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Real estate transactions: Can an offer to buy be cancelled?

Buying a house in Alberta can be a stressful process because a lot can go wrong. Real estate transactions start when buyers put in offers to purchase, and if the sellers accept the offers, Agreements of Purchase and Sale documents will be negotiated and signed. Once that is done, it is a legally binding contract that cannot be rescinded or cancelled without difficulty -- unless the parties agree.

Certain conditions can be written into the agreement that could make it subject to a house inspection, the buyer's qualification for a mortgage and more. If any of these conditions are not met, there might be a possibility to cancel the agreement. However, pulling out of a real estate transaction after both parties have signed the agreement could leave the buyer exposed to the possibility of a lawsuit.

Exceptions exist in certain circumstances such as when the buyer fails to pay the deposit. This can cancel the agreement, but the seller will still have the option to sue. If a natural disaster like a fire or flood destroys the property, the contract will be cancelled. However, if the buyer withdraws even though both parties have complied with contractual terms, the deposit may be forfeited; moreover, the seller could sue for other financial losses sustained.

Purchasers in Alberta who have made offers on houses and signed the Agreements of Purchase and Sale but then need to pull out of the real estate transactions may have questions about the applicable laws. An experienced real estate lawyer can answer those questions. The attorney can assess the circumstances and offer advise and support regarding the most appropriate manner in which to proceed.

Source: FindLaw Canada, "How do you cancel an offer or purchase agreement for a home?", Accessed on March 3, 2017

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