The seller can sue you for 3% of the purchase price. Provided you signed the mediation/arbitration form that will alow you to mediate rather than go to court. You might be able to explain your hardship to the agent. You are doing the right thing though. Don't get in over your head. Sorry about your husband and situation. It will get better. Talk to you agent and see if they can advise you or if they have an in-house attorney. If they do you might be able to contact them for guidance through the process and perhaps settle. I assume you are past your contingency period. If you have removed all of your contingencies than you could more than likely be on the hook for the 3%. If you husband is on the contract too you might want to see if he would be liable for half. Please seek the guidance of an attorney. If you need a referal, let me know.
Keller Williams Wilshire-The Reavis Group
Check your Purchase Agreement. Did you and the seller sign the liquidated damages clause on page 5, paragraph 16 of the standard C.A.R Residential Purchase Agreement? (I always make sure that my buyers sign this paragraph for their protection and that seller executes it also.)
The Paragraph reads: "If Buyer fails to compelete this purchase bacause of Buyer's default, Seller shall retain, as liquidated damages, the deposit actually paid. If the Property is a dwelling with no more than four units, once of which Buyer intends to occupy, then the amount retained shall be no more than 3% of the purchase price. Any excess shall be returned to Buyer. Release of funds will require mutual, Signed release instructions from both Buyer and Seller, judicial decision or arbitration award."
I have been told that this means (1) Seller can keep your deposit; (2) If your deposit is over 3% of the purchase price of an owner occupied 1 - 4 unit propety, Seller can only keep 3% maximum. This does NOT ALLOW seller to sue for 3%, it LIMITS their damages to the lesser of your good faith deposit or 3%. Of course, if you did not complete the box, then seller has the right to sue for actual and documented damages, without limit.
If you truly feel that your realtor is trying to pressure you to buy the home, go to their broker and explain what is going on. Also, check with a competent real estate attorney to determine your rights (I am not an attorney and nothing I wrote above should be interpretted as legal advice). If you need a referral, contact me through my profile.
I have a good feeling that you are doing the right thing and have the right attitude about your situation. Go to the Broker and I am sure they will support you in this very difficult, but correct decision. Dare to Dream.
Real Estate Consultant
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty