Home Buying in 90066>Question Details

Wendy Esbin, Home Owner in 17565

Seller will not release deposit monies.

Asked by Wendy Esbin, 17565 Mon Nov 8, 2010

We entered into a Sales Agreement for vacant land on September 1, 2010. Settlement was to occur on November 19, 2010. The sale was contingent upon us getting approval for an access strip for a driveway onto the property from the Township office. We received a letter from the Township on October 28, 2010, saying that the access strip does not conform to township ordinance and therefore no driveway permit would be granted. We informed Sellers real estate agent of this and signed a Release of Agreement and Distribution of Deposit Monies and Termination of Agreement on October 28, 2010, and provided our letter of denial from the Township to the Sellers and their agent on November 1, 2010. We still have not received any word from their real estate agent that they have signed the Release yet? Any advice on what we should do?

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They have no grounds for withholding your money, I would call the agents office and speak to his/her broker and if they still ignore you, a simple letter from your attorney would sure get their attention.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010

I am happy to hear that you got your issue resolved and I agree with you 100% that buyers must enter every transaction with full understanding of what will happen if things don't go as planned. Having a knowledgeable agent represent you is imparative in every transaction, so there is an experienced professional who can look out for your interest.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 4, 2010
Dear Sarah B.
I am hoping you entered into this puchase with the help of your own excellent Buyer Agent from a Commerical Brokerage. Commercial purchase is different then residential with fewer contingencies and buyer protections.
Your agent, or the office broker will be the best one to answer this question. All brokerages have legal departments which you may need to look into at this time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 4, 2010
We got a call from the real estate agent for sellers and he informed us that he had the signed release and would have our deposit monies available to pick immediately. This is a true buyer beware though! Perhaps other people when purchasing real estate should have something written into their agreement that if the deal turns sour and the contingencies can not be met that sellers have to sign a release in so many days once notice is given by buyers or suffer some type of consequence. It is very nerve-racking for the buyers when they have done their due diligence and have produced evidence that contingencies can not be met, but still sellers won't budge. Just a word to the wise for future dealings.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
First look at your contract. It is the legal document that governs the transaction. It is what binds all parties. If the contingency is indeed part of it, then you may have recourse. In my state, parties have signed they will go to mediation to try to resolve any issues that arise. That would be step one. If your contract does not have that, it should spell out what happens to the earnest money, and how things should progress.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
Your agent is the one looking out for you and should be doing everything they can to get your money back. They should be taking care of this, if you are getting nowhere, go to there broker, title, escrow, etc. There is also a manager of the title company or possibly escrow company you can speak with. In most states you need a mutual release between both the buyer and seller, however if the contingencies have not been met you have an automatic out of the contract. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 13, 2010
Hi Sarah,

You have every right to get your deposit back since it was contingent upon the approval for an access strip. I would recommend that your agent contact the seller's agent to resolve getting your deposit back. If that does not work then I would suggest for you to contact a real estate attorney.

Wish you the best!

Best Regards,
Nancy Zelada
Keller Williams Realty
(323) 603-6885
Web Reference: http://www.NancyZelada.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 10, 2010
Your agent should be all over the sellers agent and if they are getting nowhere, then take if up the ladder to the sellers agents office manager or managing broker. I am assuming escrow is still in possession of the deposit. If you contingency was still in place, then continue to contact the seller or their representatives and I would also suggest contacting an attorney. Once an attorney has reviewed and backs you, have them send a letter and that should rattle their cage a bit... the seller doesnt want to be liable for attorneys fees in addition. Good luck.
Richard "RJ" Kas (SFR, SRES)
"Representing the finest properties from Los Angeles worldwide"
KAS Properties - Coldwell Banker Previews International - Beverly Hills East
9388 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.859-5334 office - 310.488.9826 mobile - 310-273-0670 fax ATT: RJ
RichardKas@gmail.com - http://www.RJforLA.com - DRE: 01352771
Sellers Buyers Investors Leasing Consulting
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 9, 2010
You now need to consult a Real Estate Attorney in your State.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010
Thank you all so much for the advice - it certainly does ease our minds. We have been in touch with an attorney and he states that the Seller has no leg to stand on regarding their hold up on the return of our deposit either. I will be contacting the Seller's agent to see exactly what the hold up is and proceed accordingly. Thank you again for the advice everybody. I'll keep you posted.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010

You need to contact a local attorney for specific advice.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010
Hi Sarah,
I'm not sure how it works in PA, but according to the CA Residential Purchase Contract, the seller could be subject to a monetary penalty if he/she refuses to sign the mutual cancellation agreement IF no "good faith dispute" exists. In my experience, when a buyer cancels due to his/her contingency rights, Escrow will draft the Cancellation/Deposit Release within 24-48 hours, mail to all parties for signature (most escrow companies require an original signature) and release the deposit (minus any fees) upon receipt of the signed agreement from all parties. This usually takes about 10-12 days. Is there a dispute about your cancellation rights? You'll want to call the Escrow company to find out exactly what the hold-up is and then comb through your Purchase Contract to see if there is a penalty that the seller would be subject to if the hold-up is on his/her end. Perhaps you could point that language out to help light the fire under the seller to get the Release signed.
Good Luck!
p.310.383.1141 | http://www.LAVillageRealty.com
RealEstateSuz@gmail.com | lic # 01390707
(a division of Power Brokers Int'l | lic # 01520327)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010
That is true, both sides do need to sign off on the release. The seller should only be allowed to keep the deposit if you are in breach of the contract. As long as you have met your contingecies and have not missed any deadlines, then the seller should return your deposit. You are going to have to talk to the sellers agent and find out what the hold up is.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010
We are in Pennsylvania. We were told by the Sellers agent that there must be a mutual release signed by both Buyer and Seller prior to a release of the escrow funds.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010
Your use of certain terms in your story makes me uncertain where your purchase is located. CA law regarding deposits is different than, say, Canada, as we use a different deposit receipt, and there are different steps you must take. Where is your purchase?
Deborah Bremner
The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
REALTOR, 00588885, ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
(O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
(D) 818.564.6591
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010
Sounds like you are within your rights to have your deposit returned. If you are working with an agent, have your agent get in contact with the seller or sellers agent and find out what the hold up is. It may just be a matter of cutting the check or putting it in the mail. Without knowing what the hold up is, it's hard to advise.

If the sellers are refusing to return your deposit, then you may need to seek the advice of an attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 8, 2010
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