A seller places their home on the market. They hire an agent to help them price and market the home and find them a suitable buyer. Showings commence.
You'd think all this means they WANT to sell their home, right?
But sometimes there's some hesitancy involved. Perhaps a messy divorce and there's an order to sell the home.
Or the home is just getting to be TOO much after the death of a spouse and ALL those memories are hard to leave, but staying isn't viable either.
So at some point a buyer comes along and loves the home, submits an offer and their agent works through the listing agent to negotiate terms that work for both sides. At that point the "offer" is now a "contract". Once those last signatures and initials go on the Cincinnati MLS purchase forms, both sides have agreed to perform as expected.
The buyer is going to conduct inspections, get their financing taken care of, hit certain time deadlines or risk being in breach of contract.
What does the seller have to do? Basically just allow the buyer to fulfill the contract. Allow home inspections, keep the home in condition as seen and prep to move out on time.
What you won't find in the contract is a "I changed my mind" clause for the seller. It's not there and it's obvious why it's not. The buyer is making plans and spending money for inspections, appraisals, etc. under the expectation that the seller is serious about trading their home for a stack of money. Giving the seller the opportunity to just option out can really put the buyer in a hard spot.
Now I'm not an attorney, didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn and no way should any of this be construed as legal advice, but if the seller decides they want out, there's only two paths:
1. The buyer agrees to release the seller from the contract, gets their earnest money back, and if other expenses have been made, ask to be made whole.
2. Here comes the judge. There's a term called "specific performance", so basically a buyer could try to legally force the seller to honor the contract.
Obviously that could get sticky, take time and suck up some serious legal bills. The home needs to be all that and a bag o' chips if you're going to add that kind of stress to your life.
So the short answer is the seller can't legally quit the contract unless the buyer breaches first. The seller can try to make things difficult (I'm not fixing ANYTHING!!, Appraisal low? Better bring some more cash!!), but they can't just quit without the buyer's permission.
Need more information on this topic? Call a real estate attorney!
Need to talk about non-legal real estate topics? That's what we're here for: 513-520-5305 or email Liz@LizSpear.com.
Liz and Bill aka BLiz