Seller’s Rights When Selling a House: What You Can and Can’t Do

September 24th, 2021
Blogs

Selling a home can easily be equated to a miniaturized national crisis. So many things are going on at the same time that you can easily get swept by the current if you are not properly informed. As a result, it’s of paramount importance to understand what a seller’s rights when selling a house are.

You should know what you can and can’t do, as it regards listing your home, accepting and rejecting offers, and adding contingencies in the contract. This article will explain what your rights are when selling a house, so that you can safely and securely close a sale.

Listing Your Home as You See Fit

A somewhat common misconception is that you can only sell property through a realtor or an agency. This is not true. While selling property on your own takes work, you have the right to sell your home as you see fit, including listing where and when you want, taking care of the marketing, having or not having showings, etc.

This also means that you are allowed to set the asking price and ultimately negotiate. But take note that just because you can set a high price doesn’t mean you should. The US real estate market is hot right now, which means that you can make good money from a sale, but there is always a balance between how high and how fast you can sell.

Rejecting Unsuitable Offers

You have the right to reject offers you find unsuitable, however, this is one right that has limits. You are not allowed to discriminate based on protected characteristics. Pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, you cannot refuse to sell because of a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.

This limitation extends to refusing to negotiate, setting different terms or conditions, or even denying that the house is for sale (if the denial would be a lie). So, you cannot treat potential buyers differently based on these protected characteristics. On the other hand, you can freely reject an offer based on the price, the timing, or other conditions they wish to set.

You Can Ask for Proof of Funds

Seller’s Rights When Selling a House

An additional right you have is to ask for proof of funds. The proof of funds is a document demonstrating that your buyer has the financial means to cover the expenses of the sale. The POF is not the same as a preapproval letter for a loan, but usually proves that the buyer has enough money to make the down payment and cover the closing costs.

Challenging a Home Appraisal

One of the most important home seller’s rights (although situation-specific) is the ability to challenge an appraisal. As most regular buyers will have to get approved for a loan to purchase a home, the lender will almost always demand that a home appraisal be performed.

The appraisal is used to determine the market value of the home and the amount the buyer can borrow is contingent on it. This can become an issue if the appraisal is well below the asking price. For one, it’s possible that you have set too high a price, which can make for a tough sell. In such a case, you can ask the buyer to make up the difference or lower your price.

However, if you are relatively certain that the appraisal was not conducted properly, you have the right to challenge the appraisal. If you end up being correct, it may get you back on track and help the buyer get a higher loan, thus selling your house for more.

Accepting Suitable Offers

Just as you can reject unsuitable offers, it’s up to you to accept an offer you like. But once again, there are some caveats. If you are selling through a real estate agent and they find you a good offer that you intend on accepting, you can’t just fire the agent and take the house off-market to avoid paying the commission, and later accept the offer.

Strictly speaking, you can, but you will likely be subject to litigation and end up paying both the commission and additional costs. Consequently, this is not a smart move. But what offer you end up accepting is ultimately up to you.

Adding Contingencies to the Contract

What you can do is add contingency clauses to the contract – making the sale contingent on certain conditions being met. A time frame contingency for the purchase is common. You can also make the sale contingent on you signing a contract to buy another house so that you have a place to move to. It’s best if you discuss adding contingency clauses with your lawyer.

Can You Accept Another Offer if You Are Under Contract?

Wanting to back out of a sale after accepting an offer because a better buyer has come along is not uncommon. However, residential real estate laws are firmly on the side of the buyer in this case. You can back out if the buyer does not perform, e.g. doesn’t get approved for a loan, or based on other contingencies you added to the contract.

But if the buyer fulfills their obligations and all contingencies are met, you can’t simply back out. You could be sued for breach of contract and forced by a court to sell your house anyway. You could also be held liable for the buyer’s legal fees and fees relating to the sale. However, breach of contract is a civil matter, so it is not punishable by jail time.

On the other hand, you can look at other offers while you are under contract. You can put another buyer in the backup position. If the deal doesn’t go through, the secondary buyer, with the better offer, can automatically be under contract with you.

Is the Contract in Writing?

One more thing we should note is that all real estate contracts should be in writing. Oral contracts are usually not binding. So, if you promised to sell your home, but didn’t sign any documents, you should be able to back out of the deal without any repercussions. The same goes for the potential buyer.

Minding Your Rights and Accepting the Best Offer

Transfer House Ownership

Ultimately, it’s up to you how you will sell and what offer you’ll accept. If you want to find a buyer that will respect your rights and buy for a fair price, contact SleeveUp Homes. We’ve seen too many people get low-balled and pressured by wholesalers and realtors into accepting bad offers, which is why we always pay top dollar for properties.

Because we don’t work with realtors, you won’t be paying any commission, and you can sell your home as-is, without investing in repairs. Request a no-obligation cash offer and we will contact you straight away. If you don’t like our offer you can always walk away, no strings attached. But, if you do, you can close within the week and secure your financial future.