What is my recourse regarding a house purchase gone bad?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What is my recourse regarding a house purchase gone bad?

I have an agreement of sale signed by the seller. Settlement is scheduled for 3/16. I have been through all of the home inspection, radon, termite etc. The house was in bad condition, so after home inspection I proceeded to get contractors lined up for painting, installation of a new AC unit, windows, etc. I paid my mortgage company for an appraisal. I was committed to buying the house and having the work done prior to moving in 3/31. Yesterday, the seller’s lawyer contacts me. The seller apparently is short to the tune of 23k – she has not kept current on HOA dues or taxes. The privately held mortgage is not willing to accept less then what is owed on the mortgage. They offer to sell me the furniture for 23k which was a joke. I don’t have the 23k. Do I have any reasonable recourse for those costs I spent – home inspection, home appraisal, time energy, opportunity to buy other houses, etc?

Asked on February 24, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if the seller has breached the contract by not being able to sell the house as agreed, you could sue him for "breach of contract" to recover the costs, fees, etc. and other losses you incurred. Practically, if--as may be the case, based on what you write--he is insolvent, or does not have any money, you will be unable to recover compensation; a court judgment in your favor does not make money appear where there is none.

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