9 Ways to Cancel a Purchase Contract in Arizona

When it comes to buying a home, there’s a crucial step that involves putting down a good faith deposit, also known as earnest money, once you’ve gone under contract. This deposit is typically held in a neutral escrow account, safeguarding it until the deal is finalized. However, circumstances can change, and you might find yourself wondering how to exit the contract without losing your earnest money.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore nine legitimate ways to safely exit a real estate contract and ensure you get your earnest money refunded in full. Whether you’re a prospective homebuyer or just curious about the intricacies of real estate contracts, we’ve got you covered.


Buyer Contingency Addendum: Your Safety Net

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself as a homebuyer is by utilizing the Buyer Contingency Addendum. This contingency allows you to safeguard your earnest money by making your home purchase contingent upon the sale or closing of your current home. This is especially valuable for those who can’t qualify for two mortgages simultaneously. If your current home sale falls through, and the seller agrees to sign the Buyer Contingency Addendum, you can get your earnest deposit back without penalties.


Due Diligence Period: The Inspection Window


Buyers have a critical period known as the Due Diligence Period during which they can inspect the home thoroughly. This period usually lasts for 10 days, but in today’s fast-paced market, it can be shorter or even waived. During this timeframe, you can cancel the contract for almost any reason and complete a form called the BINSR (Buyer’s Inspection Notice and Seller’s Response). Ensure your reason for cancellation relates to the property’s condition, not external factors.


Appraisal Contingency: Protecting Your Investment

The appraisal contingency can come into play when the property’s appraised value falls short of the purchase price. In such cases, the buyer has five days to notify the seller and receive a return of the earnest deposit. While this isn’t a deliberate method of cancellation, it’s a safeguard for buyers, particularly in markets where home values are rapidly rising.


SPUDs: Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement


The SPUDs, or Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement, is a document where sellers should disclose any known issues or defects with the property. Buyers have the right to cancel the contract within five days of receiving this document if they discover something alarming. It’s crucial to review SPUDs carefully for any red flags.


Loan Contingency: A Safety Net for Financing


If your loan application is denied by the bank or lender you’re working with, this serves as grounds for a refund of your earnest deposit upon contract cancellation. Loan denial can occur for various reasons, such as a job loss, interest rate changes, or new debts. Remember, buying that Ferrari while waiting for your home to close is not advisable!


Title Commitment: Uncovering Property Rights

Upon receiving the title commitment from the escrow or title company, you have up to five days to cancel the contract. This could be useful if you discover unexpected property rights, such as an easement that allows others to access your yard.


CC&Rs: HOA Rules and Restrictions


CC&Rs, or Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, are rules imposed by homeowners’ associations (HOAs). If you disagree with any HOA rule, you can use it as grounds for contract cancellation. It’s important to read through the CC&Rs to ensure you’re comfortable living under these regulations.


Insurance Claims Report: Uncovering Past Issues


The Insurance Claims Report, which the seller must provide, discloses any insurance claims made on the property in the past five years. If you find significant issues like a major water leak that caused substantial damage, you can cancel the contract.


Custom Clauses: Tailoring the Contract to Your Needs


You can add custom clauses to the purchase contract as contingencies. While some ideas, like a contract contingent upon the Phoenix Suns winning the championship, might be outlandish and challenging to get accepted, custom clauses can address specific concerns or unique situations.


Can the Seller Cancel on the Buyer?

Buyers often wonder if sellers can cancel on them after going under contract. While sellers can theoretically cancel and accept a better offer, doing so may expose them to a lawsuit and breach of contract claims. This discourages most sellers from canceling a contract once it’s in place.


In conclusion, understanding the various contingencies and provisions within a real estate contract is essential for both buyers and sellers. These safeguards ensure that if unforeseen circumstances arise, you can exit the contract without losing your earnest money. Always consult with a real estate professional or attorney for guidance on your specific situation, and remember that real estate laws can vary by location.