If you decide to walk, everybody's right. Use a Realtor. It doesn't cost you anything, the builders generally pay any fee. It's worth the peace of mind. If they don't release your earnest money, it will be a costly lesson. At least it's not more. I have heard of people losing $15k paying for their special upgrades.
Having said that, most home builders want to work with you as a client and will gladly return your ernest money as it's not worth fighting someone over two thousand dollars and getting a bad reputation. Your problem may be resolved as simply as asking the salesperson to terminate the contract and return the ernest money.
In your future purchase, I would recommend having someone represent you. It's always a good idea to have a Realtor represent your best interest.
Feel free to contact me for your future needs.
It looks like you don't have an agent representing you. So I suggest that you read all the documents that you have signed with the builder and go from there. You may want to hire an attorney to assist you. Most likely, though, is that you'll lose your earnest money.
For the future, I would suggest that you have an agent representing you. Your agent is there to look after you and not the builder. The cost of having an agent is free and any reputable builder is not going to give you a price break because you don't have an agent.
I hope that makes sense!
Read your contract completely. Then, if you still think you have a chance, you can fax the attorney a copy of the contract so they can advise you on that particular situation. Although agents don't take the place of an attorney, they can often help when negotiating with Sellers (and Builders). It sounds like you need an agent to help you. Was the covered Patio shown as an upgrade on your sales price? Or, did they roll it into the sales price from already existing plans with a model # (without the covered patio). Have you tried going back to Meritage to see if they can correct it? (Like wall over the window?) They may work with you to make you happy if you can't get your earnest money back. They probably want you to buy the house and not walk away.
If the language in your contract is not clear to you, then you should seek the advice of an attornery. You may be able to get an opinion from the Title company that is holding the earnest money. The title company is either owned by an attorney or has one on staff.
Any money that you give to the builder for upgrades it will not be return.
Pretty much that is the way it works, but you may want to double check on your contract or ask you buyer agent to help you with this situation.
IF you don't have a Realtor who represented you WHY no matter what always use an agent who we are trained with continual education on contract(s) , contract law. RECOMMEND to confer with an attorney review the entire contract.
UNLESS the entire contract is reviewed NO professional can render an opinion.
Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors