By Samia Cullen
Real estate transactions sometimes fail - itâ€™s a fact of
life. When they do, the parties face the potentially daunting task of figuring
out who might be at fault and whether either has recourse against the other.
The resolution of contract disputes can be quite complex.
The PRDS Real Estate Purchase Contract form that is most
often used by our local agents has a liquidated damage clause that, if initialed
by both buyer and seller, enables both parties to agree up front on the amount
of monetary damages a party will be entitled to receive in the event the other
party fails to perform. It states in part:
In the event of failure to complete this purchase due to
buyerâ€™s breach of the contract and not for reason of default by the seller, a) seller
is released from the obligation to sell to buyer, b) seller shall retain
buyerâ€™s deposit paid as sellerâ€™s only recourse, and c) if the property contains
one to four units, one which buyer intends to occupy, then any deposit retained
by the seller shall not exceed 3% of the purchase price, with any excess
promptly returned to buyer.
The liquidated damages clause does not automatically entitle
the seller to the buyer's deposit if a transaction does not close - it does
only determines the amount of money the seller can recover if the buyer in fact
breached the contract. If the buyer and seller disagree as to whether the buyer
breached the contract, the seller generally must prove in court or in arbitration
that the buyer's failure to close the transaction was wrongful.
The PRDS Real Estate Purchase Contract instructs the escrow
holder to not release any deposited funds unless agreed to in writing by both
buyer and seller or pursuant to court or arbitration order.
In our area most buyers and sellers include the liquidated
damages clause in their purchase contracts.
information contained in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal
advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual