You've been dreaming of homeownership, have spent years preparing financially, and spent months searching for the perfect home. You finally found it, negotiated a price, and signed a purchase and sale agreement with the seller. Now, the seller wants to call things off—years of dreaming, months of planning, and piles of paperwork, all for nothing.
It doesn't often happen; however, it can be heartbreaking when it does! Why would a real estate seller have a sudden change of mind, and do you have any legal recourse?
In this post, we'll examine some of the reasons a seller might back out of a Purchase and Sale Agreement, the impact of a seller backing out of the deal, and what recourse you might have.
Before you run out and lawyer up, take a breath and consider the situation on a human level. If your finances are in order, you've been upfront and interested in moving forward emotions, or a situational change may be behind the seller's change of heart.
Try to determine the seller's reason for putting their home on the market. For example, if the sellers were planning to move into a senior facility because one of them was seriously ill. But they made a miraculous recovery; there is little you can say to convince them to sell.
However, sometimes the seller just doesn't trust you to make good on the deal and has second thoughts. Maybe they have a reason to believe you can't make the down payment or get a mortgage approval, and they don't want to take their home off a hot market for long enough to find out. In this case, sit down and provide whatever evidence you need to allay their fears.
Another common situation is that the home is historically or personally significant emotionally (maybe it has been in the family for generations). The seller is concerned that you properly care for the home. Sit down with the seller and explain that you will honor the home's historical significance. Explain your plan to enhance the historical significance of the dwelling.
Sometimes, the seller got a better offer and decided they'd rather sell to that person. Yes, it's unethical, but it happens. Your legal solutions depend on where you are in the process.
If you have a verbal agreement, or the details in the purchase and sale are not met, a seller can walk away at any point. The P&S has legal value and backing out can be complicated. It's something most sellers and buyers want to avoid. Here are six examples of when a seller can walk away before closing:
If the deal is not finalized, it's easy for either party to back out. However, once a purchase and sale agreement are signed, backing out can have consequences for the seller.
There are affects a seller faces when they back out without cause. They open themselves up to both legal and financial consequences.
A seller is subject to legal consequences if they back out of a deal after both parties sign a contract. The ball is in the buyer's court. They have a choice. They can sue to move forward with the transaction or withdraw their offer. Agents may also sue for breach of contract as they are at financial risk of losing their commission.
As a buyer, you have the option of suing for breach of contract. Judges often order the seller to sign over the deed and complete the sale. You can also sue for damages, but most buyers choose to sue for the property.
The seller is also subject to some serious financial consequences. The judge may allow the seller to keep the property, however, the seller will need to adjust the expenses incurred by the buyer during the entire period of house showing and legal work. They must also return any security deposit. The seller often also must pay the buyer's legal fees, along with their own, which could be a harsh penalty.
The purchase and sale is the contract that bears the details. A well-written purchase and sale contain clauses in clear language as to when a buyer or seller can back out of a sale without legal consequences.
One of the most frequently asked questions is if a seller can back out should they get a better offer from another potential buyer. A purchase and sale agreement protects you. Once an offer has been accepted and a contract signed, a seller can no longer accept another offer. That being said, it could happen, but the truth is that buyers often have more to lose, along with disappointment if a sale falls short because of a seller.
The purchase and sale agreement provides protection to both parties. Few legal options can provide an escape without penalties both legal and financial. A well-written and negotiated purchase and sale can certainly reduce the chances to back out of an agreement.
The man-made scenery in Northern New England is nearly as eye-catching as the natural landscape. Whether you're a history buff or just appreciative of beautiful designs, the area's range of architectural styles is endlessly fascinating. Our real estate agents take a look at some of the more popular home styles and what makes them so compelling.
If you're planning to buy or sell a home, then you should be prepared to receive loads of advice from family, friends, and neighbors. When it comes to real estate transactions, everyone has their own unique perspective. While advice can be helpful and well-intentioned, it's important to weigh the advice based on experience. The average person is involved in a real estate transaction once every 5 to 7 years while the average Masiello agent manages 11 transactions every year. These uneven experiences have given rise to numerous industry myths.
