Not all short sales work out, we agents know that. However, it agitates me and the buyer greatly when the listing agent will not make it a priority to get the earnest deposit release signed. I am writing this post in Gulf Shores, while dealing once again with the frustration of a listing agent taking way too much time to get the seller's signature on the earnest deposit release form.
I have lost a client previously over this issue because in the eyes of the client we are holding his earnest deposit, and I should be able to get it back to him. My hands are tied because the rules of the Alabama Real Estate Commission require both the buyer's and seller's signatures. I have been calling and emailing the listing agent with no response. I understand this agent is busy (aren't we all?!), but please let's be professional and get the release signed in a timely manner. Next time, the shoe may be on the other foot, and this agent will be anxiously waiting for a seller's signature.
Rules for releasing an earnest-money deposit are governed by the state licensing regulations. I know that each state has its own set of rules, but I'm sure most, if not all, state's earnest money releases require signatures of the buyer and seller. I'm also aware that agents cannot force anyone to sign a document, and if there is a true dispute over whether the earnest money deposit is owed to the buyer, it is out of our hands and the buyer or seller may initiate a lawsuit or civil action. By the way, there is a very good article written by Charles Sowell, General Counsel for the Alabama Real Estate Commission, on the subject of earnest money disputes posted online.
Short sales can be "long" in time and patience, and I urge my follow agents not to add stress to the situation by being lax in getting required signatures. The best real estate rule of all is the Golden Rule - - let's try to follow it!