Although the housing market appears to be bouncing back, it can still take an average of 98 days or more to sell a home, depending on where you're located. Unfortunately, even when you do find someone willing to purchase your house, you may find yourself in an unenviable situation where the buyer suddenly decides to pull out of the transaction. While your first reaction may be to panic, here are three ways to deal with the situation instead.
Find Out the Reason
The first thing you should do is try to find out why the buyer wants to cancel the sale. There are two reasons for doing this. First, it may provide you with an opportunity to save the sale if the person gives you an excuse you can work with. For instance, if the buyer says his or her funding fell through, then you may want to investigate alternative financing options such as seller-financing or rent-to-own. Other common reasons buyers cancel include fear that property values will sink, found a different home, lifestyle changes, newly discovered problems with the home, and family emergencies.
Another reason to look into the buyer's motives for backing out is you may have a case for pursuing compensation for the cancellation. However, this depends on where you are in the buying process. If you accepted the buyer's offer and cashed his or her deposit check, for instance, then the buyer can be held to the terms of the contract. This means you may be able to retain some or all of the deposit the individual paid if the person's reason doesn't sufficiently meet the terms of the contract (e.g. the person decided to buy another house).
On the other hand, if the person only verbally promised to buy the home and didn't give you any money or signed a contract, then you may be out of luck in this area. It's best to discuss your options with your realtor and an attorney in this particular case.
Contact Other Potential Buyers
If you received multiple offers on your home, another option is to contact the people you rejected to see if they are still interested in purchasing the house. Depending on how much time elapsed between when the person submitted the offer and when the buyer backed out the deal, there may still be a few interested parties, especially if you live in a high-demand area.
Even if you didn't have other offers, talk to your real estate agent about contacting potential buyers who viewed the home or otherwise expressed interest it. You may get lucky and find someone who regretted not making an offer when the person had the chance and take advantage of the current situation by doing so now that the home is available again.
Be careful, though, and try not to seem desperate. If the new potential buyer senses you're trying to unload the home quickly, the individual may offer less than you want for the property.
Relist the Home
A third option available to you is to relist the home after you've sorted out the cancellation with the buyer. However, you should wait a few days before doing so. Use this time to evaluate the situation that lead to the last-minute cancellation and develop a strategy for avoiding a similar problem in the future.
For example, if the person cancelled because the person couldn't get financing, then you may want to only deal with people who have pre-approval letters from their banks. Since the banks have already vetted the applicants, these letters practically guarantees the buyers will get the money to purchase the home as long as their circumstances remain the same.
Having a buyer cancel at the last minute can be frustrating, but there are a variety of things you can do to turn the situation around. Contact a realtor for information about or assistance with this particular issue.