can a seller get out of a sale before it closes?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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can a seller get out of a sale before it closes?

We have a signed around agreement but the inspection contingency has not been removed yet. We received a back up offer at a higher price and would like to know if there is any way to get out of the first deal?

Asked on June 26, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The inspection contingency is there to protect the *buyer*, not the seller: the seller cannot use the contingency to escape the sale. If the buyer fails to propertly act on the contingency in time (by the time they are supposed to), the buyer will lose the protection or benefit of the contingecy and will be locked into the sale regardless of issues found--so this will not let you out.
However, if under or pursuant to the contingency, the buyer demands repairs or compensation for inspection issuses which you refuse to make, then the ball is back in the buyer's court: they can take the home as is (with the issues) or else *they* can get out of the sale. If they opt out of the sale, you'd be free to sell to another. Otherwise, you can only get out of the sale if the buyer breaches some material or important term of the agreement, like failing to make a payment or deposit on time.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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