What legal recourse do I have, if a seller backs out of a purchase and sale agreement?

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What legal recourse do I have, if a seller backs out of a purchase and sale agreement?

I entered into a purchase contract with a woman selling her residential home FSBO. She and I signed the contract, I put down a desposit and opened escrow. I have already put notice in on my house, ordered a shed for the new property and rented a storage unit.

Asked on April 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Speak with a real estate attorney; there are several possible options:

1) Sometimes, you can get "specific performance," or a court order requiring the seller to go through with the sale. This is very rare in other breach of contract cases, but the legal system recognize that each home and property is, to a greater or lesser extent, unique, and that thus monetary damages or compensation are not always enough. It is not a given that you could get specific performance, but it's at least an option in a case like this.

2) You could recover monetary damages, such as--

a) the cost of out-of-pocket expenses (storage, buying a shed, home inspection, attorney, etc.) incurred by you in attempting to perform under  the contract

b) other costs attendent upon not being able to close this sale, like the carrying costs of your house, if you need to hold onto your current home for longer than anticipated while looking for a new one

3) You could consider the contract terminated by the seller's breach and recover your deposit--and possibly other  monetary compensation, as per 2) above, as well.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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