Since this was posted back in April, I am curious as to the outcome. Your agent should have explained the terms of the contract to you. How much time passed after the 21 day period? You, as the buyer do have some responsibilites and most likely you would not get the deposit back.
The California contracts were changed recently to favor the seller in most situations. I'm assuming that you signed a Contingency Removal form rather than a Counter Offer, which clearly states that "Buyer's deposit shall not be returned if Buyer does not close escrow. This could happen even if, for example, Buyer does not approve of some aspect of the Property or lender does not approve Buyer's loan."
Your Realtor should have explained contingency periods to you at the time the purchase contract was signed and at the time you removed your contingencies, and of course someone who wasn't present when you signed these contracts cannot be sure what was said (or not said) during these conversations.
The contingency periods are meant to protect the seller, since tying up a home in escrow means that the sellers cannot continue to accept offers from other buyers. Backing out either because you changed your mind or couldn't get the desired loan approved is not considered to be a valid reason for cancelling escrow once contingencies have been removed, so you'll likely have a tough time getting a resolution through the legal system. The legal department at the California Association of Realtors is very clear on this point - there is no obligation for the seller to return the deposit to the buyer in this situation, nor is there any obligation for the Realtor to refund the buyer's deposit out of their own funds.
You should talk with the Realtor's Broker and see if there can be any sort of voluntary resolution where you'll get a portion of your deposit back from your Realtor, although they are not obligated to do this.
I can see the only chance you can get your deposit back if you signed your contract with a contingency on your loan. Since you could not get the loan approved then you can cancel the contract. Your Realtor should advise and explain to you those terms before you signed the contract. Good luck.
Just based on the strict facts that you have mentioned, it doesn't sound like you are entilted to your deposit back. However, a good real estate attorney might be able to find a technicality or breech in contract to help you get that money back...however keep in mind how much you would have to pay the attorney and what your chances of "winning" are.
Good Luck to you
Lou & Alex
LA Real Estate Group
If you had the seller's home tied up for, what appears from your question, more than 21 days and didn't have loan approval... there is a good chance you won't be getting any of that deposit back. As advised by others... contact an attorney for further councel, there could be some simple mistake made within the contract that makes it voidable. However, after 3 weeks within a transaction your legal outs written into the verbage of that sale contract (there to protect you) have mostly gone by the wayside even if you hadn't removed your contingencies with the counter offer. The counter offer addendum you signed may not have changed the outcome of loosing your deposit being you were tied into that sale for such a long time prior to terminating the sale. As mentioned... contact a lawyer!
Good luck to you...
JAY KAPLAN - JAY KAPLAN AND ASSOCIATES
609 Deep Vly Dr
Rolling Hills Es,CA 90274
That said, the principle is that once you remove all contingencies and then want to back out, you lose your deposit.
I'd suggest you first talk with your Realtor's Broker and see if there's a way to go through with your purchase, if the loan was the only reason you wanted to back out.
You can certainly file a complaint with your state's licensing agency (Department of Real Estate in California, where I am) but that probably won't get your money back.
Failing those two options you would have to sue, but a real estate attorney is where you need to go for that advice.
Start with the Broker in the office of the Realtor you worked with.