seller refuses to close

we are attempting to buy a house, both us and the sellers had agreed to a price and signed the contract. after 3 days the sellers wanted to get out of it due to unrelated circumstances. we have completed everything on our part, set up the loan and insurance, completed the inspection and appriasal. the sellers are now threatening to refuse to sign the closing papers. what do we do from here? we plan on seeing an attorney in the next couple days, the sellers know we are doing this too. does anyone have any advice on what we should be asking our attorney? is there any way of forcing the sellers to sell their house and abide by the contract we all have signed?

Howdy Jmilford:

This is rare but it does happen. Although contracts call for specific performance it is difficult to get a judge to force someone to sell their home if they changed their mind and want to stay especially if they have a compelling reason. Just to sell it for instance at a higher price would not be a compelling reason. The sellers could be liable for any expenses you incur in locating and buying another similar house. Keep in mind mainly the legal expenses involved in suing for specific performance especially if you do not win. You may be better off mitigating you losses with the seller and get the earnest money back and ask them to pay you back for the appraisal and inspection and any other out of pocket expenses. your lawyer fees for instance if you decide to hire one Monday.

You could tie it up in court and keep them from selling for months and even years but is it worth the time, money and aggravation.

how much do you think the legal expenses would be? could it really take months in court? the reason the sellers want out is because the husband was laid off in his job in texas, they were really eager to sell and even wanted to move up the closing date by at least a week, then all of a sudden it stopped. i do feel sympathy towards them but they also did sign a legal contract. also i feel the circumstances are a little “fishy” the husband had been in texas since october with his job, and now they are acting like they would have no place to go… i guess you would think that they would have had something set up in texas especially if they were only two weeks away from permanantly moving to a whole other state? many members of my family have been laid off ot some point in their lives and even though it can be a complete suprise they all said most of the times you somewhat know its coming. also, if they really wanted out of it because of that reason you would think they would have contacted the realtor as soon as the found out, but they waited until the realtor called them to tell them what time the inspection was for them to say anything.
also, is there a regulation about buyer/seller contact? my husband went with the inspector earlier this week and the seller (who had lost his job) was sitting in the living room watching the tv the whole time, when they went in the living room to check the outlets the seller confronted my husband (got in his face) and asked “do you want me to be broke and homeless” that’s also when he threatened legal representation?

Howdy Jmilford:

I would guess $3000 to $5000 retainer to start. I spent $1000 per month for 12 months once to get a $40,000 judgment and never collected a dime. I know for a fact it would take several months to even get to court. You really to not want to go to court.

The loss of a job is tough. I would not want to move to a new state without something lined up.

The is no regulation against meeting the seller. In a case like this it is best not to meet. The Realtor or a 3rd party is less emotional and can better help you.

You may have signed some papers to handle disputes thru arbitration instead of thru the courts. You may check into this. It could be quicker and cheaper to go that route. I still believe you will have a hard time kicking the owner out of his house. There are remedies in the contract for default on behalf of the buyer and seller but I do not believe that remedy will be available. Perhaps just your out of pocket expenses and return of earnest money.

It is unfortunate that this may not work out. If you can not get the house I hope you get another and can overcome your frustration . Good luck

Man! That stinks! I agree with ted - I wouldn’t hire a lawyer. I can almost guarantee you it will be $$ out of your pocket w/out anything to show for it. Your realtor (are you buying it through a realtor?) should EASILY be able to get your earnest $$ back, and I would think your expenses for the appraisal and the inspection without too much additional problem - unless, of course, the people are flat broke. You could be entitled to the $$, but if they don’t have it you’re looking at an uphill battle.

I would lean heavily on your realtor to handle the situation to your satisfaction, but (this is just my opinion) I’d forget about trying to actually buy this particular house and move on. It sounds like this transaction would hold nothing but headaches. They could make it a miserable situation if they don’t want to do the deal, which they clearly do not.

Keep us posted…
Karla in Amarillo