Offer on a House

When Can You Withdraw an Offer on a House?

Buying a house of your own is a long-cherished dream. You finally decide to make an offer on buying your dream house. And once you are done with all other formalities, the only thing remaining now is to sign the contract.

But suddenly, you might feel like there’s a better option in your hand. So, can a buyer back out of an accepted offer in Canada? You should not purchase a house when there is even the slightest hesitation.

So, if you wish to withdraw an offer on the house, here are a few things to know about.

When is backing out from buying a house too late?

It’s easier to pull out of a house purchase before signing the agreement when there are no contingency periods. You’ll have a considerably harder difficulty exiting after that moment or after the contingency period ends without getting into legal or financial trouble.

If there is a dispute, some nations require both parties to consent to mediation. That means you’ll have the opportunity to directly present your position to the seller with a neutral mediator assisting you. And perhaps, you can resolve the matter without going to court.

The consequences of breaking a contract on buying your house?

Simply put, the contract’s term is based on contingency. When the housing market suffers a downturn, buyers will inevitably back out of their commitments. Assume a house is valued at $500,000 this month. A buyer agrees to pay that amount for the house, but the market dips before the closing date, bringing the home’s worth down to $400,000.

If the lender’s appraisal is less than the seller’s initial asking price, the same problem can arise. Whatever the cause behind the buyer’s retracted offer, if they do not comply with the contract terms and conditions, they may face severe legal consequences.

Once the buyer fails to complete the agreed-upon deal, the buyer’s deposit is usually the first item they will forfeit. If the contract states that the seller has the right to keep the deposit if the potential buyer fails to meet the contract’s specific terms, the seller will keep the deposit.

If no such agreement was made in the deal, the seller’s mortgage broker will generally keep the deposit and will not be able to lawfully release it to the involved parties until a legal order is issued.

If the potential buyer violates the terms of their contract, they may face even more severe repercussions, including a costly lawsuit initiated by the seller. In many circumstances, if the seller sells their house to someone else, the potential buyer could be held accountable for the price difference.

Withdrawing an offer on buying a house with the contingency

A normal real estate contract contains several contingencies, which are the criteria that must be completed before proceeding with your house purchase. This involves a shared understanding of specified tasks that must be done within a defined period.

Homebuyers may include stipulations for a house inspection. It includes obtaining financing from their creditor, selling their current home first, or valuing the house below the purchase price. In other words, you can easily withdraw from a deal based on a contingency and keep your earnest money deposit.

Let’s imagine a house inspection report reveals pricey issues like a leaky roof or foundation fissures. You can back out of the deal if the seller refuses to correct the problem or offer closing cost credits if you have a property inspection contingency in place. Another key safety is the funding contingency plan. If your lender fails to approve your loan, it allows you a way out.

Pay particular attention to the agreement’s contingency timelines. For example, after assigning the contract, you may be expected to perform a house inspection within 7 to 14 days. 

A financing contingency may have to be fulfilled within 30 days to secure final loan approval. If you require additional time to accomplish a contingency duty, your realtor will need to file a contract modification with the seller for approval.

Withdrawing an offer on buying a house without a contingency

Matters could get complicated now. You might risk losing your earnest money if you withdraw from an agreement with no contingency clause. Because you invest that money down to guarantee that you’ll stick to the deal, if you back out for any reason not specified in the contract, the seller is lawfully allowed not to return your money.

You not only face the possibility of losing your money, but the seller may also take legal action against you. You might even be sued for “particular performance.”


Buying a house is a significant financial investment that should not be undertaken lightly. If you must withdraw an accepted offer, tell the vendor right away. Your real estate agent can assist you in explaining in writing why you wish to back out to the seller.

Thus, you should work closely with your agent. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to talk to a real estate lawyer about your options and what to expect if mediation fails.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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