Nadel & Ciarlo, P.C.

Why house sales sometimes fall through

Everybody's seen it before: a house on the block up for sale, a "Pending" sign appears after awhile -- then, suddenly, instead of a "Sold" sign going up, the house is simply back on the market again with no explanation.

Why? What could possibly happen? Is it something wrong with the house? Maybe, but the odds are against it. Here are the usual reasons:

1. The buyer can't get a mortgage.

Not everyone thinks to check to see if they can get a mortgage in the price range they're shopping in -- and a lot of factors can play into what a bank will do. You can have a good income but be self-employed and a bank will still hesitate to bet too much money on you, just in case things in your business go south.

2. The buyers can't sell their own home.

Some house sales are "contingent" on the sale of the buyer's home within a certain period. If the buyer can't get what's known as a bridge loan to cover both his or her old mortgage and the new one under one payment while the old one sells, the seller of the home you've been watching will sometimes still accept the bid on a contingent basis -- but sellers won't wait forever. Usually the buyer has 60 to 90 days to offload the home or the new place goes back on the active market.

3. The buyer got cold feet.

Buyer's remorse is real and houses are a big commitment. Since there are buyers out there who have a hard time committing to a pair of expensive shoes, you can imagine the panic that sets in when someone realizes they just bought a house. Suddenly, they want out. Sometimes the seller will let the deal go and take the deposit instead, while other times they'll take it to litigation to force the sale.

4. Something unexpected happened at the home inspection.

Chalk this up to buyer's remorse as well, unless it's something serious and non-obvious, like a crumbling foundation. All homes have issues. The home inspection lays them out in detail. Most will be small, but sometimes one or two will be a deal breaker for the buyer.

Given that a house is often the biggest purchase someone makes, it's no real surprise that there's often an occasional snag.

Source: The Balance, "Pending home sales gone bad," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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