You didn't mention whether you wanted to keep the property - presumably as a rental - or sell it. If your question is related to your tax position, in making it a rental property vs. your personal residence, for tax purposes, then your question should be directed to a tax specialist, not a Realtor.
If you are merely going to sell the property, there is probably NO gestation period which should affect your sale, except possibly if the loan is FHA, when it could affect your buyer, for the 3 months or so, after it has funded. Bear in mind, I'm not certain on that point - and this should not be considered an authoritative opinion.
Did the buyer remove their contingencies? If they did not, and they canceled their contract through one of the contingencies, than they did not breach the contract, and you are not entitles to liquidated damages.
Did they sign liquidated damages?
Talk to your Realtor.... more
You didn't mention why they canceled? Sometimes it's circumstances beyond their control. I'd be just reading into it right now, not knowing. At any rate, I've been in situations when a contingency hasn't been met by the 17th day at which point the other agent executes a "Notice to Perform" which gives you 24 hours to remove your continency and move forward or nix the deal. Any way you look at it, the deposit is given in good faith and most buyers are not willing to part with their money in the event that they cannot move forward with the deal. I try to go by the Golden Rule in all aspects of real estate. I'm not sure if you're buyer elected mediation / arbitration but my guess is, they will most likely fight for their money. I understand where you're coming from, you've lost time on the market, in a very difficult market and you want to recoup your losses. The problem is, while you are involved with any litigation, and releases aren't signed...this will tie everything up and make it difficult for you to move forward to market your property to get another buyer. At any rate, I can't give you a clear cut answer without knowing all the details involved. My other concern is that the timeframe for contingency removal took place during the Christmas holidays...and I don't know if you counted the holiday or excluded it? Busy and hectic time of year and I'm sure difficult for all due to the normal stress of the season, compounded with a real estate transaction...Yikes! My best advise to you would be to seek the advise of an attorney, especially because every situation and circumstance is different.... more