Can a seller back out or force you to back out of a binded contract?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can a seller back out or force you to back out of a binded contract?

The sellers agent is not only attacking our personal integrity but he is also trying to get us to back out of our binded contract. We have a binding contract that has been signed by all parties stating that we accepted their counter offer with paying full list price, seller to pay closing, we close on September 3rd, and we take the home as is as long as nothing major needs to be fixed. They have now asked us to push the closing date which we have stated we will accomodate but with conditions. They are now telling us closing date will not be pushed back to the 2nd week of October and then told us they may take it off the market. We have put

up earnest money and gave our final offer letter for the house. We have signed all documents provided to us. Can the seller back out?

Asked on August 12, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your question answers itself: a party canNOT legally get out of a binding contract--e.g. a signed written contract for sale of a house. The contract is binding and can be enforced against a party that tries to back out--i.e. you can sue them for "specific performance" to get a court order that they go through with the sale (and also possibly to get monetary compensation from them as well, for costs or losses incurred due to their breach). A seller can only get out of the contract if the buyer breaches or violates it in a material, or important, way, such as by not paying what they are supposed to pay when they are supposed to pay it. Barring your breach, they are held to the contract, and you can enforce its terms against them.
Similarly, they can't force you to back out: they can ask you to terminate the contract (anyone can *ask* anything) but have no power to make you terminate or cancel it. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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