Real Estate: Florida/refund of earnest money


We were buying a new house near Jacksonville, when we looked at the house we wanted tile and a fence. The sellers representative added the tile and fence before we settled on a price for the house. (There was no flooring installed at that point, and no landscaping had been done outside.)
We deposited 9700 dollars in two certified checks as earnest money.We did not sign any thing which gave the builder permission to keep our money in the event that we could not secure financing.The day before closing we were told we could not finance the house. The builder has not returned our money even though our bank sent them a denial letter. We would like to know what the law is in this situation.

I am very sorry you are experiencing this situation.  This really comes down to the language in the purchase contract.  

You say you did not sign anything giving the builder the right to keep your escrow deposit but I imagine you signed a purchase contract? Have you read the contract?  It would be highly unusual for a builder's contract not to include a financing contingency as well as an option contingency explaining when you have the right to get your escrow back and when you lose your escrow.

Since I do not have a copy of the contract it is hard for me to advise you.  The law would be based on the language of the contract.  I suggest you get an attorney to advise you. I have contacts here in Orlando or you can find one in Jacksonville.

Also, I tell all my clients to have their own representation when buying new construction. It is a too late for that in your situation but good representation would have made it clear to you when your deposit is at risk.

Get an attorney quickly...most well known builders do not want the bad press about keeping the escrow and many small builders will stonewall you thinking you will just give up.  

I know I am not giving you the quick, definitive answer but hope this helps a little.  

Real Estate: Florida

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Steve Schiffer


Questions about buying, selling, renting or investing in residential and small commercial real estate.


Licensed real estate agent since 2003

Orlando Regional Real Estate Associate (ORRA)

WKMG Channel 6


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Voted Orlando Magazine Hot Realtor in '06 & '07

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