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Real Estate property transaction

Alexandria, VA |

Can a ratified contract of a residential sale be cancelled by a seller who has ratified the contract but not completed the closing/ settlement..?

Are there any indicators for liabilities of cost and expense to the seller to make good to the buyer in goof faith.?

Attorney Answers 2


For residential real estate sales contracts there will often be contingency clauses that govern rights to cancel or modify a contract after signing. Additionally there are certain rights that apply (such as a right of refusal after being given HOA documents) even if they are not discussed in your contract. Rely first on the assistance of your real estate agent who has a contractual duty to help you. If things get too contentious, the real estate agent should acknowledge that they are not an attorney and suggest it is time to hire counsel.

It appears to me it is time to speak with an attorney.

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The right to cancel a residential real estate contract depends on the terms of the contract, but generally absent some breach by the buyer that is incapable of cure (or is not cured under the terms of the agreement), there is really no grounds for a seller to terminate the contract. You can try to terminate the contract and refund the deposit paid (if any), but the purchaser may be able to sue you for damages and/or specific performance under the contract. With respect to the latter remedy, the buyer would basically be suing you to force the sale of the property, under the legal principal that it has no adequate other remedy at law, since every parcel of land is considered unique. I would definitely get legal counsel through the termination process if that is how you intend to proceed, to minimize your risk exposure.

Jeffrey W. Weaver
Corporate, Real Estate and Intellectual Property Law
(703) 777-7319

Under no circumstances shall the response posted above create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and/or poster of the original question, unless and until a separate engagement agreement is signed by Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver and its client. The information provided above is not legal advice nor is it conveyed in the course of an attorney-client relationship, but is intended merely as a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel and are encouraged to do so.

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