Escrow Deposit Disputes

A real estate sales contract will usually require an earnest money deposit that shows the buyer’s interest in purchasing the property while the closing details are being negotiated. This earnest money is deposited in an escrow account or a trust account, and is later applied to the total purchase price.

If the transaction is executed, the earnest money can be released with the consent of both buyer and seller. However, if a sale is cancelled, and the buyer did not keep to the terms of the contract then a seller can keep the earnest money. Often, if a seller retains the earnest money, a dispute will arise.

The Florida Statues and Administrative Rules provide procedures on how disputes should be handled. Meanwhile, the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) dictates the action of brokers with regards to escrow disputes.

Florida Statute requires the broker to return the escrow at the time dictated by the law. But if he or she doubts if the recipient is entitled to it, the broker should immediately notify the FREC. He or she is then given thirty business days to begin settlement procedures that will determine who the escrow deposit shall be released to.

During a dispute, both buyer and seller should hire an experienced attorney to represent their escrow interest.