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Can a Homeowner Legally Refuse to Sell a Home to a Potential Buyer?

Selling a house can be stressful. There's so much to do: you have to check if market conditions are favorable, you have to make sure your house is in good repair and properly set, and then you have to hope that the right offer comes in quickly. Rejecting an offer after all this work may not be the most appealing option, but it is entirely legal as long as you do it for the right reasons.

Reasons to Refuse to Sell

In truth, there are many reasons to refuse an offer. An attorney or real estate agent will be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of any offer, but a few valid reasons for rejection are:

  • The offer wasn't high enough: You certainly don't want to take a loss on your property if you can avoid it. You can always reject an offer that you don't think reflects the value of your house.
  • You're not sure the buyer can get a loan: If the economic position of a potential buyer is questionable, the buyer may not be able to get a mortgage. Accepting an offer only to have the sale fall through before closing wastes valuable time and might prevent you from accepting a better offer.
  • You changed your mind and don't want to sell anymore: It's your house -- you can stay in it for as long as you like. Just because you put it on the market doesn't mean you're obligated to sell.

Illegal Reasons to Refuse to Sell

Even though homeowners may reject an offer if they wish, doing so for the wrong reasons could lead to a lawsuit. The Fair Housing Act prohibits a seller from considering potential buyers' race, color, sex, familial status, or national origin when deciding whether to accept or refuse an offer. In other words, you cannot reject an offer just because the person who made it is black, or practices a religion that makes you uncomfortable.

See FindLaw's Real Estate section for more Tips on How to Sell a Home

Next Steps
Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help guide you
through the process of selling your home.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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