If you are considering the sale of your home, knowing your home's value is essential for pricing it accurately to get buyers interested. Whether you are considering a sale or just curious, it is always a good idea to keep on top of valuations, if for no other reason than to determine your ROI.
No matter what motivates you, having an accurate understanding of your home's estimated market value can come in handy. Today, there are several ways to do that, many of which are free and within reach online. However, some methods are better for getting an accurate real estate estimate than others.
This post will compare working with a professional agent to get a real estate estimate of value versus sourcing the information online at a website like Zillow.
In today's internet age, technology has given us the ability to perform many tasks ourselves. As buyers and sellers have become savvier, the first stop on the journey to buy or sell a home is the internet.
Online tools and home value estimators are everywhere! While you have multiple platforms to choose from, one of the most popular is Zillow. But is a "Zestimate" as a Zillow estimate is known, accurate?
So, what is a Zestimate?
This is Zillow's version of an online home valuation platform and can give you an estimate on over 100 million homes all over the country. Zillow's algorithm automatically computes values. These are based on both public-submitted as well as user-submitted data points for each property.
Like many online value calculators, The accuracy of a Zillow Zestimate will vary widely based on several factors, including your location and how much data is available.
While online sites like Zillow are helpful, you should never rely on them to make an accurate real estate estimate of valuation. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you want accurate information to make an informed decision.
Sites like Zillow have the potential to empower buyers and sellers. They have replaced the world of comparable sales and values that were once understandable only to real estate professionals. They give both buyers and sellers the ability to learn useful information about properties in their area, including their own.
Sites like Zillow do their best to provide accurate information as to the value of your home. However, Zillow is an automated system that is based on mathematical formulas and data analysis. It does not think for itself. It cannot account for variations – changes that can substantially affect the price of a home from any sort of "average."
When you are buying or selling, you cannot afford to be off on your real estate estimate by tens of thousands of dollars in your pricing or bidding!
While Zillow is fine if you are seeking a general idea of value, the fact is, analysis and a real estate estimate provided by a real estate professional will be more accurate. Real Estate professionals specialize in answering the question, "what is my home worth?" They do this for their clients by running a comparative market analysis. This consists of finding similar properties, or comps, that sold within the past 90 days and using this factual data to prepare their valuation.
The most accurate comp is a nearby home that is similar to yours in terms of square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Ideally, the lot size is also similar. Once your REALTOR® finds a few comps in your area, they will average these figures to determine a baseline home value.
Today, sellers need to take into consideration that home buyers begin their search for properties online. Assume your agent has provided you with a real estate estimate that values your home at $503,000. Most people will search for homes using $20,000 or $25,000 increments.
That means listing your home at its market value of $503,000 could prevent your listing from being seen by buyers searching the $475,000 to $500,000 range. Asking $500,000 for your home in this instance might generate more traffic and maybe even a bidding war that can push your final number well above your expectations!
If your real estate estimate is too high, your home can sit on the market, even in a seller's market. Valuing your home too high can be a big problem. If your home stays on the market too long (over 30 days), it can become stigmatized. Buyers often get suspicious when they see that a home has been on the market for an extended period. They may think that there is something wrong with the property.
If that is the case, the seller may need to significantly reduce the price, sometimes below market value, to generate interest. However, pricing your home below market in an attempt to generate interest and multiple bids can also backfire. Granted, in a hot seller's market, like we're living in right now, that strategy can be effective. However, pricing too low can lead buyers to assume that your property is only worth the list price.
While sites like Zillow can be helpful in the information gathering stage, your best bet is to work with a real estate professional. They can help you to price your home accurately and list it for close to the figure. When you are in doubt, turn to your local real estate professional. They understand your market and will help you cut through the haze to pinpoint the right price for your home.
If you love to travel, you've probably vacationed in some spectacular places that hold special memories. Perhaps the ocean views, exotic cuisine, relaxing atmosphere, or abundance of nature make you want to return again and again to this special place.
