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Can you pull out of a house sale after signing contracts?


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Residential Sales – Selling Your Property

You cannot pull out of a house sale after both parties have signed and exchanged unconditional contracts.

Once contracts are signed and exchanged the transaction is legally binding unless there is a condition which cannot be fulfilled.

If a seller refuses to complete the sale a buyer can take legal action called specific performance which is an equitable remedy in the law of contract, whereby a court issues an order requiring a party to perform a specific act, such as to complete performance of the contract.  An order like this can usually be acquired in a matter of days. 

If the buyer refuses to complete the purchase they will lose their deposit and may also be liable to additional damages. 

The only exception is if both parties enter into a mutual agreement to void the contract.  Sometimes this can be arranged in exceptional and unforeseen circumstances, but it is totally dependent on the goodwill of the other party.

When buying at auction the drop of the hammer is legally binding. Buyers should only bid at auction if they are certain of their funding. Mortgage approval is usually conditional, thus contracts should not be signed until a full loan offer is received from the bank.  Buying at auction is extremely risky in these circumstances and should only be considered if you have done your due diligence and you can afford to lose your deposit.

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