After a Buyer Has Made an Offer, Is He Allowed to Retract It? You Asked, We Answered

Selling a house can be come very disappointing and expensive if the deal falls through. Sometimes, the reason for the deal falling through is the buyer backing out.  As a seller, here are some things you must know about when a buyer backs out. See: What to Do if the Buyer Backs Out at a Real Estate Closing.

Buyers will make an offer on your home and when it’s accepted, a contract is signed between the two parties. At that point, the property’s status typically changes from “For Sale,” to “Under Contract.” However, a home sale or purchase is not complete until both parties have signed all necessary legal documents transferring ownership of the home at closing. Buyers often have contingency clauses written into their contracts which are legal ways of backing out of the contract at no cost to the buyer. Read: Find a Local Real Estate Attorney. The most common contingencies include:

• Mortgage Loan Contingency: The buyer must be able to obtain a mortgage loan for the property, usually within a specific period of time of signing the contract.

• Home Inspection Contingency: The home for sale/purchase must either pass inspection or the seller must agree to make any necessary repairs noted by the inspector.

• Sale Contingency: The home purchase depends on the buyer selling his or her property.

• Appraisal Contingency: The price of the home for sale must either meet or be less than the official appraisal price.

When Your Buyer Backs Out

It can be really frustrating if once you have found your buyer and gone through the whole process, that they decide to back out. If you have a contract in hand for the sale of your home, you have a few things to lose if your buyer backs out:

Interest From Other Qualified Buyers
Other buyers that may have been interested in making an offer on your home will begin looking at other properties. One of those buyers may have been able to meet the terms of the contract within your desired time frame, but by then, they are already gone.

One of the most frustrating aspects of a housing deal falling through is that you have to find another buyer. This takes time and could also complicate your plans to purchase another home and/or your moving timeline.

Your Next Home
If you are buying another home and the contract on that property was contingent on selling your current residence, you may find yourself unable to financially move forward. You may have to back out of the purchase of your next home or figure out another way to finance it if you were depending on the proceeds from your current home to purchase the next.


You may lose money as a result of the deal falling through if you failed to include a contingency in your next home purchase contract and you need to break it. You may also lose money if you need to continue making the mortgage payment on your current home and make a mortgage payment on a new home or pay rent. Lastly, you have to keep paying to keep the property up when its put back on the market. Read: What Happens to Earnest Money if the House-Purchase Contract Is Broken?

Negotiating With Your Buyer
There are steps you can take if your buyer wants to back out. First, make sure that both of the real estate agents involved are communicating and that both you and your buyer are getting copies of all changes or communications in writing. While you may not want to reduce the sale price of your home or lay out more money to make repairs, it may be worthwhile if the potential losses due to a broken deal would be more costly than making desired concessions.

Know the Warning Signs
There are some warning signs that a buyer is about to back out of closing on the purchase of your home. The can be be shown in the form of the buyer not returning papers signed, dated and completed as instructed, failure to make required payments to third parties, not returning calls, missing appointments, and multiple requests for contract changes from the buyer’s agent.

Protect Yourself
You can protect yourself from this type of buyer by being an informed and empowered home seller. You may want to have a real estate lawyer review the contract and inquire about your recourse options, including the ability to sue your buyer if necessary.


Jose Williams

View more posts from this author
One thought on “After a Buyer Has Made an Offer, Is He Allowed to Retract It? You Asked, We Answered
  1. Megan

    A buyer sure can back out. Happened to me. It was awful; his realtor was really embarrassed. Ethically, I don’t think its right. People change their mind everyday about things, which is fine. But what bothers me in this situation, is that the buyer knew that he or she was having doubts before they had to finish by signing the dotted line. He didn’t wake up that morning and say “I don’t want the house anymore.” So, yeah..the lack of honesty is what bothers me. They want to keep THEIR options open, but you can’t.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.