More travelers than ever before are skipping staying at hotels, instead choosing to rent rooms or entire homes from Airbnb hosts. With Northern New England being such a beautiful place for a getaway, the demand for Airbnb rentals in the area is often high. Becoming an Airbnb host is a great way to earn some extra income in your primary residence, meet new people from around the world, or even turn your second home into an income generator whenever you're not using it. Our real estate agents have the details to help you decide if becoming a host is right for you
The real estate market in many locations has simply been on fire! Today, here in New England and many other areas, homes that typically attract little interest are garnering multiple offers, and bidding wars are common.
Conventional wisdom says that when it comes to real estate, the highest offer gets the house. But the truth is, this is not always the case. Sure, a solid offer is the first thing that every seller wants to see, but an astute real estate agent or REALTOR® will advise a seller that each offer is more than just a number it is actually the sum of all its parts.
Here are seven reasons why your artfully crafted lower real estate offer might just help you beat the higher bidder after all!
If you can afford to pay cash, you just might beat a higher bidder. It might sound impossible to pay cash for your home, but many people do it. According to the National Association of Realtors, 12% of all houses sold in 2019 were all-cash deals.
An all-cash offer is attractive to a seller of real estate for several reasons. First, there are no mortgages or lenders involved, no appraisal to worry about, and escrow can close faster.
Pre-approval is much different than pre-qualification. A pre-approval letter is a confirmation from a lender that confirms you are ready to buy in a set price range and you have been pre-approved for the loan.
In essence, the real estate pre-approval lender turns you into a virtual cash buyer. Other buyers could offer more, but if they are not pre-approved, the deal could fall through. As a result, a pre-approval letter gives you a leg up, even with a lower offer.
Typically, the closing period can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Offering to customize closing to meet the seller's needs can sometimes seal the deal over a higher bidder. Sellers almost always want a fast close. If you have all your paperwork together you might be able to get it done! Be flexible! Sometimes the seller might need more time, for example, if the house they are moving into will not be ready for 60 days. Find out what works for the seller and accommodate their needs. Sometimes the lower offer does win.
It might seem cheesy, but much of the home buying process is emotionally based. Sometimes sending the seller a heartfelt letter letting them know you love their house and hope to raise your family in the home can sometimes make the difference!
Contingencies are typically negotiating tools that allow you to walk away from a deal without consequences. The three most common are inspection, financing, and appraisal contingencies. Every contingency you add can make your offer appear weaker because each can make the deal more difficult to close. Make sure you really need each contingency before building them into your offer.
Be careful what you ask for! If you ask for the custom drapes, the appliances, and the chandelier that was a wedding gift from the inlaws, (and was excluded in the listing) you risk offending the seller and having them walk away. Even if yours is the highest bid!
An escalation clause is an excellent way to make your offer stand out. An escalation clause states that you will pay a pre-determined amount over the highest bona fide offer that does not contain a home sale contingency. While not all agents use this tactic, it's a great way to stand out in a competitive situation.
For example, once all of the offers are reviewed, the seller's agent will contact the buyer's agent and forward them the highest offer. The buyer then has a fixed amount of time, for example, 30 minutes, to accept or reject the highest bid and include their escalation amount. So if the offer is $525,000 and the escalation amount is $5000, the buyer must agree to $530,000.
Sometimes the biggest wallet does not close the real estate deal. These tactics can help you develop a strategy to help make a lower bid more attractive to a seller. The best solution is to work with an experienced real estate agent or REALTOR®. They understand the local market and can help you develop a strategy to compete in a tight marketplace that goes beyond simply making the higher offer.
Remember, every term in a deal is negotiable. In today's market, the seller is in the driver's seat. However, if you understand their needs you can craft a strategy that offers benefits beyond the highest offer. A good seller's agent will compare and leverage all offers to achieve the homeowner's desired pricing and terms. A good buyer's agent will help you craft an offer that benefits you and meets all of the seller's needs.
