Can I walk away from a real estate contract if I move out of state for another job?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I walk away from a real estate contract if I move out of state for another job?

We are in the middle of buying a house and
have passed the home inspection stage. We
are still in the process of getting a loan. We
have been preaprroved but it is still in
A job that my husband had applied for
suddenly calls him and offered him a job. We
would love to take the new job because it is a
great opportunity for him, but it is in another

Can we walk from our real estate contract
now? And besides from losing earnest money,
do we owe any more money to the sellers?

Thank you.

Asked on August 25, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) No, having a job opportunity or other good reason to relocate (e.g. to care for a family member) is NOT a legal reason to get out of the contract. You can only escape the contract if the seller did or does something wrong (committed fraud, or lied about something important, to get you to enter into the contract; breached some material, or key, term of the contract; etc.). 
2) IF the seller's losses can be proven to exceed your earnest money, they can potentially sue you for the surplus. Example: say you have $10k in earnest money. Say the monthly "carrying costs" for the home (mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, etc.) are $3k/month. If it takes the seller 6 months, or $18k of carrying costs, to find a new buyer and sell the home, they could potentially sue you for the extra $8k--the amount by which their costs exceeded the earned money.

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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