What is a “Kick Out” Clause?

What is a kick out clause?A kick out clause refers to language in the contract which permits the seller, in some cases, to cancel the contract with the current buyer.  The current buyer is “kicked out” of contract.  Another expression for the same idea is a “release clause” – the seller can release the buyer under some situations.

This is a bit of a surprise to most Silicon Valley home buyers, who tend to think that they can walk away from a property during their contingency time frames, but a seller is stuck with them, no matter what.  That’s simply not true!

In the last few years, both the CAR and PRDS contract forms have been updated.  Both now include language that specifies the seller’s right to cancel the contract.  Both parties have rights and responsibilities. Failing to do what one has promised to do in the purchase agreement could potentially find that home buyer out of contract and without that home to buy.  There are many shades of gray, and few things are automatic.  If a seller is going to give a buyer the boot, there will be a “notice to perform” tendered first.

Let’s talk specifics.  When can the seller kick out or release the buyer? (more…)

Can home sellers back out of the contract or force a buyer out?

Escrow escape? Do sellers have a way out of contract?Selling a house or home is usually very challenging and emotional, even under the best of circumstances.  It’s all the worse if the folks on the other side of the transaction – the buyers, their real estate agent or both – are difficult, rude, hot headed, verbally bullying, not performing on time or otherwise making the escrow and sale more upsetting than is necessary.  What can a seller or listing agent do about it? Can the seller cancel the contract and boot the bad guys out?

If there is a seller contingency, it may not be hard to do this at all. (For example: home sale subject to seller finding replacement property – they can just not look!) But that’s rare. Most of the time, only the home buyer has contingencies.

In Silicon Valley, we have 2 different contracts in use – the CAR and PRDS.  Before we can answer the question of how to get rid of nasty buyers or agents, it’s important to know and understand the contractual agreement clearly.  So the first question is “what does the contract say?”  Often the sellers don’t have an easy way to boot obnoxious agents out of contract.  But it may be possible to catch the buyers in a default (that is, not performing) via some subtlety in the contract and that may eventually enable the sellers to cancel the contract.

Both of the purchase agreements used in Santa Clara, San Mateo and nearby counties include a list of rights and responsibilities for both sellers and buyers.  They also include time frames: buyers and sellers must do these certain things within a specified number of days (some are boilerplate and others are written in and variable). So these contractual “technicalities” may be time frames which have been ignored inadvertently.

It’s no slam dunk most of the time, though, to get rid of buyers and their real estate representatives.  Usually it will be necessary to put the other side on notice that they are out of contract and to give them a chance to get back on track.  This official notice that they are at risk of having the sale cancelled is called a “notice to perform“. (more…)