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Cancelling a purchase contract

March 16, 2018
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I recently signed a contract to purchase a lot in Cape Coral to build my retirement home. I called down to city hall and found out that the property is zoned for multi-family, and that I can only put up a duplex on the property. I definitely want my space, and do not want to rent half of my house. I put down a $10,000 deposit on the purchase, can I get it back?

-Annie P.

Dear Annie,

Thank you for this question - this is an issue that comes up more frequently than one would expect. Cape Coral still has tens of thousands of vacant lots. Land use and zoning classification dictates what can and cannot be built on these lots. While the vast majority of properties in Cape Coral allow for single-family development, some only allow for multi-family or commercial development.

The analysis always begins with the contract. Typically, in an "as-is" contract, the buyer has a certain period of time to make whatever inspections they wish prior to proceeding. Typically that time is about 15 days, but this can vary through negotiation. You indicate you recently signed the contract, so if you are still within that inspection period, you can cancel for nearly ANY reason during that time, and be entitled to a return of deposit.

If you have gone beyond the expiration of the inspection period, you may have other remedies. The contract will generally indicate what the property is intended to be used for. If it says "single family," there may be ways to exit the contract from a legal basis. If you are using a Realtor, make sure they are aware of this situation immediately. Even if the contract is not supportive of allowing you out of this deal, the seller may understand your situation and agree to return all or part of your deposit.

There may be other ways that you can cancel the contract that would be specific to your situation. With this kind of money on the line, it is advisable to seek a professional legal opinion on your rights.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for 28 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continued his service to the community through his chairmanship of the Harney Point Kiwanis Club KidsFest from 2011-2015, which provides a free day of fun and learning to thousands of Cape Coral families, and funds numerous scholarships. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 14 years, and they have four children together. Recently, he earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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