I have a Signed Purchase and Sale Agreement for my Dream House and the Seller is Refusing to Close – What are my Rights?

You found your dream home, the seller accepted your offer and both parties executed a Purchase and Sale Agreement (“P&S”) with no contingencies for the seller – what could possibly go wrong? 

Unfortunately, all too often sellers will refuse to close on the property (reasons include the seller wanting more money in a hot real estate market or their replacement housing falling through), leaving the buyer in a bind.  Fortunately, because the P&S did not contain any contingencies for the seller, this buyer has a strong claim against the seller to force the sale of the property.

In order to force the sale of the property, the buyer will have to file a lawsuit against the seller seeking specific performance of the P&S and should seek to obtain a lis pendens on the property in accordance with Massachusetts General Law, chapter 184, section 15.  The lis pendens is recorded in the registry of deeds where the property is located and provides notice to the general public, including potential buyers and lenders, that you have a pending lawsuit against the seller and that you are asserting a “claim of a right to title” in the property.  The recording of a lis pendens is an effective tool to quickly convince the seller to sell the buyer the property because it limits the seller’s ability to try and sell the property to another buyer at a higher price.  If the seller is stubborn and refuses to sell, the buyer will have to move forward with the lawsuit and request that a judge grant specific performance of the P&S after a trial.

-By Benjamin Kafka

O’Connor, Carnathan and Mack LLC is a commercial litigation law firm located in Burlington, Massachusetts that helps companies and individuals resolve complex business disputes, insurance coverage disputes, and personal injury claims. Our legal team includes top-flight commercial litigation attorneys as well as dedicated personal injury lawyers. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as closely-held businesses and astute individuals. We believe every client deserves the finest representation possible for a fee they can afford. Accordingly, we offer our services at rational hourly rates and on a contingency fee basis, devise our strategies to fit the amount at stake, and are open to creative alternative fee arrangements as well. Our attorneys serve clients in Middlesex County and Suffolk County, as well as throughout Massachusetts and New England. Contact us to learn more.