Yes, either party can still change their mind and back out. In Ireland, a property is “sale agreed” once an offer is accepted and the buyer has paid a booking deposit to the estate agency.
At this stage, nothing is legally binding. The agreement is “subject to contract”. This is the start of the legal process. Legally, either party can back out, usually without penalty.
However, both parties have given their word (in pre-digital times would have shaken hands) and, as a matter of honour, are morally bound to complete the transaction unless unforeseen matters arise.
Suppose the seller decides to cancel the deal and accept a higher offer from another buyer simply out of greed. In that case, this is called “gazumping”, which is legally permitted but considered morally reprehensible.
It is also unwise, as, in our experience, the new buyer may have a lower moral standard and is less likely to complete the purchase. Once signed contracts are exchanged, legal enforcement becomes possible.
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