Contract of Purchase and Sale Holdbacks

Far too often Sellers agree to do things that they don’t end up doing. In a Real Estate transaction this could result in a Buyer being responsible for thousands of dollars in repairs or future payments if a Seller does not do what they agree to do.

A holdback is a very good way to ensure that what a Seller agrees to in an Accepted Offer actually gets done.

What is a Hold Back?

A holdback is when the Buyer's lawyer keeps (or “holds back”) some of the money the Buyer is paying the Seller for a specific purpose, for a set period of time AFTER the Buyer has bought the property. If the money is not used for the specifed purpose before the holdback expires, the money can be released by the Buyer's lawyer to the Seller.

Why use a Holdback?

Often in a Contract of Purchase and Sale, the Seller is responsible for repairs to a property before the Completion Date or payments to a third party after the Completion Date as part of the deal.

A holdback ensures there is sufficient money for any future payments the Seller fails to pay as well as if the Seller doesn’t do the required repairs before the Completion Date. A Buyer does not have to rely on the Seller's word, but can have tangible evidence that money is held by the Buyer's lawyer set aside for the agreed work or payments.

Holdbacks can be very good to use with Sellers who are overseas or are difficult to contact as well as those who have not been acting in good faith. Lawsuits are expensive and time consuming. It is far easier and simpler to have money set aside when the Contract of Purchase and Sale is negotiated to absolutely ensure the that what the Seller agrees to actually occurs.

Holdbacks are often used in new construction as well.

Mike Stewart is with CENTURY 21 In Town Realty in Vancouver, BC


  1. vancouver website design 02/05/2011 at 12:18 AM

    Thanks for this post. In fact today I did knew a new thing named holdback. Can I think a holdback simply mean in getting ensured of money for future investments..?

  2. Maria 09/21/2011 at 1:39 PM

    This is a good information, so if I may ask. I bought a property in March 2010 and a holdback money was held because the seller needs to finish a job at the property but as of this date wasn't done. 1 1/2 yrs had passed and the job hasn't been done by the house builder and and the contract stated that 60 days prior to completion and the job is not done there will be a holdback of such money. I'm so shocked to know that the money had been released to the seller and when I get back to her again she said she has it .Now i asked the lawyer to release the money but after weeks of asking she won't and says the seller has to agree first. I waited for 1 1/2 years what should I do now.


  3. Mike Stewart 09/21/2011 at 4:27 PM

    Hi Maria,

    Good to hear from you.

    Here is my answer on my blog:

    Speak soon!


Thank you! Your comment has been submitted and is awaiting approval.

Blog Archives