1. Have strong reasons for selling. It's all fun and games until it's time to sign on the dotted line. The agents and potential buyer don't find it humorous when a seller changes their mind at the eleventh hour. Make a pro's and con's list then decide whether it's best to sell now or wait. Do this before signing a listing agreement and putting the for sale sign in the yard.
2. Have a plan A and B if your home sells and you are not prepared for your next move or your reasons for moving fall through. Buyers rightfully assume you know where you're going and have a plan and don't consider this their problem in negotiations or closing.
3. Don't list your home to 'test the market.' Your listing agent spends a considerable amount of money and time investing in your home to sell and they don't get compensated until it does. The buyer(s) fall in love with your house and start dreaming of their family making a home there. It's just not right to play with people's time, money and hearts on your whim.
4. Don't forget your original reasons for wanting to sell. Odds are you'll come back to wanting to sell again in the future and do you really want to go through all this again? Pull your pro's and con's list out from #1 when the finality of the sale hits and brings up feelings of long emotional ties.
If a seller changes their mind once in contract, it can be risky. Assuming the buyer does not default and continues to be willing and able the seller can be sued for specific performance. Whether or not the court ultimately makes the seller sell is irrelevant if a lis pendens is filed by the buyers attorney and the seller's title is now non-marketable (can't sell/refinance) many years while tied up in civil court. A seller changing their mind mid purchase contract can have serious financial consequences and legal advice should be sought immediately.
The mass majority of sellers, just like buyers, have a fleeting moment of remorse (who wouldn't it's a big transaction) but avoiding sellers that leave claw marks before letting go should be a priority. Consider if this is really how you want to purchase your 'dream home.' There is no 100% guaranteed way to prevent it but here are a few potential red flags of seller's who are possibly already beginning to struggle with seller's remorse:
1. There seems to be no good reason the house hasn't already sold.
2. Difficult to schedule showings.
3. Unrealistic expectations and irrational contract negotiations on behalf of the seller.
4. Grossly overpriced.
5. Agent(s) mention they are very difficult to work with.