs. Lawsuits and a bad reputation...you do the math.
Web Reference:  http://intowninsider.com
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Stephanie Mc…, Agent, Canton, GA
Tue Nov 30, 2010
you need to speak with your agent, the broker and./or your own real estate attorney - not the closing attorney. This is serious business.
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Mark Lackey, Agent, Norcross, GA
Tue Nov 30, 2010
Wow, you need to ask this question to your agent or their broker. If you don’t have one hire a real estate attorney.

Nobody on-line should give you advice not understanding the contracts you have.

Mark Lackey
Atlanta Housing Source at
Solid Source Realty, Inc.
Associate Broker

Home Buyers & Sellers - http://www.AtlantaHousingSource.com
Property Management – http://www.SolidSourcePM.com
0 votes
Hank Miller, Agent, Alpharetta, GA
Tue Nov 30, 2010
Obvious question need to be asked - Why are issues being noted with the new home so close to closing?

Not knowing the full story and not being your agent precludes a pointed response, but in general terms:

If you fail to close, you have not met the contractual obligations that you agreed to. I would expect the buyer could sue for nonperformance, damages, expenses and any other things they could toss in. I expect agents will also pursue commissions - especially in this market.

If you try to punch on the home you're buying, you may also have issues if you're outside the due diligence period. Bottom line for the buyers of your home is that they have no concern about the issues with the home you're buying - they expect to close as scheduled.

Beyond that, you need to work with your agent but if you being in this situation is an example of their handiwork, an attorney might be a better source. I'd suggest figuring out a solution that doesn't involve canceling closings - that tends to get ugly.

Web Reference:  http://www.hrmiller.com
0 votes
Jason Peebles, Agent, Austin, TX
Tue Nov 30, 2010
I am not sure what state you are in, but in general if you choose to refuse/delay closing and you are under contract to do so, the buyers can file a lawsuit for performance. Meaning, they can sue you to perform what you have agreed to perform in the contract (i.e., sell them your home). It could be quite costly if you do so. I would suggest talking to the buyers. Communication can go a long way in any transaction and often times the other side can be empathetic to your situation.
Web Reference:  http://www.JasonPeebles.com
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