Historically, when you buy a home you have a contingency or two that allows you to do inspections, get a loan, get a correct appraisal and also…to simply change your mind. That, of course, has changed a bit in this crazy hot market we’re in and lots of folks are writing offers with no contingencies that assures the seller that no problems will occur en route to close of escrow. If you’re doing that you need to be sure going in that you really want the place. The point though, is that the contracts we use have provisions in them that allows for buyer contingencies and you could, if you have them, simply change your mind and back out.

Every once in a while a seller is the one who wants to back out. I’m aware of a situation recently in Tracy where that happened. The seller, a recipient of multiple offers and overbids, decides a few days into the escrow that he simply doesn’t want to sell. He thinks he has a “cooling off” period that allows that. He’s wrong. The contracts used in California have no cooling off period. No contingencies that allows the seller to back out. On the contrary, here’s what IS included in the fine print of one of the contracts:

“Should escrow not close due to a default by the seller, or if seller
does not otherwise perform under this contract Seller may be subject to a
claim for specific performance and/or be liable for Buyer’s damages
including but not limited to, consequential damages (eg: temporary
housing arrangements, storage costs etc)and for payment of the
brokerage fee.”

Changing your mind is allot different for a seller than it is for a buyer, huh? I heard a story once about a seller who actually signed all the papers and closed the escrow, receiving her money…and then refused to move! It took a couple of weeks to legally evict her. Her adult kids had to fly in from out of state to encourage her. For some reason it never occurred to her that selling meant leaving. It’s actually kind of amazing that you could do all that preparation work towards selling, get the house on the market, look at and ratify on an offer and then change your mind. Of course, it’s going to be a process if the seller engages an attorney and fights it all…but he odds are very long that he’ll win. It’s his signature on that contract after all.