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What to Do If Your Home Sale Falls Through

If you’ve ever sold a home, you know that fluffing pillows and scrambling to declutter before showings gets exhausting. When you finally find the right buyer for your home, you can breathe a sigh of relief! You can stop cleaning and start packing, right?

While it’s true that most contracts get all the way to the closing table, the number of contracts that went south increased dramatically last year. According to a Trulia report, the number of failed contracts doubled, jumping from 2.1% of all contracts in 2015 to 3.9% in 2016.

So what should you do if that happens to you?

We talked to Amber Gunn, one of our real estate Endorsed Local Providers in Austin, Texas, about why contracts fall through and what you can do to move forward if it happens to you.

Contract Contingencies That Can Kill Your Deal

You may be wondering how a contract can fall through at all. It’s a contract, right?

While that is true, there are still conditions that must be met before closing. In the contract, these are called contingencies, and they protect the buyer from surprises down the road.

According to Amber, contingency issues are the most common reason for a contract to come crumbling down. Here are some pitfalls that can put your home sale at risk and tips to help you bring it back from the brink:

The home inspection identifies a big-ticket repair.


This means another round of negotiation with the buyer—and the potential for more money out of your pocket. With an expert negotiator in your corner, your deal should have no trouble moving forward. You just may need to be willing to meet the buyer in the middle to address the issue.


Your home appraises for less than the sale price.


For the deal to go through, someone’s going to have to shell out more money to bridge the gap. Odds of recovery depend on how big the gap is between the appraisal value and the sale price. You and the buyer may have to split the difference.


A title search uncovers an open lien on your property.


Open liens—and any other title problems—must be cleared before you can close the deal. If the lien in question is covered under your title insurance policy, that should make it go away. If not, you’ll have to resolve or pay the lien before you can close.


Your buyer’s financing falls through.


Without financing, your buyer likely won’t have the cash to close on the home. Unless your buyer wins the lottery—or secures another lender before closing day—you can pretty much count on going back to square one to find a buyer who can afford to buy your home.


If Your Home Sale Falls Through, What Should You Do?

Sometimes you can’t recover a contract, no matter how hard you try. A failed contract is a setback, but don’t let it keep you down! You still have the same goal—to sell your home. And you can do it!

If you’ve had a home sale fall through, you may wonder how to minimize your risk this go-around. Here are some steps to take before relisting your home:

  • Get a pre-listing home inspection to prevent surprises down the road.

  • If your home sale fell apart because of an appraisal issue, work with your agent to be sure the price is right.

  • Make sure you have title insurance in place so you’ll be covered if any issues come up.

  • Request mortgage pre-approval letters with every offer so you know the buyer’s financing is solid.

Don’t forget to take another look at your marketing plan before your home hits the market again. You may need to update your strategy to attract new buyers. Maybe you first listed your home in February and now you have spring flowers and sunny skies that would give your listing photos a fresh look.

Find expert agents to help you sell your home.

“On some homes, I hire a landscape architect to spruce up curb appeal,” Amber says. “That would definitely be a reason to shoot new photos!”

Remember: Small updates can make a big difference. Amber recommends another deep clean of the whole house (including hiring a professional to clean the carpets). Keep your home smelling fresh, and make sure you have a plan for Fluffy and Fido when showings come up.

Even after a setback, you’ve got what it takes to sell your home!

Is Your Agent the Right Fit?

If your agent has communicated proactively with you throughout the process and set a game plan for moving forward, you’re probably in good hands. Even though a failed contract is frustrating, it may not be your agent’s fault at all.

However, if you’re losing trust in your agent, you may start to reconsider the relationship. The failed contract may have been the last straw in a series of letdowns you’ve experienced since you started the process. If your agent dismisses your concerns or only returns your phone calls half the time, that’s a bad sign. It may be time to kick them to the curb!  

If you’ve decided that your current agent won’t cut it, you may choose to look for a different agent once your listing contract ends. When you interview agents, here’s what to look for:

  • A track record of success selling homes in your area
  • A super-serving attitude
  • Proactive communication

If you’re looking for a rockstar agent, we can help! Our real estate Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) can help you sell your home quickly and for the best price, even after a failed contract.

Your home is your biggest investment! Don’t miss out on the expertise of a true pro.

Get in touch with an ELP in your area today!

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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