My seller is getting cold feet. How do I keep them in the deal?

13 Replies

I have a house under contract from a motivated seller.  It is the house the seller grew up in and his parents have since died. He is not emotionally tied to the house but has been sitting on it because his brother and aunt are.  He finally decided to sell the house we put it under contract. We have all our bids in and are past the option period. He called me today asking if there was anyway I would let him out of the contract because his family is making life hell for him and he feels horrible.  Legally, he is bound to the contract. My question is have you had this happen before and what sort of comfort did you provide or how did you respond to the seller? 

@Jerry Puckett @jscott 

That's a rough situation. He is legally obligated to sell the property to you. You have to decide what is more important the $ you will make on the deal or the word of mouth. I would try to calm them down. Explain that you have X amount tied up in bids/inspections. You also have X amount of hours tied up in the project. If you found him marketing (I assume so with Jerry tagged) explain you have costs to cover as well. I would try to dig into the situation a bit and see what is going on with them. There may be something you can resolve that is going on. They don't understand your plans with the house etc. 

I think you let this one go, in the spirit of good will.  Otherwise you will be dragging this guy into the title office kicking & screaming.  Or, having lawyers call him to threaten him with legal action.  All that stuff sucks.

Let him off with the agreement that he will give your business cards to 10 of his friends.  Empathize with his situation and ask how you can help, beyond letting him out of the deal.  If he feels like you did him a solid, good chance he will become an advocate for you, rather than your foe in a legal battle... (Also a good chance he'll come back to you when he CAN sell the house.)

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” ~ Warren Turner

I think you should move on from this one. The only way I'd attemp to proceed would be if I could solve the sellers problem,if he has one. 

Sounds like this is a personal issue with the family. Perhaps let him out of the contract but have a first right of refusal at or below the same price, if it comes back to the market.

Originally posted by @Katie Neason :

I have a house under contract from a motivated seller.  It is the house the seller grew up in and his parents have since died. He is not emotionally tied to the house but has been sitting on it because his brother and aunt are.  He finally decided to sell the house we put it under contract. We have all our bids in and are past the option period. He called me today asking if there was anyway I would let him out of the contract because his family is making life hell for him and he feels horrible.  Legally, he is bound to the contract. My question is have you had this happen before and what sort of comfort did you provide or how did you respond to the seller? 

@Jerry Puckett @jscott 

It's about the best business decision, not an emotional decision. Don't tell me, he's the one doing the upkeep, maintenance, responsible for taxes, insurance and care of the place while they sit back thing about Thanksgivings and Christmas. Tell him the hell with them won't last long. If they want the place, tell him you'll sell your contract to them, but you'll only take money, not memories for your work.

I push such sellers past emotion and stress what is best for them, not so much what selfish emotional family members may want with no skin in the other side of the ownership responsibilities.

Know too that for money people will lie, maybe his thoughts have changed due to greed, maybe you got too much of a good deal.

And, if he just refuses, what will you do? Sue him? You may get damages but usually a seller isn't forced to move out. An old saying, you can't really force a seller to sell, you can make them wish they had.  :)

This is a difficult one.  I had a similar situation but a longer option time frame.  We drove down the street just as the woman was putting a sign in the front lawn.  She agreed to a price and took our option money but only if she could live in it for another year.  We agreed and a month before the year was up we told her we would exercise the option in 30 days.

She called us and said she had changed her mind and decided not to sell due to a rising market and wanted to sell at the new value.  We told her we had an option and intended to go through with closing on the property.  Her family told her she sold it too cheap and she tried to use her son's health as an excuse so we asked for the option money back to which she responded that it was hers and she didn't have to give it back.

We ended going to arbitration and she finally honored the contract but not without extra expense and grief for my wife with the local board of Realtors, who, though they admitted we did nothing wrong said we should have let her keep the money and the house. ????

So how much trouble are you willing to go to?  How good a deal did you make and is it really worth the hassle?

Is it possible to get together with him, face to face, and ask him exactly what the family's issues are? Perhaps they don't want to see it torn down, but would rather have a family in it. If their desires match your end result, perhaps you could find a way to convince them all? 

It is a tough call. I would love to know what happens. Good luck.

i like what bill said. sell the contract back to him for a small fee.  depends on how desperate this guy sounds. if not you can be nice.  you put a lot of time into this guy im assuming. you should get some money

Follow your heart, as cliche as that sounds.  

I would move on, @Dev Horn has solid advice.  I would rather leave a good lasting impression with a potential future customer rather than sow the seeds of greed.

Please don't sell him back the contract to his home.

Looks like you have two distinct options. What @Dev Horn says and what @Bill G. says. I would push him on the problem with the family. Find out what is really going on. If you can resolve/push past it great. If not move on. 

I will bet they got another better offer , and they may be playing the sympathy card .

I've had it happen twice. I did not get communication and stories about family members' emotions. I just got 'no communication' after we signed contracts and earnest money . One was a vacant house and one was a vacant lot, so, they weren't owner-occupied and I believe they both got better offers later.

I sued both of them for performance and got both properties. 

I would say, meet with him and look him in the eye to see, if he seems sincere.

If you really can't change his mind, maybe you can convince him to then give you an option for a certain amount of time and record that with the courthouse, to cloud the title - just in case he's gotten a higher offer and tries to sell it behind your back.

I appreciate everyone's input. In short, I have told the seller that we would like to move forward with the contract as agreed upon but not at the expense of creating an enemy. If he was unable to work out the issues on his side we would assign the contract back to him for a $2,500 fee. We will see where it goes from here. I decided he did need a way out but that is should have a cost associated with it. I hate when people make decisions based on emotions!!!!

@Katie Neason  

This way you may have also given him a way to sell it , without creating a family war. 

It's his relatives that want him to keep it, so, now he could ask them to 'put up or shut up' and you all might find out that they don't really want it that badly.......That often happens, when you ask people to prove their convictions.

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