Home Buying in Maryland>Question Details

jackman, Home Buyer in 21122

Real estate contract broken due to inspection contingencies, and seller will not give earnest money back. What are our rights?

Asked by jackman, 21122 Thu Dec 13, 2012

Put in an offer on a house. The contract came back with lines through some verbage about the well and per the county standards is potable so the sellers wouldnt pay any repairs on the well b.c it was potable. We had a home inspection it said the water was acidic and would cause damages to the pipes, fixtures, and over time we would have to replace those things since no water softening neutralizer system was in the home. Had two independent contractors come into the home they tested the water to give me their results. Both said the same thing its acidic and high levels of iron. I then paid for a well water inspection that sends results out to a lab. Same results. We asked seller to give credit for a water softening system in inspection contingency they said no so we backed out of the contract b.c we felt uncomfortable. We moved on, but they will not release our earnest $. They said see you at settlement or in court. How can they make us buy a home we dont want? I feel bullied!

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Did you withdraw inside the home inspection contingency period? If so, get your broker involved. They can't keep your deposit. If you withdrew after the contingency period then you are at risk of losing the deposit. Best to get your agent to go to his broker and have them communicate with the other agents broker to try to work it out.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
Ok just checked we had 30 days for inspection and it was complete and given to them in plenty of time. So yes we withdrew inside the inspection contingency period. I should have been leary about it from the beginning as they were trying to get us not to do any inspections or testing of the well or water and they marked up the contract being determined to be potable per county and no money will be allotted to fix it. That was "well" specific not water filtration system. All the homes in this county have water softeners acid neutralizers as there is high levels of radium which causes cancer in the well water here. Can you tell i have been doing my homework on the water....lol Anyhow, I dont feel they have a leg to stand on we have every right as a buyer to back out during the contingency period they messed up and didnt accept all our terms and we exercised that right. It was a risk on their part and they called our bluff. If they would have accepted everything we would be stuck.
Flag Thu Dec 13, 2012
its only been a few weeks so I am sure we are in the contingency period. My agent is from Redfin they do not have brokers. They are paid salary. So I know I will have to pay for an attorney or represent myself.
Flag Thu Dec 13, 2012
Hi Jackman,

The Mayland well water contract language is weak and has always has been. The well water language should state to meet or exceed "EPA standards" for acid, nitrates radon etc. This additional language has to be written separately by the buyers agent. The Maryland contract septic inspection language is weak as well.

You will need to consult your agents real estate broker or a real estate attorney.


Greg Myers
RE/MAX Realty Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 14, 2012
Oh no, that was written in there. I had no idea. Thank you for bringing this to light. I was wondering, no judge would force someone to buy a home they no longer want right? We exercised our right to get out based upon then not fully disclosing what actually was in the home. We had no idea until inspection that the home had no water filtration. So we asked for a credit, they said no, we exercised the right to walk. They got mad tried to threaten court and demanded us to closing. We said see u in court. Anything can happen in contingency inspection period. They refuse to put the house back on the market which is a terrible move b.c we said we have no more interest in the property and they should try to find a potential buyer if one is out there.
Flag Fri Dec 14, 2012
The best thing to do is have an attorney or your agent's broker review your well water inspection addendum- some wellwater test addendums are only contingent on having a bacteria test which means having potable water, other well water test addendums are contingent on 4 different types of tests performed on the water- bacteria, lead, radium, and chemical tests- these are more expensive then just bacteria alone but are well worth it because the seller would need to correct the problem if the results weren't satisfactory otherwise you have an out in the contract. Hopefully your contingency covered all 4 tests-
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
I think mine may have the 4 tests in it, but I didnt go through with the radium and lead testing b.c of the price. I wouldnt mind going back to get it done now.....but I am afraid they wouldnt let us near the property since we have agreed to see them in court. I am almost certain if tested for radium it will show signs of it. I dont have a broker, when I called the title company the woman got all nervous about the situation and was like I need to stay out of this you need to call an attorney.
Flag Thu Dec 13, 2012
they arent' trying to make you buy the house, they just feel they are entitled to keep the escrow. Talk with your agent and his broker to discuss your options. You did have a Realtor involved, didn't you? if not, you are looking at small claims court. Who actually is holding the deposit? You certainly did your best to make sure there was a problem with the water and it wasn't just one test that came back bad.
Best of luck to you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
Since nobody on this forum has a copy of the contract, and the timeline, nobody can really give you a specific answer. If your agent believes that the earnest money deposit should be returned to you, and it isn't, than he/she needs to get their broker involved as soon as possible. Earnest money issues can be complex because there are very specific rules that the brokers have to follow.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
Hi Jackman,

it depends on the language in the contract and did the parties fulfill their obligations . If the brokerages can not work it out you may have to go to mediation.

good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
The inspection contingencies were not satisfied since they would not give us credit for the water system. If they would have agreed to this then they would have had us in the contract, but b.c they didnt we had the right to back out and move on to something else. We werent heart broken we just want our money back and we are prepared to go to court but what can they get really? they have no right b.c they did not disclose anything about what the house came with as far as applicances etc. We had to higher inspector to show us what we had and didnt have and that is when we realized this place doesnt have a water filter system. Its new construction too. Anyhow, we found another place and want to make a move on it, but they are being nuts over the earnest money and trying to force us into a house we dont want! They blew it.
Flag Thu Dec 13, 2012
I live in a home with the same issues, acidic water with high levels of iron. I have a whole house filter and softner. It did not cost me much and now we are enjoying the home my wife and I loved from the beginning. I would hate to think that a water softner system would break the deal of you purchasing a home that you would enjoy living in. The water IS potable. Maybe you were having second thoughts? Not sure but I would certainly open up this line of communication with your Agent and see what they think. Frankly, if I were the Sellers, I would install a water softner just to rectify future problems or to help move you to the settlement table. I wish you well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 13, 2012
I have two estimates avg of 3k for one. I have limited time to buy a house and no issues moving on this is not the final home for us so we are not heartbroken at all. We did have second thoughts after the water inspections. My agent says he is not a lawyer and cant give advice but the sellers didnt disclose anything in the home like the number of appliances etc. After we invoked the right to end the contract based upon them not accepting contingencies, they wanted to give us the credit and we said no thanks we are moving on. That is when they said see you at settlement or in court. Its frustrating to us that they are trying to bully us into purchasing a home that we dont want. Not to mention this realtor and the builder would be our neighbors so I definately dont want to live there now.
I have two estimates avg of 3k for one. I have limited time to buy a house and no issues moving on this is not the final home for us so we are not heartbroken at all. We did have second thoughts after the water inspections. My agent says he is not a lawyer and cant give advice but the sellers didnt disclose anything in the home like the number of appliances etc. After we invoked the right to end the contract based upon them not accepting contingencies, they wanted to give us the credit and we said no thanks we are moving on. That is when they said see you at settlement or in court. Its frustrating to us that they are trying to bully us into purchasing a home that we dont want. Not to mention this realtor and the builder would be our neighbors so I definately dont want to live there now.
Flag Thu Dec 13, 2012
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