If you sign the release, then your deposit is immediately released to the sellers and the transaction is closed.
If you don't sign, then you'll have to hire your attorney to pursue your deposit. Otherwise, by not signing immediately, nobody gets the money and it sits in escrow. If you use your attorney, then I'd hope your deposit is worth at least $100K. If not, then it's likely not worth the $20-40K it'll cost for the slim chance to recover your deposit.
As for which option you should pursue, you'll have to check with your attorney for a legal consultation.
1. Request a disbursement order from FREC
2. Submit the matter to arbitrations (your contract may have an arbitration clause)
3. Submit the mater to mediation with consent of all parties, which must be concluded in 90 days
4. Seek adjudication of the matter thru the court
Depending upon the amount of money you have at stake you may want to hire a real estate litigation attorney to assist you in getting your money back. Cost is relevant when making this decision; it clearly depends upon how much you have a stake. A settlement could take as much as a year once both parties hire attorneys.
It's is unfortunate that you were not able to come to a meeting of the minds with the seller, or that the agent wasn't willing to negotiate a bit of their commission with you to fix up the banged up doors and walls to complete the sale. Instead the agent makes 0 on this deal and has to sell the property all over again.
Depending upon the local MLS rules some local boards will not allow a listing to be put back to Active status again until any escrow funds are returned or a dispute is resolved. Check with the local board of REALTORS to check their MLS rules regarding the status of listing with escrow disputes. The agent may not want to risk having the seller’s property off the market for a long period of time and that might give you some negotiating power to get your money back if the seller wants their property back on the market to find another buyer.
By not encouraging the seller to return your funds, this agent is the real loser. It also sounds like they are inexperienced, if they are saying they have to notify DPBR, that’s incorrect and you certainly don’t have to sign anything by Monday. They have opened up a door for all parties that will cause nothing but long term grief and aggravation. They may be too inexperienced to know that too. You have the potential to make that agents life pretty miserable, escrow disputes are not a pleasant.
It appears at this time they are waiting for an answer from you by requesting you to sign the Release and Cancellation of Contract (maybe so they can put it back on the market?) Seems the ball is in your court. As you appear to be the “last party” to make a statement, which must be in writing, and to the agent and their brokerage firm, that you have “doubts” that the seller is entitled to your escrow money based upon the possibility that the seller breached the contract regarding the “final walk thru inspection” clause of your contract. If you don’t understand your contract seek the advise of an attorney.
Beverly Howe, ABR, GRI, TRC, CIPS
"The most important thing a buyer can do is first of all work with a buyer broker." As stated by AARP and the Consumer Federation of America in the REALTOR News.
I am sorry to hear that you were not able to consummate the transaction. In my own opinion, your request for the damages are reasonable unless of course the amount you are asking for is not reasonable.
I could not understand why simple issues such as what you have mentioned can't be resolved at the closing through amicable agreement.
With regard to your question, please consult your lawyer first before signing the release form.