Author Topic: Seller trying to break contract question  (Read 2455 times)

zedpol

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 38
Seller trying to break contract question
« on: September 09, 2014, 10:11:08 AM »
Hi all,  I'm buying a house and have gotten into a little bit of a pickle.  I'm hoping you all have some advice.  I'll do this bullet points to try and keep the time line understandable.  Our offer was very low and a very good deal for us. 

Day 1,  we offer on house.  Offer is accepted but they are going to send a counter.
Day 1, 1800,  Seller counter offers with minor stuff (use their title company, as is agreement-we had no contingencies, and a 14 day provision to figure out if reverse mortgage lender will accept) They send this to my real estate agent.  My realestate agent asks them to rewrite the addendum so our money isn't lost to escrow.  We sign the main contract and await the rewritten addendum.  Sellers agent send my agent email saying offer is accepted and we are under contract.
day 2, 1100 sellers agent sends my agent the addendum.
somewhere in this time they receive another offer that i presume is much higher
day 2, 2000 my agent sends addendum to me and we sign it.
Day 3, 1300 Seller says we don't have contract because we didn't sign addendum by 1300 on day 2. 

So this is day 4, We have a signed contract, an email saying we are under contract, but a seller than has said today they will be accepting multiple offers and they want our highest and final offer.

Where do I go from here?  Do I lawyer up or just walk away with a bad taste in my mouth?  Any other options?

Thanks for advice/perspective

Z

babysteps

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
  • Location: Southern Tier NY State
Re: Seller trying to break contract question
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2014, 12:08:09 PM »
it depends...

Legalities - did the seller sign the "main" contract?  Did the "main" contract reference any other documents that the seller (and you) needed to sign? Was there a time limit in writing on any of the documents?  If not, is there a convention in your area as to time limits? etc etc.

Money - how much $ are we talking about?  Around here, you can buy an as-is house for under $30,000 most days and it wouldn't be worth the legal hassle.  Where we used to live, $600,000 could be considered a 'bargain' and the legal bill might (*might*) make sense. 

Key: would a legal battle be something you are happy to live through or not?  That's as much about your personality as about the legalities and $.  Also, is this potentially a "difficult" listing realtor and/or seller and/or seller's attorney?  If so, could make a battle less palatable -- unless you are itching for a fight, in which case this might motivate you to pursue one ;)

I encourage you to consider your opinion of legal battles, then ask your realtor and/or your lawyer for perspective, then make a decision.

My spouse never rests easy until the contract signed by both (all) parties - seems to be the nature of real estate that deals can and do squirm around if the paperwork isn't in order from the get go.

Good luck!

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3400
Re: Seller trying to break contract question
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2014, 01:02:54 PM »
*Assuming* you want the house pretty badly and that the addendum was signed within the time specified in the contract:

-You are still under contract.

-Your realtor or the broker should have a lawyer on staff (or on retainer) who has a boilerplate saber-rattling letter for just these circumstances. It will say all kinds of horrible things about how they will never be able to sell, be tied up in court forever, pine away in jail, etc, etc. Shouldn't cost you much/anything to do this.

In most cases that will get them to either offer you money to go away, or continue with the sale, though it will be a PITA because their motivation will now be to get you to withdraw your offer. But it's already a non-contingency contract and they're not allowed to just wantonly destroy their own house (nor would it be in their interest) so you can make it happen if you want. 

If they refuse to do anything, you can sue to have them perform what the contract specifies. Consult with a lawyer before deciding to do this. It will take a while (yuppies suing each other over houses is not at the top of the list of judicial priorities) and it will cost you some money that you may or may not be able to sue the sellers to cover.

When this happened to us a few years ago, we walked away with $5k and looked for a new house to buy. It wasn't worth trying to sue for performance for us and we were happy to take the money and look elsewhere. You may feel differently about this place, though.

_W

zedpol

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 38
Re: Seller trying to break contract question
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2014, 04:13:07 PM »
thanks for the advice.  I appreciate the well thought out replies. 

We sent a letter,  they agent ignored it and sold it to another buyer.  I'm fairly certain the sellers agent was representing the other buyer but I'll find that out here in the next week or two. 

As far as how much money is involved...we shall see but the difference in the bid price is probably somewhere between 50k and 200k.  Again, i'll find out when the records come out.

all of this was very very shady and got worse after I posted.

thanks,
z

waltworks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3400
Re: Seller trying to break contract question
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2014, 05:11:59 PM »
If you want to pursue it, you can probably make a bunch of money in a lawsuit here. Whether or not you want to do that is another question, but breaking contracts to sell to a better offer is NOT looked well upon by judges.

You can probably get their agent in a LOT of trouble as well if you decide you want to. I'd probably let it go but that's just me.

-W

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 28132
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Seller trying to break contract question
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2014, 09:09:02 PM »
Whatever you decide to do, don't be emotional about it.

I understand it's probably very frustrating.  But it will add nothing to your life to get upset about it.

Deal with the situation, one way or the other, and accept it.

Sorry you're going through this.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.