I'm sure you've gotten the message by now that you didn't have representation in either deal.
Even so, that part about the seller demanding your earnest money from the title company and the title company giving it away without your approval is odd. You certainly should investigate whether the title company was acting properly.
You might also contact the Arizona Attorney General's office.
Hope that helps.
I am sorry to hear of your problems. I strongly recommend that buyers use a Buyer's agent, experienced in Builder transaction, when buying from a builder to avoid the problems you experienced. One really needs to read the builder contracts carefully and understand your risks . The Builder's Agent represents the Builder, not you. The standard AZ Realtor Purchase contract would have returned your earnest money under the Loan contingency provision. Builders use their own contract which does not protected you. Having said that, the Agent at the Builder may have actually been acting in a Dual Agency capacity and you might get the problem address by filing a complaint at the AZ Department of Real Estate. As mentioned, you might want to talk to a real estate attorney, to explore you options, but as pointed out, the cost may not be worth it.
Always get a loan pre-qualification from an experienced lender before you go shopping. If the Lender you talk to did not ask you for a copy of your tax returns and other proof of earnings, you can be sure the Pre-Qualification you got is not worth the paper it is printed on. Never give the Builder a deposit until you have your loan secured. Once you have a loan Pre-Qualification from a good lender, you can consider if the deal being offered by the Builder's lender is better or worse than your lender. You can even go back to your chosen lender and see if they can match the Builders lender incentives. These so called Builder incentives on loans are often paid by you over the life of the loan or through a higher purchase price. There is no free ride.
When buying from a private seller, do not give them any money until you have a real estate lawyer review the transaction contract, or use an experienced Realtor that knows how to protect you. Many Realtors are not experienced in how some of these deals should be structured, such as "Contract for Deed" or so called Lease Purchase Contracts to protect both buyer and seller. There are a bunch of scams out there to take your money. Get experienced representation.
If you want to discuss this further, give me a call.
Your Local Expert
Central AZ Real Estate
I am sorry to hear of your losses. Although I cannot help you how to get your money back (there may be a way to get your earnest money back, explained below), I can advise you to always, always, always use your own Real Estate Agent to represent your best interests. From your question, it sounds like you didn't have one in either case, otherwise, they would have been watching this for you. Using the builder's agent does not count - they represent the builder's interest.
If you are still looking to purchase a home, may I suggest you contact Loren Hoboy, a Realtor I've worked with for quite a while who knows the market and is very detail oriented. He may be able to help you get back your earnest money deposits to use on the home you finally do buy with his assistance.
Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any further questions, I'd be glad to help.
All the best,
Roswell Moore, CMPS
Certified Mortgage Planner
We are a Direct Lender, Mortgage Bank where we originate, process, underwrite, fund, AND SERVICE our loans, in-house, with FHA (starting at a 580 score AND still only 3.5% down), FHA Streamline loans (NO minimum credit score, NO appraisal required) Go Green rehab loans, HomePath, Investor Friendly (10 financed properties), VA, USDA, Jumbo, Conventional, plus, we allow Escrow HoldBacks!
It does not sound like you understood your contract, so either you weren't represented by an agent or you did not use one. In order to see any of your earnest money, you will need to contact an attorney. At this point in time, you have a legal issue of getting back earnest money that was retained by both sellers due to your breach of contract. You need an attorney to figure out how, per the terms of the contract, you can challenge the seller(s). DO NOT ACCEPT LEGAL ADVICE FROM A REAL ESTATE AGENT.
Many of us spend years building knowledge and a team of individuals to support our efforts for clients.
Most of us represent you at no fee as we are paid by the sellers in a transaction.
Please reach out to a Realtor that you respect and work together to find you a great new home.
It's impossible to answer your question without seeng your contract and having more information about what happened in both situations. It's sounds like you weren't represented by a Real Estate Agent or Broker. A Realtor would have represented your interests, If your loan was denied, you should have been entitled to a refund of your earnest money.
You can certainly ask for a written explanation and/or you can also pursue legal action however, but often the legal costs and fees will likely far exceed the amount you lost.
I work in the Buckeye area. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call.
Edie Wood REALTOR
602-315-4329 (cell - Verizon)
Arizona Team Realty
firstname.lastname@example.org (email direct)
It sounds like both time you were not represented by a real estate broker. I'm not sure exactly what went on without seeing your actual contract, but if you had an agent, then you probably wouldn't be unprotected like this.
As for what you can do, it all depends on the contract. Basically, you can only ask for the money back, nicely. If they don't return your money, then there's not much you can do. If you pursue the legal route, you'll likely spend 10x more on legal fees than your deposits.