If our buyer has breached our purchase agreement but failed to provide earnest money, is there any way that I can compel the buyer to pay?

UPDATED: May 16, 2011

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If our buyer has breached our purchase agreement but failed to provide earnest money, is there any way that I can compel the buyer to pay?

My realtor, who is representing both of us, said that even though she breached the purchase agreement, there is no way to get the earnest money from the buyer. This seems strange to me because why would it be included in an agreement if it was unenforceable. I am beginning to think that he is protecting the buyer. The buyer is backing out due to an inspection that was conducted after the reasonable time clause that was included in the contract.

Asked on May 16, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If there was a signed contract, you may sue to enforce it. Depending on the circumstances under which the buyer breached, you may be able to seek specific performance (e.g. to force the sale of the home) or at least to get monetary damages or compensation (such as to keep the specified amount of earnest money). Clauses in a contract *are* enforceable, no matter what your realtor says; if your realtor is double-dealing you, it may be possible to sue her as well. You should consult with a real estate attorney to evaluate the strength and value of your case, and the possible recourse you can seek. Bring with you the contract of sale and all correspondence regarding the sale of your home. Good luck.

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