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Legal advice: When closing the deal on your home's sale, put everything in writing. Or else

Q: I signed an agreement of purchase and sale for the sale of my home. We are downsizing and our kids are off on their own, so we don’t need all the space we have. The purchaser was somewhat reluctant but ended up signing the agreement and it was a firm purchase (no conditions). Four weeks after we were all signed up and still quite a bit of time before the final closing, our lawyer received a call from the purchaser’s lawyer saying that his client had buyer’s remorse and would like to get out of the deal. We worked back and forth considering the amount of penalty that would be applicable and when we finally made him an offer he came back finally stating that he wanted to close the transaction (the cost to walk away was too high).

We were left with a really bad taste in our mouth and had spent four weeks totally unsure of our future. Can this guy do this and get away with it?

A: I am assuming that none of this was put in writing by the purchaser lawyer. If he had stated in writing that his client didn’t want the house,  then you could have claimed anticipatory breach of the contract and proceeded to pursue your legal remedies. Because the entire back-and-forth was unwritten (everything with respect to real estate must be in writing), you can’t claim the breach of contract and you have to proceed with the transaction.

Please remember that. I hope you were happy with the original contract and that you still have a new chapter in your lives as empty nesters.

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