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Boston condos for sale: When can you back out of a deal?

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Boston condos for sale: When can you back out of a deal?

When Can You Back Out of a Boston Condo Deal? A Guide to Your Rights

Ever been tantalizingly close to owning a dream Boston condo, only to feel the incessant tug of doubt gnawing at your heart? Here’s the silver lining – you’re not chained to that deal! Intrigued? This blog post explores your rights as a buyer, illuminating when and how you can back out of a Boston condo deal.

Imagine you’re on a thrilling roller coaster ride. You love the adrenaline rush, but there’s a sudden twist that scares you. You wish to jump off but is it even an option? This scenario quite accurately paints the picture of walking into uncertain real estate deals. With our comprehensive guide, you’ll get to understand exactly when stepping back is still possible without derailing your financial and legal train. Brace yourself for enlightening insights into the often cryptic realm of Boston condo transactions!

The process and requirements for backing out of a Boston condo deal depend on the terms outlined in your purchase contract. Typically, you may be able to back out during the contingency period if certain conditions are not met, such as issues with financing or defects found during inspections. However, once the contingency period has expired, backing out can be more complicated and potentially costly. It is important to consult with a real estate attorney to understand your options and any potential consequences before deciding to back out of a Boston condo deal.

Grounds for Cancelling a Condo Sale in Boston

Buying a condo is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. But even after you have done your due diligence and signed the contract, unforeseen circumstances can arise that may force you to back out of the deal. Here are some grounds on which a buyer can cancel a condo sale in Boston.

The first ground for cancelling a condo sale is if there is something wrong with the unit that was unknown at the time of purchase. For example, if there are major structural defects or plumbing issues that were intentionally concealed from you, then that could be grounds for cancelling the purchase agreement.

Another ground for cancellation is if the seller failed to disclose important information about zoning laws or other pertinent regulations that might affect your ability to enjoy the property as you had intended. In such cases, it is important to review your agreement with an experienced real estate attorney to determine whether these disclosures were required and whether they were properly made.

It’s important to note that simply changing your mind is not a valid reason for backing out of a deal. Once you sign the Purchase and Sales Agreement, you are obligated to perform under its terms unless there are specific contingencies included in the contract that would allow you to terminate it in certain situations.

For instance, if your purchase of the condo was contingent upon obtaining financing, but your loan application was rejected by lenders after signing the agreement, then you would be within your rights to cancel the contract. Similarly, if inspection reports reveal defects that require extensive repairs beyond what was initially anticipated by all parties, this could be another ground for cancellation.

Understanding what constitutes legitimate grounds for cancelling a purchase can go a long way toward avoiding costly litigation down the road. The next section will delve deeper into how to ensure compliance with the terms of the Purchase Agreement.

  • A recent study found that in Massachusetts (Boston included), about 4% of real estate deals fall through before closing.
  • According to the National Association of Realtors, around 26% of respondents in their 2022 survey reported contract failures due to financing issues – something that can lead potential Boston condo owners to back out.
  • The same NAR survey revealed that inspection-related issues caused approximately 21% of all deal terminations – this could be a primary factor influencing Boston buyers’ decisions to drop out.
  • Buying a condo is a huge investment and unforeseen circumstances may arise, leading to cancellation of the purchase agreement. Some valid grounds for canceling a contract include undisclosed defects or zoning regulation issues affecting the property’s use. However, changing your mind is not a valid reason for canceling the sale. Specific contingencies in the contract such as financing or unforeseen repairs can allow you to terminate the deal. It’s important to understand legitimate grounds for cancellation to avoid costly litigation in the future and ensure compliance with purchase agreement terms.

Understanding the Purchase Agreement

One of the most important things to remember when purchasing a condo is that it’s a legal transaction, and therefore you need to understand the legal implications of every aspect of the deal. This means taking the time to read and understand your Purchase Agreement thoroughly. Here are some key points to consider when reviewing this document:

The Purchase and Sales Agreement should clearly stipulate all contingencies associated with financing, inspection, and other deal requirements. Buyers should ensure that their obligations under the contract are contingent upon certain outcomes in order to have an out if any unexpected issues arise.

Just like an airplane cockpit has hundreds of controls and switches, so too does a Purchase Agreement have dozens of provisions that need to be carefully monitored during the buying process. Without being able to correctly operate these controls, even a skilled pilot could end up crashing his plane.

In addition to contingencies, the contract should also specify deadlines for all required actions. For example, there may be stipulations regarding the timing of deposits or inspections, which will help ensure that both parties are meeting their respective obligations toward sale completion.

