Michael J. Perry, Lancaster, PA   Relo Specialist (KW Elite )

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Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Depends on who is holding the funds and the wording in the contract. Interpleader, mediation and and arbitration are most common!

Feb 08, 2016 10:42 PM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

Per the contract, the Title & Escrow company has sole discretion.  No time frame stipulated.

Feb 08, 2016 10:14 PM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Sometimes lawyers and judges make these decisions.

May 12, 2019 08:32 PM
David Gibson CNE, 719-304-4684 ~ Colorado Springs Relocation
Colorado Real Estate Advisers LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Relocation, Luxury & Lifestyle residential

Several years ago Texas put in the contract that the party who failed to release earnest money (and was wrong) was subject to triple damages AND attorney fees. That solved almost all EM disputes.

Feb 11, 2016 08:22 AM
Sandy Padula & Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Florida Realty Investments - , CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

We need to notify the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) within 2 weeks to notify them of an escrow dispute. It then does to mediation, arbitration and if no agreement and compliance, then to a FREC Committee to review and final decision.

Feb 10, 2016 10:06 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Mediation first, then to court.   

Feb 10, 2016 06:41 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

It depends on the circumstances to some degree. If buyer defaults the seller may have the right to the deposit. 

Feb 09, 2016 07:53 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Michael J. Perry - it's an attorney question - though I have seen the escrow office keeping money in a separate account until the issue is resolved mutually by both buyers and sellers.

Feb 09, 2016 11:47 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@Properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

If the parties can't agree, it goes to court and the loser pays everybody's legal fees.  That legal fee things tends to make people get really reasonable, and we can usually get an agreement.

Feb 09, 2016 11:01 AM
Evelyn M Epperson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Johns Creek, GA
A Tradition Of [Excellence, Trust & Service]

This has happened to me.  My broker got involved and if the buyers defaulted the earnest money goes to the seller.  

Feb 09, 2016 09:33 AM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Yes, 30 days and then court

Feb 09, 2016 05:21 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!


Feb 09, 2016 04:45 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Depends on the contract, but if both parties did not sign a cancellation and a full return of EMD, it will be held in Escrow till the conflict is resolved. 

Feb 09, 2016 04:35 AM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Once both parties have agreed to the cancellation and release of funds, the escrow agent is free to disperse the funds as agreed.

Feb 09, 2016 03:42 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

There could be default on the agreement (non-performance) before all contingencies are removed. This question is simply too over-broad and a blanket answer may not apply.

Feb 09, 2016 03:30 AM
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA
https://HugginsHomes.com - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

Depends on the contract and why they backed out.  The seller could be entitled to the EMD.

Feb 09, 2016 02:00 AM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

the money stays in escrow until they agree or they sue us for the deposit...at that time, we need to hire our attorney to turn it over to the clerk of courts...they go to court and fight over it....

Feb 09, 2016 01:17 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

We have interpleader before it would become a lawsuit.

Feb 09, 2016 12:04 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Sellers get to keep it. Can try a third party to moderate it but it is often not productive.

Feb 08, 2016 11:46 PM
Joan Dickie
Keller Williams Premier Realty - La Crosse, WI
Keller Williams Premier Realty

In WI, If the parties can't agree, the broker has to hold for a certain amount of days, then can petition court for dispersal, taking fees out of earnest money.

Feb 08, 2016 11:38 PM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

     Most Florida Brokers give the deposit to a Title Company or Title Attorney.  (We Brokers don't want an escrow account audit by the DBPR/Florida Real Estate Commission).

     The Title Attorney holding the deposit will require both parties to sign a release before they refund it to the Buyer, or award it to the Seller.  If one party refuses to sign, the Title Company will not release the deposit.  The parties will then have to "lawyer up", and possibly go to Court.


Feb 08, 2016 11:37 PM
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

AZ Residential Purchase Contract = escrow gets to make the final call, should there be a breach and the parties don't mutually agree.
Various CRE Contracts spell it out as the parties and their attorneys agree.
We have had what I consider a bad call via escrow in the past, so I want to see terms spelled out explicitly and critical dates hit ahead of schedule.

Feb 08, 2016 10:33 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

If they don't agree the escrow holder has to make a determination based on the contract's default language. If they still can't then an interpleader motion is filed with the court and the judge decides.

Feb 08, 2016 10:31 PM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

When both parties do not agree a title company will hold the earnest money until a court decides.

Feb 08, 2016 10:28 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Michael J. Perry Should a buyer or seller not sign a release, we are required to notified the non signing part in writing by certified mail. After 30 days of receipt, it will be up to the Judge to determine who gets the EMD. This takes it out of the hands of the Broker and transfers it to the Court.

Feb 08, 2016 10:12 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

The answer is too long for this space.

Feb 08, 2016 10:07 PM
Greg Cremia
Shore Realty of the Outer Banks - Nags Head, NC

After the time frame is up we send the money to the clerk of court to hold and they fight over it there.

Feb 08, 2016 10:05 PM