This is one of those times that living up north would have worked in your favor, as you would have had legal representation in place already.
Here is the situation...read your contract!
See if there is a mention of the deposit being used as "LIQUIDATED DAMAGES".
What this means, is..in the event of a default/breach of the contract, which you seem to have, the deposit IS turned over to the seller and may be kept to cover their damages. There is no right, however, to sue for any more than the deposit amount.
By the way - how much is being held?
If your contract doesn't mention "liquidated damages" (and our "northern" contracts usually do NOT), then it means you have the right to use the court system to go after any actual losses. You may not know what you total losses are until you're able to sell and close on your home.
Now - you say your agent told you it would be a "simple matter" to get and keep the deposit........why not ask him or her how this is to happen.
Since we use attorneys, here, this situation would easily be covered.
Quite honestly, you very well may have to seek legal counsel, but, the good news may be, you may be entitled to collect legal fees as part of the settlement.
It is certainly worth a call to an attorney if the buyer doesn't cooperate in releasing the deposit to you.
As the other agents have said here both parties need to sign the release paperwork in order for the deposit to be released from the broker escrow account. It is unfortunate that this happened to you so late in the process. I did see that your home is back on the market. I will keep it in mind for any of my Cherry Hill buyers.
Remax Main St.
Moorestown, NJ 08057
It may sound like a big deal, but if you think about it.. you wouldn't want the e.m. to be released without both signatures... after all, what if the buyer said they wanted it back, and didn't need your signature??
You may not need an attorney.. just submit the paperwork... if the investor has admitted that he's in default, he may be willing to simply sign the release.
As noted both parties must agree on the release of the deposit. From experience, at this pointy ou would have to file a legal complaint to get the deposit. The agent has no bearing in the discussion about the deposit goes to and cannot just release the monies to you. Seems like you do not have a choice but to seek legal advice. In my experiences I have seen attorneys negotiate a fair amount or all of the deposit. It is not that simple, espectially if the buyer is reluctant to let the money go.
In your next transaction make sure you have an attorney do the closing. Attorney costs vary, but can be $750-$1000 and it is worth the money to be protected.
At this point you have nothing, so talk to a real estate attorney and pay him out of what you get.
Hope it works out.
You can bargain with the other side if you do not want to go to court... such as ask for 50% or more... you may not want to but may be your best chance to a speedy remedy... to get an attorney would prob require retainer of $3000-$5000 unless you know someone...
Is the default admitted in writing?
simple small claims case.. also damages.
This is a legal question and you wont get much more than general info such as what I have given which is not meant to be considered legal advice. . We in this forum cannot provide legal advice.
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