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Why a Signed Contract Isn’t the End of a Sale
By Texas Assoc. of Realtors
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 • Posted July 19, 2013 11:19 AM

Whew. The buyer and seller both signed the contract, so that’s it, right? The house is sold, and everyone moves on. Not so fast. There’s still a long way to go.

Unfortunately, sometimes real estate transactions that start out fine unravel for any number of reasons. But when you’re aware of problems that can occur, you may be able to avoid them. Here are a few to watch for and, if possible, avoid.

The buyer changes his mind

The residential contract includes a termination option, which allows a buyer to get out of the contract for a certain number of days. The buyer pays for this option, and the amount paid as well as the number of days are negotiated by parties to the contract. During the option period, the buyer can terminate the contract for any reason – or for no reason at all. He may get cold feet, change his mind, find a property he likes better, or learn something about the property that he didn’t know when he negotiated the contract.

An inspection reveals bad things

Speaking of learning additional information about a property, most buyers hire a professional inspector to examine the home and identify problems. Most of the time, this inspection occurs during the option period. If an inspection turns up something significant, the buyer may decide to exercise his option or he may decide that he still wants to proceed. He also may attempt to amend the contract, either by changing the price or by getting the seller to make repairs at the seller’s expense. Obviously, this introduces elements that can disrupt the transaction or end it altogether.

Financing isn’t available to the buyer

It’s not enough for a buyer to tell the seller how much he will pay for the home. The buyer must prove that he’s able to pay that much. If the purchaser isn’t paying cash for the property, he’ll need a mortgage. And if he can’t get that financing, that’s a deal killer. What happens when a buyer cannot secure a loan depends on how the contract was filled out. In some instances, the buyer may be on the hook for the earnest money – sort of a good-faith deposit – he paid. In other cases, the buyer will receive a refund of his earnest money.

The home isn’t worth the purchase price

Even if a buyer can qualify for the loan amount, the property may not. That is, most lenders require an appraisal of a home prior to making a loan. The lender wants to know that the collateral for the loan – the property itself – is actually worth the purchase price.

Title problems derail the process

Some homes have title problems that can grind a transaction to a halt. Perhaps there's a lien on the property or an easement that affects the quality of life of the property owners. There may even be a claim that the person selling the home isn't the true owner after all.

And another thing …

As you can see, there are many ways a promising real estate deal can crash and burn. Add the following to the list above: agreed-to repairs that the buyer deems unsatisfactory or incomplete; a surprise during the final walk-through of the home, such as an item that was supposed to convey that is no longer in the home; a sudden request right before or at closing; and plain-old default.

Whether you are a buyer or seller, your Texas realtor can help you avoid these scenarios and give you good advice when a potential deal-killer does arise. Sometimes, he may suggest you turn to a lawyer, inspector, engineer, or other professional for assistance; other times, he may be able to put things back on track with a phone call or two. Either way, it's nice to have someone on your side to help you achieve your goal of buying or selling a home.

For more information on buying or selling property in Texas, plese call Waymond Lightfoot at (210) 386-5201.

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