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What to do when buyers claim prices are falling and request a reduction

Q: We have a similar situation referenced in your column on the East Bay Times and The Mercury News websites, on May 17, 2022, “How to avoid some costly legal disputes in a hot real estate market”: The homebuyers of our property are demanding a price reduction before closing escrow. We, too, have a contingent-free sale. The homebuyers claim housing prices are dropping. Not true. The buyer’s agent and our seller’s agent agree that prices in our particular Bay Area neighborhood have not fallen. These licensees claim this intolerable demand is an isolated incident and not a trend. That is the only good news. This seemingly arbitrary decision to demand a price cut leaves us with a variety of bad choices. The licensees involved are also in a state of shock. But now is not the time for inaction. Unfortunately, the homebuyers know that we are under contract to buy a home out of the area. They also indicate that they will sue for their earnest money deposit.

How likely can home sellers in our position promptly fight off such a last-minute fiasco?

A:  It depends on the immediate involvement of the supervising sales managers for the real estate firms. It’s their job to be involved. Recently, I have heard of last-minute, six-figure price cut demands by homebuyers. Conversely, this is not unlike home sellers who try to cancel when prices are rapidly escalating upward and become front page news. If the sales managers for the real estate brokerage cannot find a swift solution, hire a real estate attorney. If a seller makes a financial concession, real estate attorneys want a written agreement to cover any future claims. In other words, in exchange for money now, the home sellers receive a written agreement that, by default, guarantees that they will never hear from the homebuyers again. That’s a win for the seller. In California, homebuyers file most of the residential real estate claims. You currently have precisely the kind of homebuyer that litigates.

Make this fiasco work for you. Go back over your file with a real estate attorney and seek out any transactional deficiencies that could result in post-sale litigation. Consider yourself lucky. You now know these homebuyers are “bad customers.” Take control. Deal with them now on your terms under your real estate attorney’s guidance. Get them out of your life one way or the other. After all, you have a new home and way of life waiting.

Questions, concerns or inquiries? Realtor Pat Kapowich is a Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager and career-long consumer protection advocate. His hometown of Sunnyvale, California, is where he is based. Office Landline: 408-245-7700, [email protected] Broker# 00979413

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