What legal recourse do I have, if a seller backs out of a purchase and sale agreement?

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What legal recourse do I have, if a seller backs out of a purchase and sale agreement?

I entered into a purchase contract with a woman selling her residential home FSBO. She and I signed the contract, I put down a desposit and opened escrow. I have already put notice in on my house, ordered a shed for the new property and rented a storage unit.

Asked on April 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Speak with a real estate attorney; there are several possible options:

1) Sometimes, you can get "specific performance," or a court order requiring the seller to go through with the sale. This is very rare in other breach of contract cases, but the legal system recognize that each home and property is, to a greater or lesser extent, unique, and that thus monetary damages or compensation are not always enough. It is not a given that you could get specific performance, but it's at least an option in a case like this.

2) You could recover monetary damages, such as--

a) the cost of out-of-pocket expenses (storage, buying a shed, home inspection, attorney, etc.) incurred by you in attempting to perform under  the contract

b) other costs attendent upon not being able to close this sale, like the carrying costs of your house, if you need to hold onto your current home for longer than anticipated while looking for a new one

3) You could consider the contract terminated by the seller's breach and recover your deposit--and possibly other  monetary compensation, as per 2) above, as well.


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