Just like buyers who get cold feet, sellers can also feel remorse, have second thoughts about selling a home. Seller’s remorse often happens because the seller was not really motivated in the first place. Sometimes sellers think they want to sell, but realize later on that their reasons to sell weren’t very smart ones.

What is Seller’s Remorse?

Sometimes sellers want to “test” the market, to see how much a buyer will offer, to figure out if a home is priced right, then decide to take their home off the market when they realize they aren’t going to be able to get a higher price tag for their home than they paid for it. When a seller does this, realtors end up spending their time and money trying to sell a home, and aren’t returning on that investment. It is a waste of their time.

How to Prevent Seller’s Remorse

Owners can prevent seller’s remorse by thinking through the entire process and having a plan. A real estate agent can help a seller plan for the future and walk the seller through options. You should discuss your wants and needs with your agent. If the benefits of selling your home outweigh the hesitations, then you should sell. If they don’t, then don’t list your home. If a seller is worried about not being able to find another house, the seller can sell on a contingent contract. Contingent contracts give the seller a period of time to locate another home without an obligation to sell to the buyer if that home is not found.

How a Seller Can Cancel a Listing

A listing agreement is a binding contract between the seller and real estate broker. Not every listing agent nowadays binds the seller to selling the home if the seller changes his or her mind.  Exclusive right-to-sell listings are the most common and entitle the broker to a commission if a ready, willing and able buyer makes a full-price purchase offer. Sellers who get cold feet can cancel the listing but may end up owing the broker a commission if the broker performed. Do not sign a six-month listing agreement if the agent will not agree to cancel the agreement at your request. Ask about the length of the listing and if you can shorten the term.

Many real estate agents enjoy a good reputation in the community and would be willing to cancel a listing, but you should ask about it before you sign a listing. It may take time to cancel a listing as well, because only a real estate broker or manager can cancel a listing. The listing does not belong to the real estate agent. Before you fire your agent, talk to the agent, the agent’s broker and, perhaps, your real estate lawyer. Somewhere along the line, you should be able to work out a compromise agreeable to everybody.

What Happens if a Seller Gets Cold Feet at Closing?

Although there have been a few court cases that have ruled against the seller, generally the court will not make a seller sell. However, buyers often retain the right to pursue damages and sue the seller. Moreover, the brokers will have likely earned a commission and be entitled to demand that payment. See: What to Do When Seller’s Cold Feet Strikes.

1 Comment

  1. Leslie

    The best way to avoid seller’s remorse is to make sure you’re ready to sell your house. Don’t sell for frivolous reasons. Many sellers list their home on the market, and get cold feet during the closing because they didn’t really think about the gravity of the situation.


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