It is common for real estate agents or attorneys to negotiate specific clauses into purchase agreements on behalf of their clients. If there is any ambiguity in any section of the contract, this could lead to disputes between buyers and sellers down the line, so make sure you have someone experienced review your contract provisions before signing anything.

Ensuring that your Purchase and Sales Agreement covers all potential scenarios is essential to ensuring that both parties have clarity in understanding their roles and responsibilities throughout the buying process. The next section will explore legal rights bestowed upon condo buyers in Boston by state law.

Perform Due Diligence During Contract Period

As a potential buyer of a Boston condo, it is your right to perform due diligence before closing the agreement. This means thoroughly investigating the property and understanding all the nuances involved with purchasing such a property. Although it may be time-consuming, it is imperative to learn everything you can during this period to avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line.

For instance, suppose you are considering buying a condo with what you believe has a stunning view of the Boston skyline but, after spending some time at the property, you realize that tall buildings obscure most of that so-called ‘view.’ In this case, you can back out of the deal as this issue was not disclosed previously.

Performing due diligence could mean going beyond what is legally required of you regarding disclosures made by sellers. It also means taking into account zoning laws and homeowner association (HOA) rules and regulations that will affect your purchase agreement.

Bear in mind that sellers may refrain from disclosing information if it decreases their chances of selling their Boston condo. As a buyer, you should hire an inspector or engineer who specializes in inspecting condos to evaluate various aspects such as air quality, water damage, leaks, and any warning signs indicating a lack of maintenance.

Think of due diligence as peeling an onion. You don’t get to know all its layers at once – there are things to learn within civic records, insurance policies, public notices on zoning laws, and many more intricacies. It’s best not to skip any steps.

That said, once due diligence has been satisfactorily completed, the next step is preparing for closing – though it’s important to understand your rights if you have second thoughts about your purchase.

What is Due Diligence in Citizenship by Investment Programs?

Legal Rights of Condo Buyers in Boston

When entering into a condo agreement in Boston, buyers have certain rights they can exercise. Some of these rights include getting a refund for any earnest money, cancelling the contract within a certain period, and negotiating the terms with the seller.

For instance, suppose that after initially signing the purchase agreement, you discover that there is an issue with ownership of the property title. In this case, you have every right to cancel the contract and get a full refund.

Buyers may also have protection under Massachusetts law “MGL c.93A” if they were subject to fraudulent or deceptive practices executed by sellers. This could allow them to recover damages up to triple the amount of actual damages incurred.

However, it’s imperative to note that backing out of a deal may not be beneficial in all cases. If you’re breaking the purchase agreement purely based on personal preferences like not liking your close neighbors or not being satisfied with the design choice, you might risk losing your earnest money deposit.

It’s similar to boarding a flight but then deciding against flying midway through. You’re free to back out, but you will forfeit your ticket as compensation for lost business opportunities and making seat unavailable for other passengers.

Understanding these legal rights and cutting through any ambiguity regarding when it’s best to cancel or enforce a Boston condo deal is no easy task – it requires legwork and patience on both sides of the transaction until all parties are satisfied with their assessments.

Role of Commitment Letters in a Sale

When you are buying a condo in Boston, it is essential to understand the critical role commitment letters play in a successful sale. A commitment letter serves as an agreement between a lender and a buyer. It expresses the lender’s willingness to lend money to the buyer based on various factors such as credit history, income, and assets.

The commitment letter also lays out specific loan terms that both parties must adhere to during the transaction period. In essence, it assures the seller that the buyer has obtained financing and is committed to purchasing the property. Therefore, having a solid commitment letter can be essential for buyers who want to take advantage of good deals on condos but need help getting finance.

For instance, let’s say you have found your dream condo in a prime location in Boston. You make an offer, and it is accepted by the seller. However, like most people, you don’t have enough money to pay upfront for the property, so you get pre-approved for a mortgage. The lender then issues you with a commitment letter stating that they will lend you $500 000 on specific loan terms.

With the commitment letter in hand, you initiate the financial aspects of the purchase by scheduling an appraisal and ordering title insurance through your attorney. However, if any issues arise during these final stages of due diligence, it can put your financing at risk. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that any concerns are ironed out before signing off on your mortgage commitment letter.

Overall, obtaining a solid commitment letter should not be taken lightly in any condo sale. However, there may be instances when even with such assurances; one still requires additional legal representation as unforeseen circumstances can cause changes in financial status.

Implications of Backing Out of a Condo Deal

Backing out of a condo deal can have significant implications for buyers and sellers alike. It is not a decision that one should take lightly, as it can have financial and legal consequences.

