Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties)

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Linda DeVlieg
Keller Williams Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque Real Estate

Yes - see Bill's answer above, and I let them know that their next call needs to be the real estate attorney.


Unfortunately or otherwise, contracts lay heavily in favor of buyers - so sellers don't have the same ability to get up on the other side of the bed without consequences.

Dec 23, 2014 01:48 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I'd advise them that the buyers could sue for performance, but I wouldn't go after them for the commission. That's just negative advertising and could cost far more than the dollars to be gained. 

Dec 23, 2014 02:42 AM
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"


I have a situation that is getting close to that. The seller is on strike. The company is not negotiating. They have an offer on the house and I am telling them that "the time is now to decide if you can make it happen" I think they will withdraw  the listing. Better now before a buyer gets hurt or seller gets sued for non performance.

Dec 23, 2014 01:57 AM
Bill Dandridge
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU - Durham, NC
GREEN, ABR, GRI, EcoBroker

If I am representing the seller only, I would tell them that I would gently let the buyer's agent know about the change in heart from the seller. I would tell my client that, if the buyer has their mind set on the house, they can be sued for specific preformance to fulfill the contract.

Dec 23, 2014 01:42 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I had this happen to me this year, representing the buyer.  EVERY situation is different.  After inspections, the seller did not want to repair anything and decided they did not want to leave their home. They wrote a long letter to the buyer, apologizing. I asked the seller to reimburse the buyer for his inspection fees, which they did, and he walked away.  It was a bitter situation for a while, but my buyer was not going to make someone move.

Dec 23, 2014 09:16 AM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

If the seller accepts all of their consequences for dissolving their contract with all the parties to the contract satisfactorily, there shouldn't be any challenges.

However, if it should be litigated, the costs could be more than the sellers are willing to bear. Regardless, this situation doesn't occur frequently, so every case is unique and could be resolved easily or with consternation.

Dec 23, 2014 04:02 AM
Pam Dent
Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse

After discussing the issues with my client, whether it is the buyer or the seller, I would recommend that they consult with a knowledgeable real estate attorney to find out what their options may be.  Sometimes in situations like these the only one who wins is the attorney.

Dec 23, 2014 03:18 AM
Susan McCall, Independent Listing and Buyer Agent
Compass Realty Solutions - Portland, OR
Bringing buyers and sellers together!

This is so interesting!  I've had buyers get cold feet, one the night before closing.  I had a seller decide they didn't want to sell also and they contacted a real estate attorney and subsequently decided to continue with the sale.  The thing is we don't treally have return policies in real estate when we change our minds.  If you purchase something at a store you can almost always take it back.  In the State of Oregon we have a 3 day cancellation policy so if you change your mind you can cancel.  These are items like windows and roofs. In real estate there are so many expensive items to put in place before the sale closes like inspections and appraisals and the buyer is going forward with certain expectations for a result.

Dec 23, 2014 02:52 AM
Michael Ford
San Diego, CA

been here.  first...ask why.  if they have a good reason then the buyer will likely be agreeable.  i once had the seller pay the hard costs incurred for an appraisal and inspection when the reason for a move (job in another town) went away.  the agent was hotter than a wet hen but the buyer was very understanding.   the deal got ugly only when the cooperating agent threatened action for the commissions but i advised that i would not be pressing the matter and since they were not the broker and had little say in it and since i knew the broker (for a long time) she might want to get a read before she leveled her threats.  the broker was also very understanding but the agent still thinks i owe her a check...even though she bounced out of the trade after a few years.


for those with a feeble reason...encourage a face to face with legal and clam up until that happens.  you represent the seller and have obligations to pursue their interests...even to your own detriment i suspect.   situations like these are the place we learn what  the true liabilities are as regards fiduciary duties.   one MUST be careful to separate the need to cancel a sale and the agents rights commission earned.  those seeking commissions are well within their rights but i see it as a great way to create a bad reputation.  those who have lasted have been shanked for commissions...we get over it and press onward.

Dec 23, 2014 02:44 AM
Mike Carlier
Lakeville, MN
More opinions than you want to hear about.

