Seller backed out at the worst time for us

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Seller backed out at the worst time for us

About half a year ago or more, we have sold our home and are to move out one month from now. Since then, we have been searching for a new home. After searching and much discussion, we found a house and both parties agreed on a price. We, the buyers, signed contracts to close the deal. As we waited for the seller to sign, they decided to wait one month before we move out to notify us that they were going to sell to another buyer. The seller/real estate agent knew when our current home was closing. Are there any legal actions that can be taken?

Asked on May 12, 2009 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If the buyer signed a contract to purchase your home and gave you a deposit (or put it in escrow) which in downstate New York is typically 10% of the sale price, you would have a series of rights, depending on the exact wording of the contract. Such rights may be the right to take the escrow or earnest money as liquidated damages, or to sue for specific performance.  It all depends on the contract. 

If there is NO signed contract, your rights against the putative buyer are very limited and your rights against the broker for malpractice might be better. You could argue fraud, but that seems like it could be a hard and expensive case.  A LOCAL REAL ESTATE LAWYER WOULD BE THE BEST LEGAL ADVISER.


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