Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Did My Contract Void Because I Asked for a Repair?

Did My Contract Void Because I Asked for a Repair?

In Texas, when you have a meeting of the minds with a signed, fully executed real estate contract, it's pretty hard to just void that contract. Contracts are legally binding.

I see a lot of consumers posting on public real estate forums things like, "I have a contract to purchase a house, did my inspections, asked for a couple of repairs, and now the seller is selling to another buyer for more money..."

Void Texas real estate contractThe above cannot happen in Texas. I don't know what other states' contracts say, as I'm only versed in the Texas contract.  In TEXAS, just because you, as the buyer, asked for repairs does not automatically void the contract that is already executed. 

If both parties agree to amending the contract, making a change, then that executed contract has been changed. If ONE party asks for a change, and the other party does not agree to the change, there is still a contract in place. Asking to change the contract doesn't "open" the contract up, as many consumers say on these public forums.

One guy even bragged about how the buyer asked for a couple of repairs, so he took that opportunity to sell to another buyer for $7000 more.  What?  He already has a CONTRACT! You can't just ignore the contract and go sell to someone else. Not sure how the buyer's agent on that transaction allowed it to happen (this was a FSBO so no agent on the seller's side), but that could not happen in Texas.

Yes, there are many ways out of the contract, but "asking" for a change does not change a contract. Both parties agreeing to a change can change a contract.

**Are You Packed Yet?**

Donna Harris, REALTOR®
Regent Property Group
austintexas-homesforsale.com
Donna@DonnaHomes.com
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Austin TX Real Estate and the surrounding areas of Lakeway, Bee Cave, West Lake Hills, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Spicewood, Circle-C, Steiner Ranch, and everywhere in between... Hill Country Austin TX Real Estate and beyond. Whether you're buying or selling an Austin home, I'll be with you every step of the way. 

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Copyright© 2014 By Donna Harris, All Rights Reserved. You may re-blog with links back to this post.*Did My Contract Void Because I Asked for a Repair?* was first published on donnahomesblog.com.

Comment balloon 31 commentsDonna Harris • May 15 2014 07:20AM

Comments

The contract is not void in CA either.  I am glad it can still be negotiated.  Have a great day.

Posted by Elite Home Sales Team, A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team (Elite Home Sales Team OC) over 3 years ago

Hi Donna, You are right... Asking for repairs does not void the contract. After the inspection report, there are many items that need to be fixed and are all subject to agreement on both sides. The lender also may insist on fixing certain things to fund the loan and if the seller was ok for an FHA buyer then there are even more things. It's not that easy to break a contract.

Posted by Les & Sarah Oswald, Broker, Realtor and Investor (Eastvale Team Realty & Property Mgmt) over 3 years ago

It works the same way in Oregon too.

Posted by Catherine Ulrey, Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist (Keller Williams Capital City) over 3 years ago

Donna, I recently had a situation where the seller is renting back for a few days after closing. The seller wanted to change the date. The buyer was committed to the June 12 date because that's the date she gave her apartment complex as the moving date. When I contacted the buyer, she was worried he could go after another buyer. No 6/12 is in our contract and he can't change that without your approval.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 3 years ago

Excellent point about a contract and amendments Donna. I don't know how the other states do it, but opening a contact sounds scary.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 3 years ago

hi Donna,   That is correct but usually our repair requests occur during the option period, so that does make a difference.

Posted by Ricki Eichler McCallum, Broker,GRI,ABR, - Your Coastal Bend Home Source (CastNet Realty) over 3 years ago

Great point Donna, here in CT the repair request is still within the option phase and if they cannot come to an agreement by the deadline for that contingency either party can opt out of the contract, with notice.

Posted by Stacy Ann Stephens, Realtor, New Haven & Hartford CT Homes For Sale (Keller Williams Realty CT - 860-704-9070) over 3 years ago

That is crazy. I wonder what state that contract was written in. In any case have a wonderful Sunday.

Posted by Sussie Sutton, UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers. (UTR Texas Realtors) over 3 years ago

Donna-Good explanation on the Texas contract. Requesting repairs is not an automatic escape mechanism for either party.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) over 3 years ago

Hi Donna, well said! but i think that's how they do to make more money...
Whatever it is, that's not acceptable.

Posted by Christopher Lotte, Central Ohio Realtor, 614-390-9243 (Key Realty) over 3 years ago

In our area, a seller cannot void a contract pursuant to requested repairs.  All they can do is refuse. 

The buyer, however, can look at the home inspection report and then, either void the contract or ask for repairs, ask for a price adjustment or take the house "as it is".

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 3 years ago

Not void in Oregon either.  The seller you're writing about would be in big trouble for selling his home to two parties.

