Can a Buyer Back Out of a House Before Closing?

No matter the reason, you can back out of buying a house before closing. However, the costs involved can be quite substantial. Read this article on backing out of a house to learn more.
Written by Rochelle Miller-Hernandez
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
A buyer can back out before closing, but there may be certain costs involved.
It's not uncommon to make an offer to
buy a house
and then find yourself wondering if you've made a mistake. When that happens, and you're sure it's more than just the jitters, you can still back out of buying the house.
Here are your options for backing out of the agreement to purchase, presented by
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You can withdraw your offer

If you've made an offer, but the seller has not formally accepted it and signed the paperwork, you can still withdraw it. You have to make sure the seller’s agent knows so that they can inform the seller.
Of course, if the seller makes a counter offer, you can back out. If you do not agree to the new offer, just refuse to accept it and the deal is over.

Inspection contingency

Purchase agreements also include an inspection contingency. You can back out of buying a house before closing if you do not like something uncovered in the inspection report. This is why it is important to get a
home inspection
before moving forward. Often, a lender may require it as well, depending on the type of mortgage you apply for.
The does not necessarily allow for the cancellation of the contract for minor repairs equaling a small dollar amount. For example, the seller can decide ahead of time that they are willing to pay up to $1,000 of repairs to keep a contract intact. If a minor repair is discovered during inspection and they pay to have it fixed based on the agreement, you may not be able to cancel without penalty.
However, if a major repair is discovered and you are no longer interested because of it or the seller will not work with you to resolve it, you can back out.

Backing out due to a low appraisal

Sometimes during an appraisal, the value of a home comes in lower than the offer price. For example, if you have a purchase agreement with a selling price of $500,000, but the appraisal comes in at $450,000, you were mislead and have the option to back out of buying the house.
Sometimes a seller can counteroffer and lower the selling price. Other times, they may ask the buyer to split the difference. In that case, the seller would lower the selling price a bit and the buyer would put more money down.
There are even cases in which the buyer wants a house so much that they will pay the entire difference in order to secure the purchase of the home. However, you must keep in mind that your lender will only approve you for the appraisal amount. Anything over that amount is your responsibility.

Financing contingency

Most purchase agreements include a contingency for securing financing. There are specific requirements you have to meet. The first is you must
apply for your mortgage
within a certain time period. Often, it is within 72 hours of the offer being accepted. If you have applied and do not qualify for a mortgage, you can get any escrow or deposits refunded back to you and back out of the process.
Because sellers do not want to go through the hassle of working with an unqualified buyer, they will often request a loan pre-approval letter from your mortgage lender at the time the offer is being made. This ensures them that chances are high you will get approved.

Backing out and accepting loss of deposit

In the end, you can just walk away, lose your deposits, and pay for any expenses incurred that were your responsibility.
For example, in the purchase agreement, it may be outlined that you would pay for the appraisal. If you cancel, you would still have to pay that cost. Depending on the amount of the deposit, backing out can equate to losing a lot of money. This is something to consider before making a final decision.
No matter the reason, you can back out of buying a house before closing. However, the costs involved can be quite substantial. If you find that you want to cancel your purchase agreement, it is important to get a clear understanding of what it might cost you. You can speak with your agent or consult with a mortgage expert to review your options.
Backing out of a home purchase might be costly, but it may also be the best option for you in the long run.
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