I am purchasing a house, and apparently the seller owes more on it than what he listed it for. His realtor is now asking me if I can come up with 4000 dollars to be able to close. Is this legal? If I don't come up with this money (that is technically not my responsibility) will the deal really fall through?

  • 4
    you could wait for the bank to repossess it and buy it at accurate market price at that point in time.
    – CQM
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 20:56
  • 13
    Do not discount the possibility you're being lied to.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 0:09
  • 7
    So the seller has listed their house for say $360k, and you met their offer (as opposed to offering less, not that it should matter), and they accepted your offer, but are now asking for an extra $4k? Or are you still negotiating (they asked $360k, you offered $350k, and they're saying they'd really prefer $354k to cover expenses)?
    – Tas
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 0:12
  • 8
    This depends entirely on what phase of the purchase you are in (and what country you're in). If they've accepted an offer from you then, in most advanced countries, you have a legally binding agreement at whatever terms you've both agreed to. If you've not yet had an offer accepted, then they can ask anything they want, or not sell the house at all.
    – J...
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 0:32
  • 4
    @Lawrence's query is very pertinent. Although the existing mortgage was taken out by the seller, as the purchaser you need to be aware that the mortgage is a lien on the property - it is not a personal loan to the seller. If the seller does not pay off the entire balance of their loan the sellers bank still has an interest in the property for the unpaid balance and can foreclose on you, the purchaser, to get their money out of the property, which is what the bank has an interest in. Given the oddities here, get a lawyer, proceed with extreme caution, and be prepared to abandon the deal. Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 17:09

2 Answers 2


It is certainly legal to ask you, but you are of course not required to 'donate' another 4000 - that is your choice.
If the deal falls through because of these 4000, it is the seller's fault, and you could sue him for your damages - whatever you invested/paid to get into this closing. Probably not much, but I wouldn't know. Also, chances are that if he is underwater with his home mortgage, he doesn't have the money to pay you even if you win in court, so you'd end up getting only a worthless sheet of paper.

The deal should not fall through for 4000, though. Normally his bank will accept the deal, and he will end up owing those 4000 to his bank still. The amount is probably small compared to the complete mortgage, and the bank would prefer to get the big chunk now and run after the 4000, instead of potentially getting less or nothing later.
So basically, the seller is just trying to sucker you into covering his 4000-problem.

  • 4
    This does assume that the agreement to purchase has reached the binding stage. Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 22:02
  • 5
    Even if it hasn't, the OP is under no obligation to raise his offer to cover the seller's unexpected expense. The amount the seller still owes does not determine the market value of the house.
    – chepner
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 23:08
  • 4
    If I was a bank and I could sell a house with an underwater mortgage and only lose 4k on the remaining balance, I'd probably jump at the deal. Chances are the longer it takes to sell, the more money I'll lose on it.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 0:09
  • 1
    @chepner: But (if a binding agreement hasn't been signed) the seller is under no obligation (AFAIK, but I'm not a lawyer) to actually sell for the listed price. Bidding wars aren't unknown in hot markets. Indeed, I had this happen when I bought my current house: listed for $X, I made an offer for that, the seller came back wanting another $5K. (Which I agreed to, and still think I got a bargain :-))
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 4:23
  • Banks don't like to lose money. Selling the house as a short sale would require the bank's approval, which would require additional paperwork and extra time. It could take months. During that time, the market price of the house could go up or down. (I'm not saying that OP should pay the $4k, I'm just saying that the deal very well could fall through if nobody comes up with the $4k).
    – stannius
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 16:57

it is legal frm them to ask. As this point you have a right to walk away and sue them for their time spend because of false advertising (see, they want MORE than their listing - the fees are THEIR problem, so essentially they lied with the listing). There is a fine line between negotiations and fraud and if you make someone else expense energy and time and money because of giving false information you are liable.

Generally this is a liar style negotiation. They say "we list for X" but then they keep up adding other things to the price to ramp the price higher. How high their mortgage is does not matter. They could have waaaay overpaid on the house - so what, their problem. Obviously the ank will not release the house, so they need to pony up the money now. Well, there are hopefully other houses around, or you basically decide to pay a higher price. 4000USD does not sound like a big change (depending on the house) so just ponying up the money may be worth it -but it is YOUR decision, not theirs. You have no legal obligation to pay more.

  • 1
    Your realtor should be able to answer this for you. You should have either a lawyer or a realtor for these questions. I think all the answers here are somewhat correct, but only professional with access to your paperwork is qualified to give you an opinion.
    – Gary
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 16:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .