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Handling a house sale when you suddenly regret selling

What happens if you decide to sell a house and then get seller's regret before the deal is even done? Can you back out? What's the worst that can happen if you refuse to go through with the deal?

You essentially end up with three possible outcomes:

1. You hope that the buyer is very understanding and will accept your explanation about why you don't want to sell after he or she has put all that time and effort into the purchase process and stopped looking for anyplace else in the meantime. If you're lucky, you will be able to return the buyer's earnest money and be done.

2. The buyer can sue you for damages. This might happen if you wait until the last minute. By that time, the buyer has probably paid for an inspection (or several), rented a moving truck or paid a moving company a substantial amount of non-refundable money, given up his or her lease or sold his or her old home and have nowhere to go -- except to the house you're holding onto that the seller was expecting to possess.

3. The buyer can ask for specific performance from the court, essentially getting a court order forcing you to go through the sale. This is a likely probability unless you have a very good reason for wanting to back out of the sale. For example, if you were diagnosed with a serious disease or terminal cancer right after you struck the deal, the judge may allow you to remain where you are because you're too sick to move.

Keep in mind that every real estate situation is unique, so these ideas just represent a broad overview of the possibilities. For more information about your specific situation, contact a real estate litigation attorney. If you'd like to know more about how our firm approaches cases, please visit our page.

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