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Attorney Ben Proto - The Musings of a Mad Lawyer

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Breaking a Real Estate Contract in Connecticut

Anyone who breaks a real estate contract without a legally sufficient reason for doing so runs the risk of being sued for breach of contract. However, most real estate contracts contain provisions, known as contingencies, which allow a party to terminate a real estate agreement under certain conditions. Below are some of the most common real estate contract contingencies.

  • Kick-out clause A kick-out clause permits a seller, within a specific timeframe, to accept a higher offer than the current buyer’s. If such an offer is accepted, the previous contract is terminated.

  • Appraisal requirement – A buyer can terminate a real estate agreement if the subject property’s appraisal value is lower than its asking price. 

  • Clear title – Real estate contracts typically require the seller to provide the buyer with clear title to the property. When title issues are uncovered during the title search process, the buyer can ordinarily terminate the agreement.
  • Right to review HOA guidelines – Buyers are usually given the opportunity to review all applicable HOA guidelines prior to closing. When an HOA document review uncovers issues that the buyer is unhappy with, such as high fees and burdensome restrictions, the real estate contract can be terminated.  

  • Financing requirement– Most real estate contracts permit either party to terminate an agreement if financing cannot be obtained.

  • Clear Home inspection A home inspection clause allows termination of the agreement by the buyer if unreported damage if found to the subject property.


When the failure to comply with a real estate contract isn’t based on a contingency, the non-breaching party typically has several remedies available. Common remedies include:

  • Contract Termination - Termination of the contract may be warranted in the event of a breach by either party to a real estate transaction. When both the buyer and seller agree to terminate a real estate contract, the buyer is typically permitted to recover any purchase money paid. 

  • Damages for Breach of Contract - If a party to a real estate transaction suffers financial loss due to a contract breach, an action in civil court may be filed by the aggrieved party for monetary damages. 

  • Specific Performance - If the seller won’t turn over the subject property to the buyer, it may be possible to file a civil action for specific performance. Specific performance essentially requests that the court force the seller to transfer the property in dispute to the buyer. Most courts, however, are reluctant to grant specific performance.

Whether you wish to break, enforce, draft, or review a contract for the sale of real estate, please consider contacting an attorney to discuss your situation. An experienced real estate attorney will keep you apprised of your contractual rights and duties while guiding you towards the best course of action based on your unique circumstances. Please contact us for a free consultation at (203) 307-2915.

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