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That time when the seller decided not to sell.

A case study from a real client.

Closing Time

It was a beautiful late August day, but the Sellers were divorcing and obviously hated each other. The closing was dense with hostility. Normally, Sellers don’t go to closing (their lawyer sends in the signed deed and we wire their proceeds), but, this time they were there, at the closing table. As the husband was signing the deed, his soon-to-be-wife scolded him for being such a worthless individual and, without a hint of embarrassment, chastised him for their failures. Naturally, my clients, the Buyers, were made to feel awkward, but they were excited to be moving into their new (to them) home. This happened as their kids were running around my office while one of my client’s fathers-in-law sat in my parking lot in one of 3 UHaul trucks they rented for the move from Cincinnati, where they had helped new tenants move into their old apartment. Just then, the embittered wife said: “you know what, I don’t want to sell my home” gave her husband the finger and walked out of the closing. She didn’t sign the deed.

My clients, a couple, looked at each other and then to me. The Seller – the husband – then looked at his lawyer, got up, said: “I did my part,” and walked out the door. My clients began to panic. “What does this mean Carlos? Do we own the house or not? Can we move in? Oh my God, we don’t have a place to go, our stuff is in the trucks, which are due back tomorrow. Oh Christ, we need to register the kids at school tomorrow!”

I told them not to panic and went to work. With the assistance of the Seller’s attorney, who I know and who was sympathetic to our situation, we immediately typed up a Certification for our clients to sign, and an emergent Order to Show Cause. I then drove to the local Superior Court, and asked a Chancery judge to allow my clients to move in and to force the Seller to sell. He agreed. Later that evening, with the Sheriff’s Office in tow, our family moved in and changed the locks. The judge also gave the Seller’s husband the ability to sign the deed, which he did.

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