Wow Chris, What a pickle! Well, there are a couple of things.
If you want to purchase the home and the Seller really wants to sell the home, the Sellers Listing Agent can go to the bank and ask for an extension on the approval. I have seen them granted.
If the Sellers "side" of the transaction was just trying to "borrow time" from their lender by stretching the time they stayed in the house because they were trying to short sale it but really they were just trying to stretch their time of livng there and not paying mortage/rent somewhere, then you might not be able to make it work out. The way that you can probably tell if your Seller is serious about selling is if they delivered their notarized signed grant deed to escrow in anticipation of following through. You can also sometimes get a sense by IF they are still occupying the property, do they look like they are planning to move in the timeframe that was alloted?
If selling doesnt work because of a lack of interest in the Sellers OR the Sellers lender to make it work, you should be entitled to your deposit back. You hopefully have good documentation and you have your contingencies as your protection. Refunding a deposit still requires BOTH the buyer and seller to sign the escrow paperwork releasing the deposit and cancelling the transaction. I hope that your Buyers Agent limited the amount of deposit you put into escrow prior to having the written approval. There was a form that allowed your deposit to be withheld until your short pay approval (written) was given to you. Hopefully, that was how your deposit was attended to. If not, know for next time that you can work your deposit this way. If you have trouble getting the Seller to release your deposit, you probably have signed the arbitration and mediation clauses in your contract and will be subject to this delay. In order to avoid it, you might offer a small amount to the Seller to sign now and release now. Of course, you may want to seek legal assistance if it comes to this. Hopefully, one of the other options will be available to you. Also, if you are using a Realtor, you may be online seeking answers because you are not sure that you are getting the assistance that you need. Realtors have brokers, you could try to get assistance with the broker intervening on your behalf if you think your Realtor is not as knowledgeable as you had hoped. Good Luck. Short pays can be a great deal but they are sometimes a bit risky. take care,