Earnest refund

A New Home Owner asks:

My husband and I moved to Austin a little over a year ago from Dallas where we lived for 26 years. We are two level headed people who may have made a terrible mistake when looking to buy a home here in Austin. After looking for months we thought it would be best to build a home. Back on July 13, 2008 we entered into a contract to build a new home with Ryland Homes and put down $5,000.00 in earnest money. We should have listen to our instinct that this was not right for us to do since the Sales Counselor was extremely pushy. Within the week we went to the design center to determine the price list giving to us by the Sales Counselor was incorrect. The upgrades where going to be close to $40,000.00.  One week from the date we signed the contract we decide this was not a good deal for us and told the Sales Counselor we did not want to pursue and we request the earnest money to be reimbursed. Nothing was done on the property no permits, no survey, not even a sold sign was placed on the property. On August 8, 2008 we received a letter from the Controller of Ryland Homes stating they would hold our money in escrow up to a year to apply to the purchase of a Ryland Home at a later date but they would not refund any part to us. We have tried to contact the Controller on several occasions to talk with him about reimbursement of the earnest money but we cannot get him to return our calls. We sent an e-mail to the Sales Counselor in regards to our concern and he told us he could not help us and he would forward our e-mail to the Controller. We have heard nothing in regard to our concerns.

We have learned a very expensive lesson.

Is this a matter your organization could assist us with? Any
consideration would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time.


Kris Responds:

Hello Kathryn:

What a frustrating experience!  We provide mediations to parties involved in disputed earnest money frequently.  Often agreements are worked out with some or all monies returned.  Other times, parties ‘dig in’ and are unable to reach a solution.   What we can do is give you a chance to try an inexpensive alternative solution.  It will require a call by you to one of our case managers who will proceed to set a date and time with a qualified mediator; then they will contact the Home Builders Company to solicit their willingness to participate.  It is a voluntary process and does not usurp either yours or the Builder’s right to proceed to court.  However, mediation is often a more successful, satisfying and certainly much less expensive option to try.  (If you live in Travis County, the entire mediation will only cost you $35.00)

Give the case managers a call at 371-0033 and let them do their best.

Thank you for writing and good luck!!