Reasons to Back Out of Your Contract

by Carolyn Andrews 12/01/2019

Photo by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Once you sign a purchase agreement, whether you are the buyer or seller, it is very difficult to back out of it. However, as a buyer, you are able to back out if your real estate agent drafts the contract properly. Real estate agents use a standard contract. That does not mean that you have to accept the contract as it is written. You, as a buyer or seller, may make amendments to the contract. If you do make amendments, don’t get so crazy that the other party will file it in the round file.

Exceptions

Almost every real estate contract you see will have exceptions. In most cases, the buyer or seller has to add the exceptions. An exception is a condition that the buyer or seller has to meet. If the buyer or seller cannot meet that condition, the contract gets canceled and the buyer gets their earnest money back. Some examples of exceptions include:

  • Pending the buyer’s ability to obtain financing;

  • Pending a termite inspection;

  • Pending a home inspection; or

  • Pending clear title.

These are the most common exceptions, though buyers and sellers are not limited to only these. As for home inspections, buyers and sellers often negotiate repairs. If the repairs are significant, the buyer may ask the seller to grant a credit or to make the repair to keep the contract. If the seller refuses and the home inspection is listed as an exception, the buyer may back out and get their earnest money back.

Natural Disasters and Accidents

If Mother Nature rips down the house with a tornado or does extensive damage with a hurricane, the buyer may choose to back out of the contract without forfeiting their earnest money. If a fire burns the house down, whether it’s a forest fire or arson, the buyer may back out, as long as the buyer had no hand in the arson crime.

Other reasons a buyer may back out without forfeiting their earnest money include:

  • Flooding;

  • Extensive damage by trespassers;

  • If the buyer finds that the house is full of mold;

  • If the buyer finds that the seller did not disclose that the house had lead paint or asbestos.

Some contracts are written so that the buyer cannot back out because the seller did not disclose lead paint or asbestos. It is up to the buyer to ensure the clause in the contract is written so that they may back out of the contract. In fact, if asbestos or lead paint is a major concern for the buyer and the house is older, they may want to add that as an exception.

Always read real estate contracts carefully, including disclosures made by the seller. Amend the contract with exceptions if you are concerned about anything that may devalue the property.

About the Author
Author

Carolyn Andrews

Carolyn Andrews has over 30 years licensed Brokerage experience in both California and Colorado. Born in England, Carolyn moved to California in 1980, then relocated to Denver, Colorado in 1991.
Carolyn has also received recognition for Top Sales at RE/MAX Alliance Aurora in 2007-2008 and is a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame & Chairman’s Club, as well as a recipient of the ReMax Lifetime Achievement Award. Carolyn has sold over 2000 homes personally in her career.
Carolyn has been actively involved in many aspects of the Real Estate business including investment property, luxury homes, mountain resort property, skiin/ski out, REO/default management, loss mitigation, valuations, and disposition. She has been a speaker and panelist at several conferences and has been consulted on many occasions by various organizations in the REO/financial industries for her expertise and served on many boards. She has attended numerous ongoing classes to stay abreast of changes in the ever-evolving Real Estate industry. She is the prior State Director for Colorado for VAREP(Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals). She is a member of 3 boards of Realtors including Metro Denver, Colorado Springs and Summit County mountain areas.
She heads up The Andrews Group and is or has been an active member of NAR, CAR,REOMAC, CIPS, CRS, AREAA, NAPW, NAHREP, and is an original member of the ELITEReal Estate network. She was ranked #1#1 for most homes sold in Denver 2007 by Denver Board of Realtors, #2#2 for 2008, and #2#2 for 2009, #5#5 in 2010 and #4#4 in 2011 and has been consistently in the top 10 ever since. Carolyn Andrews has been a top rated Endorsed Local Provider for the Dave Ramsey Organization and also a Top Producing agent for 2018 for the Homelight Company.