What can happen if the buyer defaults on home purchase?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What can happen if the buyer defaults on home purchase?

Buyer and seller agreed on price and signed a purchase and sales agreement – waiving the inspection period.

After some consideration, I am no longer comfortable in purchasing the home. The sellers are not interested in allowing the offer to be withdrawn, not even with additional money offered on top of the deposit.

If I default and do not purchase this property, what is the most they can do. They obviously keep the deposit. Can they sue? For the purchase price? For time lost?

Asked on October 11, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Maine


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, they can absolutely keep the deposit.
2) If the contract of sale specifically states that in the event of your default, all they could get is the deposit, that's all they can get; in this case, they would have contracted away the ability to seek anything more.
3) If they are not contractually limited to the deposit, IF they can show they incurred greater losses (e.g. larger carring costs from having to hold onto the property for longer due to your default, which costs exceed the deposit), they could potentially sue you for the amount by which their loss exceeds the deposit.

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