Can You Sell Your Home Twice?

Selling your home twice is a very interesting concept, isn’t it? Especially when prices are as high as they are. Imagine being able to get twice as much money as you thought you’d get.

And if you COULD sell your home twice, there might also be studies comparing sale prices of the same properties at different times of the year so you’d know when to list your home to get the highest possible price. Twice. Does this sound too good to be true? I’d say yes, but remember, I was the one who said you can’t sell your home twice when we were talking about the best time to list your home.

So is it true or not? Since it would be so nice to sell your home twice, I figured I should rack my brain and try to find a way to do it. So that’s what I did. And I came up with two situations under which a home might possibly be sold twice.

The first situation occurs when you accept two different offers from two different buyers at the same time. Not on purpose, of course. You and your Realtor know you can’t do this. Yet I’ve heard of it happening. Rarely, but it HAS happened. As I’ve said before, anything and everything’s possible in real estate. Here’s how this could happen:

On Monday you receive an offer from Buyer A and give him a sign back for $950,000 that’s open until Tuesday at 5 pm. You don’t hear back from Buyer A so you figure he’s not interested. At 2 pm on Tuesday you receive an offer from Buyer B for $1,000,000 that’s also open until 5 pm on Tuesday. You hope you’re right about Buyer A and he’s really not interested because you want to accept Buyer B’s offer. At 4:55 pm on Tuesday you still haven’t heard a word from Buyer A so you safely assume he’s forgotten about your home and you go ahead and accept Buyer B’s offer. At 5 pm Buyer A’s Realtor calls to say Buyer A accepted your sign back. Congratulations. You’ve sold your home to two buyers at the same time. It should never have happened, but it did. Now you have to call your lawyer and try to negotiate your way out of one of these deals. It might be easy if one of the buyers is very understanding. Or you may have to pay one of them some money to convince them not to sue you. It’s unlikely either of them will sue you, but it’s still a possibility. All in all, it’s better to be careful and not sell your home twice like this.

The other way you can sell your home twice isn’t pretty either and, unfortunately, is beyond your control. A few years ago my clients listed their home in February for $1,150,000. They received three offers and sold it for $1,225,000 a few days later. The deal was scheduled to close in May. A week before closing the buyers’ agent called me and said “My buyers can’t sell their home so they’ve changed their minds. Can I come pick the deposit up later?” Um, no, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. When a buyer wants to get out of a firm deal they risk losing their entire deposit, which in this case was $75,000. I suggested to my clients that they contact their lawyer and their lawyer worked out a settlement with the buyers’ lawyer – my clients kept $50,000 of the deposit and gave $25,000 back to the buyers.

This is not a fun situation for any seller. Your closing date is fast approaching. You need the money from the sale of your home to pay for your new home. You’re in the middle of packing. And now you have to relist your home and go through the stress of having it on the market again. Luckily, these clients had great attitudes. It’s not a fun situation for the Realtor either – there’s extra pressure to get the home sold on time and at a good price and you have to do the job you were hired to do twice for the same pay. Luckily, these clients’ Realtor had a great attitude, too.

We relisted their home in May for $1,225,000. The lawyer advised that we couldn’t list it for less than the original sale price because we needed to try to sell it for at least that price to try to mitigate the potential damages. There was one offer a few days after it was relisted and it sold, for the second time, for $1,210,000. This was less than the original sale price, but my clients still ended up ahead of the game because they also got to keep $50,000 of the original deposit.

Does this mean they were better off listing their home in February as opposed to May because they got a higher price in February? Maybe. Or maybe not. In February, they could choose the list price which they thought would generate the most activity and produce the highest price. In May they were forced to pick the original sale price as their list price. This price was likely too high to generate the activity and bidding war necessary to produce the highest price. (To find out why this price was too high, check out Why Is That List Price So Low?) Also, anyone looking at their home in May could see online that it had sold in February for $1,225,000 and was unlikely to want to pay more than that so the price was somewhat capped at $1,225,000. Any new buyers might also wonder if the original deal fell through because there was something wrong with the home and not be willing to pay even $1,225,000. Although this situation comes close to being helpful in terms of comparing two sales of the same home to determine the best time of year to sell, it has distinct shortcomings.

So, can you sell your home twice? Yes, but don’t expect to get paid twice and you may have to call your lawyer. Until you can think of a way to sell your home twice, which I’d love to hear, you may want to check out my post on the best time of year to sell your home if you want to maximize your price.

In the meantime, if you know anyone who is interested in learning how the market works and would like to receive the kind of help that involves honest answers, straightforward advice, no pressure and being treated like family, please let me know the best way for me to connect with them because I’d like to offer them this kind of help. And as always, don’t be shy if you have any questions or comments about this post! Thanks for reading.

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2 Responses to “Can You Sell Your Home Twice?”

  1. David Stones March 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

    Michael:…Thx again for a very fine newsletter/blog….To me, your first situation here is cut & dried. Buyer A had until 5 p.m. to accept. That means what it says: 5 o’clock in the afternoon. So the seller and his/her agent
    simply has no legal right to consider any other offers until that contracted time is passed, let alone to “accept” them. Using your example, and extrapolating the scenario, one could sell one’s house 15, 20, 25 times….Thing is, only one of the “sales” would stand up in court….

    • Michael Meltzer March 7, 2017 at 11:53 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it, David. And thank you for your comment. You’re absolutely right. It IS cut & dried and one could “sell” one’s house as many times as they’d like. I guess I was thinking small. 😉

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