Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Search for legal issues For help near (city, ZIP code or county)
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location

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

Rejecting an offer is entirely legal as long as you do it for the right reasons. There are many reasons that are legally acceptable, including low offers and concerns about the buyer's financial position. But sellers cannot discriminate against individuals protected under state and federal law. For example, you can't refuse to sell a home to someone simply because they have kids or are of a different race from you.

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:

1. The offer wasn't high enough

You certainly don't want to take a loss on your property if you can avoid it. A home seller can always reject an offer that they don't think reflects the value of their house.

2. You're not sure the home 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 property owners from accepting a better offer.

3. 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 legal action.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination. This means a seller can't consider a 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 prospective buyer 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.

Legally Refusing to Sell a Home to a Buyer: Additional Resources

When selling your home, you likely have many questions and concerns. And you want to do everything by the book. If you would like to do additional research after reading this article, please see the following links below to learn more. Remember, it is always best to seek the legal advice of a local real estate attorney if you have questions about rejecting an offer.

Selling Your Home? Get Help From an Attorney

One of the first professionals you'll contact before selling your home is a real estate agent — and for a good reason. Agents understand the market, know how to prep your home for sale, and generally will help streamline the process.

But sometimes you really need to speak with an attorney, such as in the case where you would like to refuse to sell to a homeowner (or a homeowner refuses to sell to you). Talk to a local real estate attorney today.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help guide you through the process of selling your home.

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution

Find a Lawyer

More Options