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What to do when a buyer voids a contract?

What to do when a buyer voids a contract?


It’s not an exciting day when the buyer changes his or her mind. It’s definitely part of the risk of selling a home and getting under contract that a buyer may decide for any reason to want out of a contract. As a seller working with a skilled listing agent, one can do a lot prior to going on the market, while accepting contracts and during the contract to close phase to help avoid a buyer backing out of a contract.

Save money. Have a strategy.

Save money. Have a strategy.

Even so, sometimes buyers do. This could be for a reason they find in a home inspection, for an unexpected health or family reason, loss of a job or any number of reasons. They might state their reason and ask out or they might void the contract during the home contingency phase, for example (As a side note, this is one reason to have a strategy to eliminate contingencies being in the contract in the first place. Like doing your own pre-listing inspection and making corrections, and then advising the buyer that this has been done.).

When the buyer wants out, and can do so contracturally, or you as a seller simply agree to let them out of the contract, what then?
Some options:
1) Put your home back on the market immediately with no changes whatsoever to the home or listing information available to the agents and the public.
2) Put your home back on the market after strategizing, having learned from one buyer / one part of a possible sale, making adjustments to the information.
3) Put back on the market after strategizing, having learned from one buyer / one part of a possible sale, making adjustments to the home itself and the information.

My experience is the 3rd option is usually the best approach.

First, without exception, it is always important to assess where the market has changed since the home went on the market and since the contract was ratified. Markets are always moving in one direction or the other, and can be very local (I refer to it as hyper-local.), very specific to the neighborhood, even. Take a strong look at “What is the market of the moment?” In order to be in sync, timely, with decision makings in formulating a strategy.

Selling Your Home Without Having It Returned to You

Selling Your Home Without Having It Returned to You

Then, if due to a home inspection, what was the reason for the back out? Did the buyers say they were anxious or unhappy about any items on it? If so, it would it behoove you as a seller to listen to what the buyers found and said about it, make corrections if it makes sense, and note any big ticket items as “replaced, new or improved” to buyers?

Another reason the buyer might back out is for a more desirable home down the street that has come on the market since the buyer went under contract with you. If so, would it be a great idea to take a very strong look at that home and how it compares to yours? What about it is more likable to buyers – price, condition, exact location? You may want to or need to adjust your pricing strategy if that home or any others help you to see the market of the moment in a clearer sense.

I hope this was helpful. With a great strategy going into selling a home – choosing an experienced, skilled listing agent, completely preparing your home for sale, having a smart pricing strategy, and creatively and strongly marketing your property, you will be a long way to a hedge against a buyer wanting to void a contract. An once of prevention…. “an investment of $100 could save you $1,000.”


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Arlington Sales Statistics For March

What a market in Arlington! It continues to be an incredibly strong seller’s market. Great for our sellers. For our buyers, tough. Our recommendation is to get a great Buyer Representative, if you have not signed a BUYER REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT with one yet.

March sales in all categories of homes totaled 224 units. After taking out the two lowest and two lowest priced homes, which were substantially less and more than any other homes, so would have skewed the numbers, here are the stats for March’s sales in Arlington on 220 units: Read the rest of this entry »



You may have heard that the US real estate market, in general, has become a “seller’s market” recently, with the DC area, INCLUDING ARLINGTON, VA, right at the top. There are fewer houses on the market which results in multiple offers, escalation clauses and competitive bidding. Great news for sellers, but what about if you are a buyer? Here are some tips for being a savvy buyer in today’s market:

1. Put down a large down payment. ARLINGTON sellers often like to see that. It may give them a feeling of comfort. Their perception is that you can afford the house and that a bank will approve you. In order to do this, you should plan ahead, getting your financing in order in advance of your home search. That way you can move quickly when you’re ready to make an offer.

2. Pick a great lender. Make sure you’ve selected one who responds to your calls and emails promptly. That will be a good indicator that he or she will be ready to move quickly when the time comes to make your offer.

3. Get a top notch agent who specializes in the Arlington market. Specialization generally means more focus on and  more knowledge of an area. Then, be prepared to make an offer on a home that you like. You’ll want to see houses the same day they are first listed. This will require you to rely on the expertise of your agent. He or she has access to homes often immediately when they come on the market and can keep you posted on houses you may be interested in, if you cannot see them right away. If your agent is working diligently in their market and are well-connected in the real estate community and in their neighborhoods of speciality, they may even know about homes coming on the market – before they come on!

4. Be flexible. This means being especially flexible with contingencies. Offering shorter contingencies like a home inspection, appraisal and financing can entice sellers to choose your contract over another in a competitive situation, if timing is important to them.

As always, I’m here and ready to help you buy, or list and sell, your home. We are specialists in Arlington, and work in the rest of VA, MD and DC as well, if your search is taking you elsewhere. money

Ken Courtade

The Yes I Ken! Team


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Q: I am selling my house in Arlington and my Realtor has suggested that he hold an Open House. I’m a little reluctant because a friend of mine told me that houses don’t usually sell as a result of an open house. Is this true?

A: An Open House is great device to market your home.

Following are five good reasons for you as the seller, to have an Open House in Arlington:

1. It brings buyers to you. It also raises your home’s visibility to a higher volume of traffic without relying on other agents to show it. It can also create bidding war by bringing in more than one interested buyer at a time.

2. You are well prepared to show your house. That way, potential buyers have an opportunity to see your house in the best light.

3. It gives you feedback from guests signing in the guestbook your Realtor has provided. That way you have a chance to change anything negative that potential buyers consistently comment on.

4. It saves you the time and inconvenience of having to schedule multiple showings of your house.

5. You will be able to gage by the number of people who attend what the level of interest in your home is.

Statistics show that when an Open House is held within the first week, a home is 13 percentage points more likely to sell than not having an open house at all, and 26 percentage pointsmore likely to sell than if an Open House is held sometime after the first week. (

So, follow the advice of your Realtor and have him or her host an Open House at your home in Arlington. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Getting it SOLD – for YOU!

Ken Courtade

The Yes I Ken! Team



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Do staged homes really sell faster?

Homeowners that I meet with to list their houses smartly ask about the usefulness, the value, in staging a home to sell.

The short answer is: Read the rest of this entry »

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