If a seller reneges on a sales contract, what are they liable for?

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If a seller reneges on a sales contract, what are they liable for?

My mother signed a contract to sell her home and move out of state. However, she then changed her mind; she didn’t want to move. The investor who purchasedthe property is letting her out the contract as long as we pay him for his expenses which are $800 for attorney and title company fees, however he put a $1500 deposit down to hold a roofer. Is she responsible to pay him for that? He did this prior to closin g. How would he know that something wasn’t going to go wrong before closing? She could have become ill or other things could have happened. Why would anyone do that prior to closing? So does she have to pay him for that also?

Asked on June 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, she has to make good his deposit on the roofer if  the roofer will not give it back to him and if she was aware (or should have been aware) that he did this. That is because if she knew of the deposit, this would have been a foreseeable loss caused by her actions. People are generally responsible for losses to others caused by their actions if they are aware such a loss could result. (Conversely, if she did not know of the deposit prior to deciding to renege, she probably would not be liable, since as you point out, it's not foreseeable that somone would engage a roofer in advance.)


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