Can a Homeowner Legally Refuse To Sell a Home to a Potential Buyer?
Rejecting a purchase offer on a home that's for sale is entirely legal as long as the seller refuses for the right reasons and with good intentions. Many reasons are legally acceptable, including offers below the asking price and concerns about the buyer's financial position. However, sellers cannot discriminate against individuals protected under state and federal law. For example, you can't refuse to sell a home to someone based on gender, age, or race.
This article provides a brief overview of good faith reasons that may be an appropriate basis for you to reject a home purchase offer.
Reasons To Refuse To Sell
In truth, there are many reasons to refuse an offer. The bottom line is that it's your house and you can refuse to sell it. An attorney or real estate agent can explain the advantages and disadvantages of any offer, but valid reasons for rejection include:
The Offer Wasn't High Enough
You certainly don't want to take a loss on your property if you can avoid it. A home seller can always reject an offer that they don't think reflects the value of their real property. Even if the offer is above the listing price, the seller has the legal right to deny the offer and accept a higher sale price.
You're Not Sure the Home Buyer Can Get a Loan
If the economic position of a potential buyer is questionable, the buyer may not be able to get a mortgage loan from a lender. Accepting an offer only to have the sale fall through before the closing date wastes valuable time. It might also prevent property owners from accepting a better offer.
You've Changed Your Mind and No Longer Wish To Sell
It's your house — you can stay there for as long as you like. Just because you put it on the real estate market doesn't mean you're obligated to sell. However, once you enter into a purchase agreement, you do have an obligation to see the home sale through. If you break the sales agreement without a valid legal reason for doing so, the buyer can take you to court to enforce specific performance of the purchase contract.
Illegal Reasons To Refuse To Sell
Even though homeowners may reject an offer if they wish, doing so for the wrong reasons can lead to legal action.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing discrimination. This means a seller can't consider a potential buyer's race, color, sex, familial status, or national origin when deciding whether to accept or refuse an offer.
Legally Refusing To Sell a Home to a Buyer: Additional Resources
When selling your home, you likely have many questions and want to do everything by the book. If you want additional research, please use the links below to learn more. Remember, it is always best to seek the legal advice of a local real estate attorney if you have questions about rejecting an offer.
- Selling Your Home: Do You Need a Real Estate Agent?
- Required Real Estate Disclosures When Selling Property
- Buying and Selling a House at the Same Time
Selling Your Home? Get Help From an Attorney
One of the first professionals you'll contact before selling your home is a real estate agent or real estate broker. Realtors understand the housing market and can negotiate a higher purchase price with the buyer's agent. They can also help guide you through the real estate transaction.
You should also consider speaking with a real estate attorney. An attorney can review the sales contract for any red flags and can include stipulations in the real estate contract if needed. You might also need an attorney in case you would like to refuse to sell to a homeowner, or a homeowner refuses to sell to you.
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