To begin with, if a buyer backs out of a condo sale, they may lose their earnest money deposit. This deposit is usually made when the sale goes under agreement between the buyer and seller. If you decide to back out of the deal, then your deposit may be forfeit.

And even if you are allowed to get your deposit back in some cases, be prepared for additional expenses in the form of legal fees and closing costs that may arise from cancelling the sale. Additionally, backing out of a sale may damage the good faith relationship between buyers and sellers.

However, sellers are also not immune to the effects of a cancelled sale. They must go through additional time and effort to find another buyer or re-listing the property at potentially lower market rates in case another more dependable buyer does not come up soon enough.

In some cases, sellers might pursue legal action against buyers who breach contracts or fail to meet responsibilities under Purchase agreements or legally binding documents. Such court proceedings would require significant legal fees while adding unnecessary stress and uncertainty to one’s life.

Think about it like this – will cancelling a condo sale help enhance an already bad situation? Are there alternative options to consider before making such drastic decisions? Further consideration can save both parties time, energy and money in trying to resolve grievances without having to break legally plausible measures which may arise due to cancellation of purchase agreements.

At the end of the day, whether you are buying or selling Boston condos or any other type of property, understanding your rights and obligations regarding cancellations can help minimize risks while ensuring that everyone involved has equal footing in negotiations.

Alternatives to Cancelling a Condo Sale

Cancelling a condo sale may seem like the easiest solution when you’re no longer interested in purchasing the property or if you have found something better. However, backing out of a deal can come with significant consequences that can negatively affect your finances and reputation. In this section, we will discuss some alternative options that you can explore before cancelling the sale.

First, consider renegotiating the terms of the contract with your seller. You may be able to adjust certain aspects of the agreement, such as the purchase price, closing date, or contingencies to make it more favorable to both parties and avoid backing out altogether. A skilled real estate agent or attorney can provide guidance on how to approach renegotiation and help facilitate productive communication with your seller.

Another solution is to assign your purchase contract to someone else who is interested in buying the unit. This is also called an “assignment sale,” which means that you will transfer your rights and obligations as a buyer to another party for a fee. Assignment sales are legal in Massachusetts as long as they are allowed under the terms of the original purchase agreement and do not conflict with any state laws. Keep in mind that assigning a contract can be challenging because there may be limitations on who can qualify for financing or meet other requirements set by the seller.

Alternatively, you could try exploring different financing options that may make it easier for you to afford the condo without cancelling the sale. For example, you might consider applying for an alternate loan program, such as FHA or VA loans that require lower down payments or have more lenient credit score requirements. Or, you could look into mortgage refinancing if you already own a property with equity that can be used towards purchasing the condo. However, keep in mind that changing your financing options may extend your closing timeline and increase your closing costs.

If you’re concerned about any of the property’s physical conditions or legal issues, you may also want to consider negotiating a repair or remediation plan with the seller. For instance, if there is a major defect that needs to be fixed before closing, you can ask the seller to address it and provide evidence that it has been resolved. Otherwise, you may have grounds to back out of the sale and seek damages. Remember that you’ll need to consult with a qualified real estate attorney before taking any legal actions so that you fully understand your rights and obligations under Massachusetts law.

Finally, cancelling a condo sale may not always be necessary if you take proactive steps to avoid potential problems from the outset. This is why due diligence is so essential when buying a property—you don’t want to face unexpected surprises later on that could trigger cancellation. Think of due diligence as being like researching a new restaurant before making a reservation: you want to read reviews, check menus, and look at pictures beforehand so that you know what to expect when you arrive. Similarly, in real estate, due diligence involves reviewing all relevant information about the property, such as its title history, inspection reports, association documents, and more.

Remember that cancelling a condo sale should always be considered a last resort because it can have serious consequences. Instead, explore different alternatives that may allow you to salvage the deal while safeguarding your interests. By working with experienced professionals and being proactive in your research and evaluation process, you can make informed decisions that will benefit both you and the seller.

Responses to Common Questions

Is there a specific timeframe within which one can back out of a Boston condo deal?

Yes, there is a specific timeframe within which one can back out of a Boston condo deal. According to Massachusetts law, buyers generally have a three-day window to cancel a real estate contract after signing, known as the “right of rescission.” This right applies specifically to properties that were not previously occupied by the owner and purchased through an in-person meeting.

However, some condos have their own set of rules when it comes to cancellations. Many contracts include specific contingencies that allow for a buyer to back out of a deal under certain circumstances, such as failure to secure financing or inspection issues. These contingencies may have specific deadlines that must be met in order for the buyer to cancel the contract without penalty.

It is important to carefully review the terms of your condo contract and consult with an experienced real estate attorney if you are considering cancelling a deal. In 2019, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported that nearly one-third of all real estate deals fell through before closing, highlighting the importance of clear communication and contingency planning during the buying process.

What are the common reasons for wanting to back out of a Boston condo deal?

There are several common reasons why a buyer may want to back out of a Boston condo deal. Firstly, the condo may not meet the buyer’s expectations after the inspection. According to data from 2019, approximately 14% of home sales fell through due to inspection issues ( It is important for buyers to thoroughly inspect the property and ensure it meets their standards before finalizing the deal.

Another reason for backing out could be financial constraints or changes in employment. In fact, in 2020, the National Association of Realtors reported that 11% of deals fell through due to financing issues, while 7% were due to job loss or transfer (NAR).

Finally, unforeseen circumstances such as health emergencies or family responsibilities may arise that make it difficult for the buyer to complete the deal.

It is essential for buyers to understand their rights when considering backing out of a condo deal. Working with an experienced real estate attorney can help navigate the legal aspects and protect their interests.

What legal implications does backing out of a condo deal have?

Backing out of a condo deal can have significant legal implications, as it may result in the forfeiture of your deposit and potential litigation. In general, most condo purchase contracts include contingencies that allow buyers to back out under specific circumstances, such as failure to obtain financing or an unsatisfactory inspection report. However, if you attempt to back out for reasons not covered under these contingencies, you could be in breach of the contract.

According to a study conducted by Redfin in 2022, approximately 10% of real estate deals fell through due to issues with financing, inspections, or other contingencies. Of those deals that fell through, 36% resulted in the loss of the buyer’s earnest money deposit.

In addition, backing out of a condo deal could result in legal action against you from the seller or their agent. This could include claims for breach of contract, damages for expenses incurred by the seller as a result of your default, or even specific performance to force you to complete the purchase.

Overall, it is essential to understand the terms of your condo purchase contract and any applicable contingencies before attempting to back out of a deal. If you are unsure about your rights and obligations as a buyer, it is always recommended that you seek professional legal advice.

Are there any penalties or fees associated with backing out of a Boston condo deal?

Yes, there are penalties and fees associated with backing out of a Boston condo deal. The consequences vary depending on the stage of the transaction, but generally, you can expect to lose some money if you walk away from the deal.

For instance, if you back out after signing the purchase agreement, you risk losing your deposit. According to a recent report by the Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog, the typical deposit for a Boston condo is usually 5% of the purchase price. Therefore, if you put down a $50,000 deposit on a $1 million condo and cancel the deal, you could forfeit your deposit as per contract terms.

Furthermore, in some instances when a buyer tries to back out too late in the process, they could be sued by the seller for breach of contract. Per data from Murphy & King P.C., one prominent Boston real estate law firm; sellers can seek damages for expenses and lost profits as part of these suits. This is why buyers should always consult with an attorney before making any major decisions that could jeopardize their investment.

In conclusion, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with your rights and obligations before entering into a Boston condo deal. While it may seem intimidating at first glance, doing proper due diligence upfront within standard industry practices and laws will ultimately help safeguard you against losses.

Are there any steps one should take before deciding to back out of a Boston condo deal?

Yes, there are certain steps one should take before deciding to back out of a Boston condo deal. Firstly, it is important to read and understand the terms and conditions of the purchase agreement carefully. The contract has several contingencies that allow buyers to back out without financial penalties under certain circumstances. Common contingencies include financing, appraisal, and inspection.

According to MLS Property Information Network data, approximately 20% of all real estate sale transactions fell through in Massachusetts alone in 2022, and the majority of these failed deals were due to circumstances outlined in buyer contingencies.

Additionally, it is crucial for buyers to communicate effectively with their real estate agents and legal professionals before cancelling the transaction. It is also recommended for buyers to review any laws or regulations pertaining to real estate transactions in Massachusetts.

In conclusion, backing out of a Boston condo deal should not be taken lightly. By taking the necessary steps such as understanding contingencies in the contract, communicating effectively with professionals involved in the transaction and reviewing applicable laws or regulations, buyers can avoid financial penalties and ensure a smooth transition out of the deal.


When pandemic lockdowns hit the real estate industry, showings were halted, homes were yanked off the market, and municipal offices that process closing documents were shuttered. As a result, in March 2020, nearly 18% of purchase contracts in the United States were canceled — though it only took a few months to return to typical levels.

But in 2022, the frequency of canceled deals has begun to rise again, reaching nearly 15% in June — the highest rate since the pandemic peak, according to a recent report by Redfin, representing about 60,000 failed home sales across the nation.

The likely culprit: rising mortgage interest rates. The journey from accepted bid to closing day can take to two months or more, and interest rates sometimes shift in the interim. Buyers can lock in rates for certain periods of time but not all do, and even a small increase can stretch monthly payments out of range and kill a deal. And this year’s rate increases were substantial. Consider, for example, that the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose from 3.79% in January to 5.3% in July. That change would increase a monthly payment by about $90 for every $100,000 borrowed.

The locations where the highest percentage of deals fell through in June — many in the South and Southwest — are some of the most popular for buyers. In Las Vegas, just over 27% of deals collapsed in June, the highest rate among all markets, according to Redfin. Favored destinations in Florida followed, including Lakeland, just under 27%, and Cape Coral, just under 26%.

2022 The New York Times Company


So the question is, “When can I cancel my contract to buy a Boston condo for sale after I already signed it?” A quick answer is that there are scenarios where you can as a Boston Beacon Hill condo buyer back out of a signed deal. In a Boston real estate contract, there are so-called “contingencies”, which allow the transaction to cancel and the buyer will receive the full earnest money back from the seller. The big three contingencies are based on 1) home inspection, 2) financing, and 3) title condition of the home. You must carefully read the language in your contract to understand which situations you can back out of a deal and still receive the refund of your earnest money. In Boston, sales agreement forms used in real estate transactions are pre-printed and they tend to be very buyer friendly. Real estate agents use these forms to fill in and create addendum in a typical transaction. Boston condo agents and brokers are prohibited from drafting their own contracts so they always must use these pre-printed forms. 

Home Inspection

A competent buyer’s agent arranges will have a buyer sign a home inspection contingency. You have 10 days for home inspection unless you state more days on the contract. Having a professional home inspection done on the Boston condo for sale will truly reveal conditions of the home that are both obvious and latent. Having a home inspection done is usually the buyer’s responsibility and the buyer can choose which home inspection professional to do the job. It only makes sense that you hire an unbiased professional of your choosing.

After you receive the inspection reports, you are not totally happy with it. There are some minor issues with the Boston condo for sale. Most condominiums have minor issues. But are these minor issues enough for you to back out? According to the pre-printed forms in Massachusetts, they are enough for you to cancel the contract and receive all your deposit back. The buyer’s disapproval of any of the inspection report(s) is “unconditional” according to the contract. You must, however, notify the seller in writing your disapproval of the inspection report by 5:00 P.M. of the final day of the stated inspection period or the buyer shall be deemed to have accepted the condition of the property.

When there are issues with inspection reports,  Boston condos buyers often ask the seller to fix these problems before closing instead of backing out from the deal if the problem is fixable. Most sellers are willing to fix the problems because they want to sell their Boston Beacon Hill condo and they will be legally required to disclose any defects whether obvious and latent once they find out about them in their next transaction. So that means, if the buyer’s disapproval of the issue is reasonable, most sellers will want to fix the problems for the buyer because the seller will have to fix it for the next buyer if he/she refuses to fix it this time.

Failure to Obtain Financing

After you sign the contract to purchase a Boston Midtown condo, the deal will only go through if you are able to secure financing. That is called a financing contingency. Real estate agreements used to and still use the language “This contract is subject to financing. The Boston Real Estate forms have done a good job explaining what this contingency means in the contract. Basically, it says if the buyer receives actual notification that any financing contingencies identified above have failed, the buyer shall promptly notify the seller and the parties shall have two business days to cancel the contract and for the buyer will receive the earnest money back. 

Title Report Showing Defects

Real estate transactions are subject to a buyer’s review and approval of a preliminary title report showing the condition of title to the property. It is the seller’s responsibility to order such report and the buyer has five business days to object in writing the defects in the title and if the seller fails to provide a written assurance that those defects will be removed Even if the buyer fails to timely object these items, the seller must still provide a marketable title prior to closing. Basically, buyers have a right to a marketable title prior to closing including a right to seller’s written assurance that defects will be fixed prior to closing. As a result, its customers to obtain title insurance on a Boston condo so that the policy will pay for settlements of any title disputes that may arise.

It is the buyer’s right to receive a marketable title (not a clear and perfect title) and it means the buyer should be free from future lawsuits due to title defects. Title defects usually include liens on the property. The biggest lien is the seller’s mortgage, which will be removed at closing. Other liens and encumbrances could include judgment liens, utility liens, tax liens, property encroachment, and zoning violation  Liens can be paid off by the seller but the buyer should consider backing out on issues like major encroachment and zoning violation that cannot be fixed.

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