Deposit gone AWOL, Foundation issues


Dear David,

We just sold our home in a multiple offer situation, but the buyer hasn’t brought their deposit. What happens now?  – UNSURE

 DEAR UNSURE: All real estate contracts involve time limits. When a buyer and seller reach an acceptable purchase agreement, the buyer has 24 hours to deliver their deposit to the listing brokerage. In a case of multiple offers, buyers are often encouraged to provide their deposits upfront as a sign of good faith to the seller (and to avoid this exact situation).

Your buyer may have gotten cold feet, but they can’t get out of an accepted deal by refusing to pay the deposit. If a buyer fails to provide a deposit, the seller is entitled to re-sell their property (once they have the go-ahead from their lawyer). If they get less money than they did in the previous agreement (with the buyer who defaulted on the deposit), they may be able to sue that buyer for the difference.

As mentioned, time is of the essence. If a buyer delivers their deposit even a few minutes past deadline, the seller (at their discretion) may have the right to cancel the deal. If a buyer anticipates needing extra time to deliver their deposit, it’s important that they have that written into their offer.


Dear David,

We bought a house with foundation issues and opted to fix them at a later date. The repair quotes have been between $30,000-$40,000. We are planning on selling in 5 years. Should we fix the problem beforehand, or sell as-is, knowing there will be a $40,000 deduction off the listing price? Will an issue like this keep us from being competitive?


 DEAR FOUNDATION PROBLEMS: This is a tough question to answer without knowing a few more details. Suffice it to say, an issue like this is more likely to be a big deal if the repair cost makes up a significant part of the overall value of the home.

Consider this: a $40,000 repair on a $200,000 property would likely be a deal breaker. In a case like this, you’d be well advised to have the repairs done before listing, as a buyer in this range may not have the available liquid funds. The same repair on a $750,000 property is likely be more manageable for an average buyer in that price range, which means you may be able to put off having the work done.

If you choose not to make the repairs before selling, you’ll need to be upfront about disclosing the problem when you list. Have your repair estimates handy so buyers can fully understand the work will that will be required. If your home is priced accordingly (with an appropriate reduction, as you suggest), I expect it will sell. Admittedly, the “issue” may give pause to some potential buyers and end up costing you in the end. For that reason, I suggest you fixing the foundation if you can.