Market Wise Q&A: Don't Move Out Until You're Positive the House is Sold

Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News Q: We have finished moving out of our home that we are selling, only to learn that the buyers are canceling the sale. This is a total surprise to everyone involved, especially us. To make matters worse, we’ve been told we can’t retain the buyer’s deposit for damages, since they never removed all of their contingencies. We never would have rented a house and moved had we known this could happen. Our listing agents seem to be uninterested in our predicament. We want restitution for this expensive debacle. Who is to be held accountable?

A: Sellers should not move out of their home unless it is their own fully informed decision.  Some prefer to avoid the foot traffic involved in home selling.  Others can afford two residences. Clearly, a vacant house that is staged properly will sell faster and for more money than if a seller remains in the property, offsetting the cost of two homes.

Regardless, it sounds as though you would have remained at your property had you been educated on the home selling process and its pitfalls.  Talk to the managing broker of the listing office. If he or she is of no help, seek out an attorney. Make sure your consultation is with a real estate attorney rather than one with expertise in other fields.  Otherwise you’re liable to repeat a blind-leading-the-blind situation.


by Pat Kapowich, owns Kapowich Real Estate in Cupertino. E-mail questions to him at