What Happens if You are in the Middle of Buying Real Estate and the Seller Dies?

Is a Real Estate Contract Binding on an Executor?

Just because you enter into a contract to either buy or sell real estate does
not mean the deal will go through. There are many reasons why a real
estate closing may not happen. For instance, the seller may get
“sellers remorse”, or the buyers do not qualify for loans. All of these
things can be expected when entering into a residential real estate contract.
But, what happens when the seller dies in the middle of a contract and
before closing? There are certain remedies, even in the case,
of death that you, as a buyer, can utilize when a
contract is not fully executed.

One remedy available to a buyer is “specific performance”.
A court can order specific performance where the seller or an
estate is forced to carry out the terms of the contract instead of
issuing a judgment for money as the remedy. Specific performance
is used when there is a breach of contract, such as a death, and you
as the buyer want to go through with the purchase rather than receiving
a refund of your deposit monies. This type of remedy is very common
when dealing with real estate because every piece of real estate is
truly unique. As a result, money as a remedy is not always sufficient
when dealing with real estate. Therefore, specific performance is an option
to consider and to discuss with legal counsel when there is a breach of
contract regarding real estate due to the death of the seller.

And, resorting to court proceedings to compel specific performance
is often not necessary once the executor understands that you still
want the house AND that the contract still obligates the estate when
property drafted.

David M. Frees, III, JD
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David M. Frees, III
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Attorney, Speaker and Author