Posted by Geoff ONeill (John L. Scott Medford) over 3 years ago

It's always interesting to see how things are done in other states and how many things are still similar.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 3 years ago

Here in NC inspections and repair negotiations take place within the option period.  Terminating the contract is usually done via a form which both parties sign.  But if the repairs are still being negotiated, and the option date comes, and the buyer is supposed to pay earnest money on that date, but he doesn't do it because repairs are still being negotiated and the option date has not been extended -- in that case I think maybe the contract is terminated without paperwork.  By not paying the earnest money on the required date, the buyer is in default so is the contract then void and the seller free to enter into another contract?  That may be the case.  

Posted by Dianne Goode, Realtor/Broker (Raleigh Cary Realty) over 3 years ago

Well said Donna, I am always amazed how many Sellers feel that they can just walk out of a contract. 

Posted by Paula McDonald, Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury) over 3 years ago

Dianne, That sounds confusing. In Texas, the earnest money is deposited immediately upon execution of the contract. Also, if the buyer wants to terminate during the Option Period, it's a one-sided form that only the buyer has to sign; seller does not sign that termination as the seller has no say if the buyer wants to terminate during that time.

Paula, Thanks!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 3 years ago

In Maryland, only the Buyer can declare a contract void after doing a home inspection.  The seller can refuse to do some repairs, offer credit at the closing table in place of doing repairs, but not declare the contract void.

Posted by Bob Force (REALTOR®), The FORCE in Maryland Real Estate (Weichert Realtor - New Colony) over 3 years ago

Donna, I'm not a Texas real estate agent, but I suspect its pretty much like anywhere else...you can't force a seller to sell to someone, even if there is a contract. Of course there are repurcussions, but that would be up to a court to decide. Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 3 years ago

It's not void in Florida, either. I did have buyer from MN last week that were worried that if they asked for a repair that they'd lose the contract.

Posted by Chris Griffith, Bonita Springs Listing Agent (Downing-Frye Realty, Bonita Springs, FL) over 3 years ago

You're right about it being a state-by-state issue.  We have language in our contract about the inspection contingency covering time, buyer rights, and negotiation of repairs may occur.  Doesn't mean seller will want to negotiate.  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192, Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results (BuyersAgentPortland.com | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time) over 3 years ago

Repair should be covered just  basis I would say.

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 3 years ago

typo: onan ethical basis

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 3 years ago

Let me guess: the agent who was bragging the contract was void was on facebook? Consumers should be wary of what they read on forums could be wrong!

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 3 years ago

The wording is similar in Oklahoma. But, you must remember that the buyers writing in the forums often leave out pertinent information. Like they asked for repairs that were over the contracted amount. The seller refused, the buyer walked and THEN the seller sold to someone else. I suppose there could have already been a back up offer in place. In most cases the Buyer got just as greedy as they are accusing the seller of being.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 3 years ago

Good post as too many of the public web site publish stuff which is totally incorrect. thanks for publishing this information.  

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 3 years ago

Much needed blog, thank you.

The only person that can change the contract is the one who has a contingency....the BUYER.

Contingency on inspection, appraisal, insurance and whatever elso they want.Seller can arbitrarily do nothing but wait for the buyer next move.  Period.

This is not just a "texas" thing it is the contract...something that most agent don't read or understand.

Eve

Eve

Posted by Mike & Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) over 3 years ago

In Oklahoma if repairs are not agreed on that exceed the amount asked in the contract, there still needs to be a formal release of contract signed by all parties before another contract can be accepted. In my experience if buyer and seller are reasonable, and contracted at a fair price, then as REALTORS® our job is to work for the transaction and satisfication of both parties before one walks away. 

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 3 years ago

When my daughter bought and sold her home in Mansfield, TX, we both noticed how different the process was -and, I might add, how much shorter and less complex the contract was than we have on MD.

The MD Association of REALTORS Property Inspection Addendum has 2 options, and the parties agree during contract negotiations which option is in effect: summarizing here...  1) buyer can walk away after the home inspection for any reason at all after the home inspection, no questions asked, or 2) buyer can submit a list of issues and the seller can agree to fix or not. If another offer comes in during the interim and the patties can't agree on fixing the home inspection issues, the contract may be terminated and the buyer's deposit refunded. Rarely is the first option used, but it is possible for the buyer (not the seller) to unilaterally walk away.

(Let me include a disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. It is my understanding of this form.)

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 3 years ago

Donna, PA is the same, once the agreement is signed it is a contract and both parties must agree in writing for any changes to be made. Contracts avoid the Wild West from happening and allow everybody to know what is going to happen and when. 

Posted by Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) over 3 years ago

Great post!  We are the same in Nevada.  You cannot void a contract just by asking something.

 

Posted by Jimmy Chickey, Realtor, Nationally Recognized Author, Teacher (Keller Williams Realty Southwest, Partner in the Jamie Cox Group) over 3 years ago

So many nuances and differences from state to state on this issue. In NC we are a due diligence state which gives a buyer a period of time to do due diligence, which includes repair requests. If seller refuses to do anything, the buyer can choose to lose his due diligence fee and walk away.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Area Realtor (RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC) over 3 years ago

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