Quick cures for seller's remorse
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

You're one of the lucky ones. You've found a buyer for your home and have a purchase agreement signed by all parties. All should be grand.

Then it hits---a major case of seller's remorse. You're having second thoughts about selling your home. There's only one thing to do. Call the buyer and back out of the sale, right?

Before you make that "I've changed my mind" phone call and hear the screaming on the other end of the line, understand your legal obligations and penalties under the purchase agreement. Decide if you're prepared to handle the worst case scenario and evaluate what you'll be giving up if you do back out.

First of all, understand that getting cold feet is normal for both sellers and buyers. Usually this malady hits buyers first, in part because they're writing the check for the earnest money deposit, applying for the loan--things that deal directly with parting with money.

Sellers, on the other hand, usually have a major case of cold feet when they start to make arrangements for moving or when they start to pack things up. And, unfortunately, this is often late in the transaction, causing the buyer's response to be anything but understanding. That's why it's very important to know what recourse the buyer could have against you if you don't complete the sale.

Depending on how the purchase agreement is written, the buyer could sue you for specific performance. This means that the buyer would take you to court to make you go through with the sale, as you agreed to in the contract. You face legal costs and could end up parting with the house after all.

The buyer could sue you for damages. Depending on what the buyer has done toward closing the sale (outlay of loan costs, money for moving arrangements, etc.) you might be responsible for recouping those costs in the form of damages.

Lastly, backing out of the sale could cause you costs of sale, even though you've decided not to sell. The listing agreement you signed with the real estate agent no doubt had a provision that if the agent finds you a "ready, willing and able buyer" who makes an offer that you accept, you could be responsible for paying the commission if you back out.

And when evaluating the cost of not completing a sale, don't forget that your initial intention was to sell. And if you back out now but later want to sell, you'll need to go through the entire marketing, waiting, negotiating and closing process all over again.

If nothing else, this should be enough to convince you to complete the sale and move on with your life.