Home Buying in Sarasota>Question Details

Flauren, Home Buyer in Sarasota, FL

How long does an attorney have to return an earnest money deposit? It has been 3 months. All parties agree that we are due a full refund of deposit.

Asked by Flauren, Sarasota, FL Tue Sep 7, 2010

Our contract was contingent upon financing - financing fell through and we had a letter from the bank to prove it.
Seller's have requested that their attorney release the earnest money deposit back to us, but we have yet to receive it. I can't reach the attorney. I feel he is stalling for some reason.
Is there a time limit that he can hold the deposit? the deal fell through 3 months ago.

Help the community by answering this question:


The deposit should be released immediately.
Do you have a signed release and cancellation signed by yourself and seller?
If it is an attorney holding the earnest money deposit, they are not governed by the Florida Real Estate Commission, however they do answer to the Florida Bar. Below is the contact info, give them a call and find out the procedure to making a claim on their escrow account. You may want to email the attorney at every address you can find for their firm. Follow up with a letter with receipt confirmation. This starts a time line for your file.
Your real estate agent should be on top of this making these demands as well.
The Florida Bar
651 E. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850) 561-5600
Center for Professionalism:
Carl J. Zahner
Shannon Fleming
Megan Swiggard
Becky Blackburn

State of Florida
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Division of Real Estate
400 West Robinson Street, N801
Orlando, Fl 32801
Phone: 850.487.1395

May I ask who the attorney is we are speaking of?

Brooke O'Malley
Search Foreclosures at http://www.MyClubRealty.com
Web Reference: http://www.MyClubRealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
Did you sign a Release of Deposit request form? Once Buyer and Seller sign, the Deposit should be release in a day or two. What is your Realtor telling you? The answers below gave you the correct places to call and to file a complaint. Who is the attorney or Law firm holding the deposit?
Jim Soda 941-809-7759 jim@jimsoda.com
Top 5 In Real Estate Network
Prudential Lakewood RanchRealty
Your Real Estate Resource for The Greater Sarasota-Lakewood Ranch Areas
Web Reference: http://www.jimsoda.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
3 months is ridiculous. Most of the time it takes just a few days.
Start making calls and if that doesn't help, file a complaint.

Good Luck!

Elena Ollick
Amerivest Realty
Faith Home Loans
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
Once a RELEASE for deposit monies has been signed off on by SELLERS and BUYERS (meaning no dispute as to release of deposit) then the Brokerage, Title Company, or in this case ATTORNEY is to release monies back to the party which made the deposit IMMEDIATELY upon receiving such RELEASE. Resubmit your request along with release. Seek reason why money has not been released from your agent should it not be released and or seek Counsel. Good Luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
Unless their was a dispute with the seller, a cancellation of contract and release of liability should have been signed. At this point, the holder of the escrow funds should release them to you immediately.
Web Reference: http://truesarasota.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 20, 2011
if all parties have signed off on release of escrow should be returned as soon as it can be process which should not take long.
if you do not get anywhere call FREC Florida Real estate Commission and report this person holding escrow
also your agent ,if you have one should be fighting for you. If you are not working with an agent this is another reason as a buyer you should for instead of seller's attorney holding escrow, your agents company would be and you would have your funds back by now
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 15, 2010
Thank you all for your responses. Although, the agent and the sellers have all agreed that I should be getting my deposit back, I have yet to see a Release of Deposit form. I will get this signed and will also be contacting the florida bar association as well.

Thanks again for your time!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 8, 2010
You are correct to feel that the delay is inappropriate - good information and suggestions from the Florida agents that responded, I'd take their advice.

Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
You indicated that you as the buyer and the seller executed a cancellation of contract and release of deposit. Is this true? Please call your agent ASAP. Also, you may want to consult an atty.
I feel that you should have it back by now.

Best of luck,

Debbie Albert, PA
Coldwell Banker Residential
Web Reference: http://www.ronanddebbie.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
Hi Flauren. It should have taken a few days, maybe a week at the most. You're saying that the attorney won't respond? Very odd. Have you visited his office? Are you sure he's still in business?

First I would do as Anna suggests and try to get relief via your attorney. This money cannot be touched by this attorney for any other reason except your transaction. It's supposed to be sitting in a very special, separate escrow account. I would also make a call to the Florida Bar Association and ask them for some advice: http://www.floridabar.org/

Let us know what happened, please.


Scott Miller, Realty Associates, Boca Raton, FL
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
My agent was also representing the seller. She agrees, as do the sellers that our deposit should be refunded in full.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
What is your agent suggesting and what is your attorney advising--at this point consider consulting with your attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
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