Imagine finding the perfect home. After weeks, maybe months, of searching, it’s just what you’ve been seeking. You get it under contract and have it inspected. After jumping through all the hoops for the mortgage, hiring movers, packing, and more, you’re ready to close. Then the seller decides they don’t want to sell it to you after all.

Wait, you say. They can’t do that. You would be right.

But what if they do it anyway? What options does a homebuyer have when a seller changes their mind? 

For the seller who changes their mind, there are consequences. For the would-be buyer, there are a couple of options.

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Option Fee and Proof of Delivery

The standard Texas residential real estate contract contains several options for buyers to terminate their contract for various reasons. While sellers may not like it, it makes sense that the person bringing the money has the most options.

The most popular option is the paragraph that requires the buyer to deliver an option fee for the right to terminate for any reason within a specified period of time. This time period is usually when the buyer will perform inspections. The option fee is payment for the buyer’s right to walk away from the contract. Whether or not they exercise that right doesn’t matter. The seller may cash an option fee check at any time and keep the option fee if the buyer terminates. Typically, the buyer gets credited for the option fee at closing when they do not terminate.

The option fee must be delivered to the seller or listing agent within three days after the effective date of the contract or the buyer may lose their rights under the option period. The crucial part of the option period is the DELIVERY of the option fee. Not receipt of the option fee. These are actually two different actions. Let me explain.

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When someone is buying a house, there is a deadline in which to deliver their earnest money to the title company. And they’d better not miss it. We don’t care if it’s too hot outside, they overslept, or the dog ate their homework. A deadline is a deadline.

A buyer has three days to deposit funds with the title company. If the third day is a Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday, then the last day to deliver it is moved to the following business day. The title company will sign a receipt of earnest money with both the date and time the funds are received.

What happens if a buyer doesn’t deliver the earnest money to the title company on time? The skies will open up and swallow them. Well, maybe not. But there are consequences.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Lots of folks are dying to buy or sell a home. They may be eager, desperate, impatient, or anxious. However, they’re not literally dying.

Except when they are.

Yes, it has happened that a buyer or seller dies while they have a property under contract. They could die the day after the contract is signed or as they are walking into the title company on closing day. Both of those scenarios have occurred in offices where I’ve worked and it’s awful for everyone.

But what happens to the deal?

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From the street, 6319 Velasco Avenue looks like another great Lakewood home.

Lakewood is hot. But, dearest Dirt-o-phile, you already knew that. Homes are under contract before they hit MLS in some cases, and in others, they’re sold within weeks of listing.


But sometimes you can find a deal where no one else is looking. That’s the case with 6319 Velasco from our fine friends at Rogers Healy and Associates. Maybe, on the other hand, it’s a deal because the bathrooms are problem areas. I wouldn’t be able to tell, though, because the listing for this home doesn’t have a photo of either of the two baths in this quaint, 2,056-square-foot home with three bedrooms. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine.

The listing does boast “original details,” such as a telephone nook and stained glass. Methinks the cupboards inside the “country kitchen” might need a little sprucing up, though. Unless you’re into wood paneling. The apron sink is a keeper, though!

Otherwise, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Lakewood traditional: archways, trees, and tons of charm. And the price just went down, too, to the tune of $5,100. Sounds like a steal to me!