Seller Remorse—or Seller Cold Feet

Typically 2 situations exist in which the Seller may get cold feet about selling:

  1. During the listing period or before an offer,
  2. After an offer is accepted

Here is a summary of these two circumstances.

1. During the Listing Period

If the seller changes his mind about selling when the home is listed and being marketed to potential buyers, in most cases the brokerage and the seller mutually agree to sign a “Suspension of Listing Agreement.”

In effect this document is amends the listing agreement and causes all brokerage activities, negotiations, showings and advertising to cease. The sign is taken down and a “no more action” is circulated through the brokerage and the MLS system. The listing agreement, though still in effect, but becomes inactive.

2. After an offer is accepted

When a seller has accepted an offer to purchase from a buyer, it becomes legally sticky for the seller to simply say, “I’ve decided I no longer want to sell.” This applies even if the buyer has yet to meet certain conditions, like mortgaging and home inspection.

Of course the possibility exists that the buyer may not obtain a mortgage or may not be satisfied with a home inspection. This allows the buyer to end the contract and gives a seller with second thoughts needed relief. If, however, a buyer removes his conditions, the offer becomes firm and binding, obligating the parties to proceed to a completion of the transaction.

A Duty of Good Faith

Each party to a contract has a duty of good faith. They are by law obligated to take all reasonable steps within their control to have the contract completed.

What Can a REALTOR® Do?

When a listing REALTOR® is contacted by a seller who wants out of an agreement to sell s/he will:

  • Advise the seller to talk to his lawyer as this decision poses a potential legal problem,
  • Notify the seller’s lawyer directly to make sure he has been made aware,
  • Inform the buyer brokerage and find out whether the buyer would consider releasing the seller of his contractual obligation.
  • Meet with the seller to try and get to the heart of such an about face and hopefully get the seller to reconsider.

Sometimes the reason is as simple as feeling that the home represents fond memories the seller cannot leave behind. Other times a seller feels overwhelmed.

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Eugene Pilato

Eugene Pilato

Broker of Record
CENTURY 21 Today Realty Ltd., Brokerage*
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