Your responsibility is to truthfully reveal the sellers' intentions to the buyer and/or the buyer's broker.  Beyond that, I don't believe that there is anything in a listing/selling agreement that requires or allows you to do anything other than market the home, negotiate on behalf of your clients on the sale. and advocate for a successful closing.   Not only is there no requirement, but doing anything to help the (non)sellers break the contract probably requires you to wear another hat, and that other hat requires another license.

Dec 23, 2014 02:43 AM
Ron Buck
The Ron Buck Group - Laguna Niguel, CA
Associate RE Broker at Keller Williams Realty

All great answers above. Of course the best answer is "consult and attorney". Sometimes they get cold feet, just the opposite of buyer's remorse and if you answer their questions and relieve their fears they will change back. If not, fall on the mercy of the buyer and negotiate the way out because a seller will lose on specific performance.

Dec 23, 2014 02:32 AM
Juli Vosmik
Dominion Fine Properties - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739

Debbie, we need a little more info here.  But, like others have said, the entire transactions and reasons need to be evaluated.  Otherwise, by law, you're entitled to a commission.  If you push it and they start bad mouthing you to all the neighbors, maybe the good will is worth it just to drop it, but YOU and your DB have to make that call.  

Dec 23, 2014 02:10 AM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Have the Seller Call the local real estate shark and find out the options they have and the penalties that may be imposed.

Dec 23, 2014 02:04 AM
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

Have the seller have a heart to heart with a good local real estate attorney, to be sure they truly understand their legal situation before it gets very far. Can you potentially get a signed termination from all parties - of course. But few sellers have opt out options in their Georgia binding agreements, and its a serious legal obligation.

Dec 23, 2014 02:01 AM
John G. Johnston
John G. Johnston & Associates, LLC - Westcliffe, CO
An Exclusive Buyer's Agent ~ Westcliffe, CO

 As a buyer's agent I have to advise my client to seek legal advice if they want to proceed in the purchase.  It has happened more than once and I can assure you the aggravation isn't worth it!  More than once I have taken full price offers only to have the price raised.  I love what I do and this kind of aggravation isn't my cup of tea.  Good question!

Dec 23, 2014 02:00 AM
Maya Garg
Royal Lepage Signature Realty,Mississauga, Ontario - Mississauga, ON
Moving you Forward.... Buyers, Sellers, Investors

It all depends on both the situations.  If it is something that has happened in Sellers situation since they sold the home until the closing -i would like to find out first and then consult Buyerès agent and see their situation as Buyer may have sold the home and is looking forward to this home and no where to go in that case sellers will have to honour their commitment or compensate the Buyer. 

It is very tricky but nothing in life is IMPOSSIBLE. People are understanding and the things can be worked out to both the clientès satisfaction.


Dec 23, 2014 01:56 AM
Ron Aguilar
Continental Mortgage - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

good question, waiting for more answers 

Dec 23, 2014 01:47 AM
Debra Peters
Referral Realty - Manorville, NY
NY Real Estate Salesperson

Very unfortunate, and you have to be an excellent Agent to deliver bad news.

There must have been some huge change in the Seller's life that made them decide not to sell or they just panicked because reality came to light.

I would put myself in their shoes, evaluate the entire situation and then move on.


Dec 22, 2014 11:06 PM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

I've had this happen.  In this case I will honor the wishes of the buyer and their desires and often end up going to an attorney for legal assistance.

Dec 22, 2014 09:33 PM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

What I like to do is take them out for a couple of VO's on the rocks, have them get their chck books, and start writing. Merry Christmas Debbie Reynolds

Dec 22, 2014 09:08 PM
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

I can remember this happening 3 or 4 times (when I knew they were serious) - Always referred them for legal advice to the settlement attorney.  After speaking with an attorney about this they all changed their minds and went to settlement. None of them had any regrets.

Jan 27, 2015 09:33 PM
RVA HomePRO Michael Hottman
RVA HomePRO Realtor with Keller Williams serving Hanover, Henrico, Chesterfiled and Richmond, Virginia - Glen Allen, VA
Helping you achieve goals in life & real estate

Consult an attorney. I know it sounds like a cop out, but they need to understand the legal ramifications of their decision. 

