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Can a buyer or seller cancel an offer to purchase?

The buyer can cancel an offer to purchase, but doing so will be extremely costly.

  • The buyer may lose their deposit.
  • The seller may claim damages.
  • The buyer will be liable for the agent’s commission.
  • If the transfer of the property is already underway, the attorney responsible for it may also claim costs from the buyer.

So it’s important to be absolutely certain you want the home, and that you can afford it, before you sign the offer to purchase. It is a legally binding document after all.

The seller, similarly, can be sued, or forced to go ahead with the sale.

However, the offer to purchase may include clauses that allow for it to be cancelled under certain conditions. For example, the seller may include what’s called the 72-hour clause, which means that they can accept another offer for the home, but only if they notify the buyer and give them 72 hours to fulfill the conditions of the offer to purchase.

There may also be conditions that need to be fulfilled before the offer to purchase becomes valid, in which case it can be cancelled if those conditions aren’t fulfilled.

Consult an attorney to help determine whether you can cancel the offer to purchase without legal consequences.

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