What are my rights to earnest money regarding the sale of my house?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are my rights to earnest money regarding the sale of my house?

An investor recently made an offer on my house. As part of the agreement, $1800 in earnest money was put forth by the investor. After bringing his partners through my property, they decided not to purchase the property. The investor did not release the earnest money to me and is now keeping it for himself. Is this legal? Do I have any recourse?

Asked on August 7, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not legal: if the would-be-buyer pulls out of the sale, then the seller gets to keep the earnest money. If he will not voluntarily release it as he should, you can sue him for the money in order to get a court order requiring its release--unfortunately, it can only be released with his consent or by court order.

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