Dec 27, 2014 10:20 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

In MA, the sellers should execute the contract - for all legal reasons. However, I have seen some excuses based on which sellers backed out - without any loss and buyers spent money on inspection, attorney review etc.

Dec 24, 2014 08:48 AM
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Isn't this a fun business?  The fun just never stops.  

In CA there's two choices.   (1) The buyer can sue for specific performance and will win (provided that the buyer has performed).  I've seen specific performance suits happen and one took 2.5 years.  The property almost doubled in value during the suit and the seller lost!  Or, (2) find a different property which is usually what happens.  A letter from the buyer's attorney may scare the seller into buying his way out of the contract.  (I've had that happen.)  The listing agent needs to let the seller know possible legal ramifications and to recommend in writing that the seller talk to an attorney.

Are we having fun, yet?

Dec 24, 2014 05:16 AM
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

There has to be a very good reason to pull out of the deal as a seller, and they are open to a buyer requesting damages, and having a lien placed on the house for non performance.

Dec 24, 2014 04:06 AM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

Enforce whatever legal paperwork that has been signed says. My Listing states that in this case the commission is due and payable.

If it is a purchase agreement they are backing out of...whatever the wording is would be enforced in a court of law unless it was unclear and ambiguous or misleading, etc.

Probably time for the attorney to get involved.

Dec 24, 2014 02:10 AM
Debra B Albert, PA - Keyes Realty
Keyes Realty Treasure Coast, 34986 - Port St Lucie, FL
Ron and Debbie 772.708.3292

I would have the seller consult an atty to make sure they know their obligations and costs under the contract.  I would be aware of the issues and have talked to our own advisors, I would not give advise here.

This situation is too close to being outside of what I am licensed to do.  When in doubt, send them to a specialist says this agent.

Dec 23, 2014 08:05 PM
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

I've had this happen three times in 18+ years. When the listing agent couldn't handle the seller, who had signed the contract, their broker sure as heck did. All three homes closed.

Dec 23, 2014 04:56 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

I've been in this situation twice in 20 years.  Both times we advised the Seller to seek legal counsel.  Both times ... we still closed.

Dec 23, 2014 11:15 AM
Dave Hymes
RE/MAX Gold - Placerville, CA

I had that happen once with a Seller I represented, divorce situation. Mr. Seller said he was going to cancel the purchase agreement and buy out his wife's interest in the home. As calmly as possible I said that's fine but you still owe me a commission and the Buyer might be talking to an attorney and I suggested he do the same. He did, the next day. Following the conversation with his attorney he called and said he wouldn't be cancelling after all. It closed a few weeks later. Mrs. Seller is my fan for life, Mr. Seller not so much. 

Dec 23, 2014 08:08 AM
Beth and Richard Witt
Long Island Cash Home Buyer - Huntington, NY
Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940

Well here in NY the seller can make that decision until there is a fully signed contract... by both parties...  It doesn't happen often that a seller decides not to sell after they have accepted an offer but they often decide to sell to someone else usually someone with a higher price and better terms and there is nothing any one can do about that decision... It's the seller's house and so far they still have the right to sell to whom they choose... That might change soon !!!

Dec 23, 2014 03:31 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Depends on the situation, never black and white push the issue and if very sale-able, you keep moving. The seller is a good one, there is a reason and you ride it out. If you decide to push for commission, I did my job, any future business is gone. You shot yourself in both feet and bleed out quickly. Trying to make anyone do anything they don't want is not worth it, let it go. Stay away from billable hours, courthouse steps, lawyers wearing white wigs holding scales of justice. Who said life was fair Virginia? Seller not just buyer remorse happens.

Dec 22, 2014 11:28 PM
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Hi Debra, those are just the right words. It is hard for us to know exactly what is going on in someone else's mind. It takes an excellent agent to get through this.

Dec 22, 2014 11:13 PM
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Kevin, I know it can be jitters but it can also be pure regret. It will cost them.

Gabe, I guess it does depend ultimately on what the buyer wants to do. I had one buyer that said they wouldn't feel good living in the house after that. They asked for compensation and moved on.

Dec 22, 2014 10:36 PM