If you missed part one of this three part series on Making an Offer when Buying a Home, here is the link to part one & two:
When it comes to buying a home, an all-cash offer can be a pretty powerful tactic, especially if there are multiple bids on a piece of property. However, making (or accepting) an all-cash offer is not always a no-brainer, either for the buyer... or the seller.
One big difference between an all-cash offer and a financed offer is that the cash offer can close quicker. As a general rule, while an all-cash offer might seem suspicious, if it's from a valid buyer, it is usually easier, with a lot less red tape.
In this post, we'll look at the pros and cons of the all-cash offer from the perspective of the buyer and the seller.
Recent data from the National Association of Realtors for 2019 found that 12% of all buyers purchased their homes with cash. As the name implies, an all-cash offer means that you have the ability and liquid cash available to purchase the house outright. You don't literally pay with a briefcase full of hundreds, but you'll need access to all of the funds in a liquid account that allows immediate withdrawals or transfers. For most people, that means a checking, savings, or money market account.
An all-cash offer means that you will not be getting a mortgage loan for any portion of the sale. This is important to the seller because it eliminates the financing contingency of the purchase agreement. A seller makes their decisions based on the terms of your offer, including contingencies. An all-cash offer also makes several other contingencies optional. That can be a powerful tool when engaged in a bidding war with multiple buyers. These can include:
Lenders require an appraisal, cash buyers do not. If you're confident you're getting a good price, you can waive the appraisal contingency.
As a cash buyer, an inspection contingency is also optional. However, this is one contingency you might want to keep in your agreement.
A sales contingency means that your current house must sell before you close on the new property. This is pretty much the opposite of liquidity. While you can include this contingency, it diminishes the attractiveness of an all-cash offer.
The bottom line? An all-cash offer means you have liquid funds available, so you will not need a mortgage loan. You may also waive certain contingencies to make your offer even more attractive to the seller.
An all-cash offer offers homebuyers some significant advantages. Here are some of the pros and cons of an all-cash offer:
As previously mentioned, one key benefit of making an all-cash offer is the ability to pick and choose which contingencies to include. Not only will this save money, but in a competitive market, this is very desirable to most sellers.
All cash offers are also good for the homebuyer because you do not have the hassle of dealing with a lender. That means no need to gather paperwork like tax returns, income statements, proof of employment, credit scores, or asset lists. You will also save on closing costs associated with getting a mortgage loan.
As a buyer, an all-cash offer gives you more control over the closing timeline. This means you can close faster because you are not waiting for bank approvals. This can be significant for sellers who need to move quickly.
As mentioned, sellers are often attracted to an all-cash offer because of fewer contingencies, fewer hassles, and a faster timeline. As a result, you may be able to make a lower offer and have it accepted, even in a multi-offer situation. An all-cash offer can give you leverage to negotiate a better price that can mean savings and increased equity right from closing!
There are some drawbacks to making an all-cash offer. You need to consider all of the positives and negatives before you commit to any deal. Here are some negatives to be aware of.
This should be a top consideration before making an all-cash offer. Real estate is a non-liquid asset which means it can be challenging to get cash out when you need it.
If you place much of your liquidity into a home purchase, you may lose out on potentially larger gains that could be realized elsewhere. Real estate typically earns around 2 or 3% annually.
If you itemize deductions, mortgage loan interest is tax-deductible on your federal income taxes. Without a mortgage loan, you lose that deduction.
Owning a home requires more money than the purchase price. You still need to budget for closing costs, any renovations, and general maintenance and upkeep. Make sure you have enough money to cover taxes, repairs, and other items.
As with buyers, there are pros and cons for sellers when an all-cash offer is made for your property. Several situations encourage an all-cash offer. In recent years a new phenomenon has emerged: direct homebuying online. Companies like Open Door, Redfin, and most recently Zillow are buying homes directly from sellers.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of an all-cash offer as the seller.
