Realtor Won't Return my Earnest Money Deposit - EMD

9 Replies

So, I wrote an offer for a house that didn't get accepted, I tried to contact my realtor several times, and she's just ignoring me.

The check was for $2000 and was made out to a title company. I guess I could pay my bank to cancel the check, but I rather not.

Is there anything else I could do?

Hi Bruce,

A few things to try:

1. Call the title company and ask where your earnest money deposit is and ask for it to be returned if they are holding it.

2. Call the REALTORS brokerage office and demand to speak with the head broker about where your earnest money check is and that it be returned.

3. If number 2 does not answer to your satisfaction then tell them you will be calling their state real estate commission about what happened with your earnest money.

If the REALTOR is holding your check or misplaced it they are not supposed to do that and it should be a real estate commission violation. Your purchase offer should explain who is holding the earnest money and under what conditions it will be returned to you and what type of account it is held in and whether that is interest bearing or not and who retains the interest on the money.

With future offers it would be better to put under the earnest money section (upon written acceptance) in the purchase and sale offer. This means unless the offer is accepted in writing you do not give the earnest money to be held. This way you do not have to give an earnest money check every time you submit an offer but only if you go under contract.

Hope it helps.

And just to be safe I would cancel the check first


If your offer was not accepted, the title company would not have received your earnest money check. The title company only accepts earnest money for executed contracts (both party has a written and signed agreement to buy and sell). If your offer wasn't accepted then the check would probably be in the possession of the realtor or realtors office. I would call the broker of the firm to inquire about the check and let them know what the situation about reaching your realtor has been. In either case, I would go ahead and put a stop payment on the check after making sure it has not cleared your account.

As a side note, real estate contracts are (at least in Texas) promulgated by a broker lawyer committee and filled in by realtors. So, there may not be a place in the earnest money section to put restrictions on when or how it is to be used if it isn't already in the contract. Most realtors will try to negotiate a deal before providing the earnest money along with the contract, but in a multiple offer situation that may not be the case.

Contacting the real estate commission is always an option, but I would trying and communicate the situation to the broker (many times they don't know the situation) but will very quickly get your issue resolved.

Good luck,

Thanks you guys!
I *67 the realtor and she told me that it will be dropped off in the mail today. I will give her until Tuesday, if not I will go ahead and contact the broker.

The check is made out to Ticor Title with the address of the property I made the offer on. I'm assuming the only person that can cash it is the title co. I can't imagine them trying to cash it out.

Unreturned calls about your check are not OK. Absolutely call the supervising broker. Have you tried both emailing and texting the agent? A lot of people have lost the ability to return calls (or never had it) but do respond to emails and texts because it's right in front of them.

I gotta say that agents not returning calls is working in my favor these days. Sellers are calling me after trying to find an agent to list their property but they aren't getting return calls. A lot of seniors don't have email and expect prompt return calls from business "professionals". Not sure why so many agents are screwing up on this.

Bruce ask the Realtor to send you a POF (proof of mailing) that it has been sent back.

Give written correspondence to the brokerage so that you have a document on file. Do not wait for Tuesday on this. You have a paper trial in case the Realtor does not do what they are saying they will do by the time they are saying it.

They can't just walk around with a check from you in their pocket and "get around sometime" to returning it to you. The state real estate commission will have rules and timelines on where the money is to be held and how fast it has to be returned or deposited in the held account.

People! This is being way overblown for a piece of paper bearing your name on it. A simple stop order with your bank would have rendered this paper useless. You know the money hasn't left your bank account yet right? If you are having trust issues, communication issues or c)all of the above with your realtor, its time to dump them and find someone you are more comfortable with. After all, your realtor is supposed to be part of your "real estate team." I usually include a scan of the check with my offer as proof of EMD. If the offer gets accepted, my realtor gets the check immediately after and delivers it same or next day. Sometimes I even have them just rip up a check if an offer is not accepted. do what works for you....

Finally an anecdote: I put down a 4 digit EMD on a short sale last march. offer ratified, check deposited by title co. fast forward to closing time: Seller fled the country. takes me 10 months and countless visits to small claims court to get a court order to permit escrow/ title co. to release my EMD back to me. All because the sellers weren't around to sign a EMD release form. Just got a judgement last week (victory dance!) THAT is a real EMD predicament with real money being held up...

Just got my check back from my realtor, I just had to keep pressing her.

In the future, I will under the earnest money section "upon written acceptance". Thanks Joel!

No problem Bruce I am glad I could help. Hope you land a great deal soon!

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