Can we sue sellers to get our money back and to pay for all fees?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can we sue sellers to get our money back and to pay for all fees?

So we’ve been trying to close on a house since June 26th but have not been able to due to issues on the sellers side. We’ve extended the CD and have not been able to close on that date either. There’s also the grace period before they’d be in breach of the contract. Is it ideal to ask the sellers to reimburse all money we’ve put in and pay all fees and damages before persuing legal action?

Asked on July 23, 2018 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can and should always try to settle a matter amicably and voluntarily (e.g. by asking for reimbursement of fees) before suing when possible.
If you and then can't resolve matters voluntarily, then if and when they are violation of the contract of sale, you could sue them for "breach of contract." You could alternately treat the contract as terminated (over) due to their breach and sue for your deposit back and reimbursement of costs you incured; or sue for "specific performance"--for a court order compelling them to go through with the sale by a court-set date. A good first step is to, if you have one more date set for closing (or they are still in a grace period), send them a "time of essence" letter, which you will send some way or ways you can prove delivery. In the letter, lay out the history of delays and missed closing dates, state you are incurring costs and substantial inconvience due to the delays, state that "time is of the essence" and that if you do not close by the next, last chance (e.g. next CD or the end of the grace period), you will take legal action. Sending this letter shows you put them on notice of the problems they are causing and gave them a chance to correct the situation; it puts you on stronger grounds if/when you sue.

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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