The traditional route of using an agent and listing on the MLS, or going "FSBO" offers no guarantee your home will sell. Assuming you've priced it right, it should sell, but it can take months to get the deal you're looking for. Realtor.com data suggests that it takes about 65 days to sell (which can vary widely by location). Once under contract, escrow can last 30 to 60 days, or longer. That being said, if you need money fast, going the traditional route has drawbacks. Online direct homebuying, for example, can get you an offer in a fraction of the time.
If you're in a hurry or don't have cash on hand, the idea of repairs that might be needed to maximize your home's value may not be doable. Cash sales are typical "as-is." You'll still need to disclose defects, but if your home needs repairs, and you're not in a position to do them, an all-cash offer may be the way to go.
This was also a pro for the buyer. A traditional sale often comes with a list of contingencies. If it's a buyer's market (not applicable right now!) your buyer might even request a home sale contingency which can drag out your sale for months.
While it seems like there are a few great benefits of receiving and accepting an all-cash offer, there are a couple of drawbacks to be aware of:
This is the big one! If you're looking for top dollar for your home, then an all-cash offer will often disappoint. In a seller's market, like today, an all-cash offer is a good tactic for a buyer to win a bidding war if you're selling to an individual who is looking to live in the home. However, investors are buying homes to resell them. They will offer less if they are coming to you with an all-cash offer. If you're selling to a company like Zillow they may offer less and give you great terms like a 10-day close and no contingencies. It depends on your situation as to whether it's a good deal.
If you're dealing with a reputable company like Zillow or Redfin, or a REALTOR® or agent who has vetted their client this isn't a concern. However, if you received a "We Pay Cash" postcard in the mail, make sure they have the cash they're offering. Ask to see a bank statement or "proof of funds" letter. In these types of deals, since all-cash offers often have a short escrow (sometimes as short as 7 to 10 days) you may want to negotiate a lease-back so you don't have to rush into a move. This is a smart tactic. In the event the deal falls apart, you'll have fewer worries.
The all-cash offer brings with it both benefits and drawbacks for both buyers making the offer and sellers who accept it. The bottom line is that for buyers, the all-cash offer is an interesting tactic in a hot market that can help make them stand out from among the crowd in the event of multiple offers on a property. There are some considerations including contingencies and closing dates you'll need to think through.
For the seller, the all-cash offer can mean a quick close and fewer hassles, but unless it's a seller's market, it's likely to be below the market value of your home. But it is fast and convenient. In the end, whether you're the buyer or the seller, you need to consider all of your options including which factors are most important to you in your unique situation.
If you missed part one of this three part series on Making an Offer when Buying a Home, here is the link to part one: https://www.masiello.com/news-and-updates/2021/06/16/the-logistics-of-a-seller-backing-out-of-a-purchase-and-sale
To build or to buy? It's one of the first and most important questions that you'll need to answer when considering your next home. The right answer for your family depends on a variety of factors, including your budget, where you would like to live, your preferences for the home, and your future plans. Our real estate agents are here to help you make an informed decision, with a closer look at whether building or buying a home might be the right choice for your family.
It's often said that homes are sold by emotion. A buyer falls in love with a home, and the dance between buyer and seller begins. While the process is often driven by emotion, the bottom line is that a real estate transaction is at its heart a legal transaction.
As a legal transaction, numerous players, forms, and contracts are presented and signed in the average real estate transaction. One of these forms is the brokerage disclosure. The brokerage disclosure is a written explanation signed by the prospective buyer or seller of real estate, which clearly explains the broker's role in the transaction.
In this post, we're going to take a closer look at the roles of the various players in the process of selling a home, including the buyer's agent, seller's agent, facilitators, and broker. We'll also define the brokerage disclosure form and explain its role in the process.
The brokerage disclosure form is just one of the many forms you'll see when buying or selling a home. While it is not legally binding, it is an ethically valuable piece of paper that defines the major players and their roles in the typical real estate transaction.
When you work with a real estate agent or REALTOR® whether buying or selling a property, the National Association of Realtors requires that you be informed as to whom the agent is representing in the transaction. The brokerage disclosure form outlines each agent's role in the transaction.
While the brokerage disclosure document is a form and not a contract, each is geared to the brokerage's role in the transaction (seller's broker, buyer's broker, etc.), and each state's agreement is slightly different.
