If the buyer of my defaulted on the purchase of my home, can I sue for the costs of finding another buyer?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If the buyer of my defaulted on the purchase of my home, can I sue for the costs of finding another buyer?

My buyer defaulted on purchasing my home; they had buyer’s remorse the day before closing. I tried to do a 50/50 split on the deposit money, $5000, but decided to mitigate costs and move on to a backup offer. Therefore, I gave the entire deposit back to the buyer rather than be tied up for months in a legal battle. I would like to prove why I should be awarded the deposit money but I think I’ve lost that battle. Can I sue for my mortgage costs between the day they defaulted and the day I close with new owner?

Asked on May 18, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can sue for your carrying costs (e.g. mortgage; pro rata property taxes; utilities; insurance) for the additional time you carried the house, as a foreseeable consequence of the default, BUT what you can sue may be offset by what you'd have had to pay on the new home you moved to (assuming you moved to a new hope you purchsed or leased; i.e. it's not the case where you owned two properties, sold one, and just kept living in your second one), since you may have started incurring those costs earlier. Simple example (considering only mortgage): the mortgage on the home you sold was $1,500 per month. If you moved into a home bought with cash (no mortgage) you could recover the whole $1,500/month; if you moved into a smaller home or in a less expensive area so the mortgage on it was $1,000/month, you could recover $500/month; if you moved into a more expensive home with $2,000/month mortgage, don't sue--you won't get anything, because the delay saved you money. Of course, if you already owned the home you were moving into, so that you were paying for it no matter what, then you could get full carrying costs of carrying the home to be sold, too.

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