As a prospective buyer or seller, you need to understand that unless the buyer chooses to establish a written Buyer's Agency Agreement:
As a buyer, it's important to understand that the seller's agent is loyal to the seller and is bound to act in the seller's best interest. However, a selling agent must treat any buyer honestly and fairly. A good seller's agent will;
If you want agent representation when buying a home, you'll need to sign a written Buyer Agency agreement. The agent is then responsible to you and your best interests, not the sellers.
The buyer's agent is typically paid a commission via a split with the seller's agency, or their fee may be included in the mortgage. It should not cost the buyer any additional funds and often cost less under a Buyer's agency agreement than under a sub-agency.
With a Buyers Agency Agreement, you can expect fiduciary duties beyond the services that can be legally offered to you by the selling agent. This should be clearly disclosed in the brokerage disclosure form.
A Buyer's Agent's duties include:
Loyalty to the Buyer: The buyer's agent has a duty to act in the buyer's best interest at all times. Including negotiating the best price and terms for the buyer.
Obedience: As long as a request is legal and within the scope of the exercise of agency, a buyer's agent is obligated to do whatever the buyer requests.
Disclosure: If a buyer gets swept away emotionally by a property, it is their agent's job to remind them that it may not be suitable based on pre-established factors. Seller's agents must disclose only material defects like structural problems or zoning issues but otherwise will stress the benefits of the property. A buyer's agent must disclose everything!
Confidentiality: The buyer's agent may not reveal by word or deed that the buyer is willing or able to pay more than the offered price. The buyer's agent must not disclose any discussions, including that they can not find a comparable property or any fact that may affect the buyer's negotiating position.
Reasonable Care and Due Diligence: The buyer's agent is obligated to be competent, make appropriate recommendations, and must call upon their full range of skills and knowledge on the buyer's behalf.
Accounting: Not only does this include accounting for deposit money, it means seeing that everything the buyer expects is included in the contract to purchase. If the agent is being paid by any source other than the buyer, they must disclose it.
Unlike the listing and selling agent, the buyer's agent's role is not as a salesman but as an agent for the buyer. They must always act in the best interest of their client, not the seller or their agent. The brokerage disclosure form clearly outlines their role and responsibilities.
An easy way to understand the role of a real estate broker is to understand that the relationship between the broker and agent is similar to the role between a principal and a teacher. A principal is not an entry-level job – you need a level of teaching experience before you can apply. While both can teach, the principal has more authority in the school.
In the US, a real estate agent needs to work under a broker for their license to be active. You don't just pass the test, walk out and start selling homes unless you're a broker; you must work under one.
This role is a little confusing. While the role of both the buyer's agent and the seller's agent are clearly defined, a facilitator is a little more complex. A facilitator is the role of an agent before the client elects the agent as either a buyer or seller's representative.
In Massachusetts, MA law requires an agent to disclose their role at the first meeting. The law states:
" When a real estate licensee works as a facilitator, that licensee assists the seller and/or buyer in reaching an agreement but does not represent either the buyer or the seller in the transaction. The facilitator and the broker with whom the facilitator is affiliated owe the seller and buyer a duty to present all real property honestly and accurately by disclosing known material defects and owe a duty to account for funds. Unless specifically agreed upon beforehand, the facilitator has no duty to keep information received from a seller or buyer confidential."
The brokerage disclosure form is a vital component of a real estate transaction. It is important to disclose and define each person's role in the process when buying or selling a home. However, at the end of the day, choosing an agent should be about more than a recognizable brokerage office, designation, affiliation, or years in the industry, although these factors are important.
The core of every real estate transaction is trust.While you need to understand the role of the players in every transaction and who they represent, the bottom line is that you need to do your due diligence and ultimately trust the professionals you choose to work with when buying or selling a home.
Explain the role the buyer's agent, the seller's agent, facilitators, Transaction, Broker, etc., and others all play in the process of selling you a home.
It is a form, not a contract
Nuances by state