Buyer Negotiating Partial Refund of Deposit

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I’m the Listing Agent. According to my Seller’s lawyer, the Buyer has changed his mind and doesn’t want to close… and would like half the deposit back! Should we be looking for a Litigation lawyer?


Anyone who offers half the deposit already knows that they owe the entire deposit, so, they’ll fold.

Real estate conveyancing (in-office paperwork) and Litigation are really two separate and distinct professions. They are not the same at all. Not every doctor does surgery. When it comes to litigation, it’s better to have someone who actually goes to Court. You don’t want someone who is intimidated by the Court system. A well drafted claim, properly presented, with scheduled attendances for discoveries and motions will advance the case and result in a satisfactory conclusion. 

If you are working with a lawyer who has never left the office, that’s not good. Your case, no matter what the merits, isn’t really going anywhere.

You need to have a motion for Judgment in the case of the deposit. That’s fine if you have a $25,000 deposit, but it’s a worthless remedy with a $1,000 (token of good/bad faith) deposit. Now, whose fault was that?

For those that pursue litigation with a good case, there’s usually a good result. Now, if there’s a problem collecting from the other party, this is prime time to consider adding others to the lawsuit, ie. the real estate agent(s). The Judgment can be renewed for 20 years. That’s a long time for someone, never to have any money. It’s easier to just pay the claim. This is the time to be aggressive with collection techniques. Very few people will consider going bankrupt for amounts less than $50,000.

In England, there’s a clear distinction between Barristers and Solicitors. You need a Court room lawyer for this type of issue. So, hire a real Trial Lawyer and you are “good to go”. Hire a person who has never gone to Court, and you are wasting your time and your money and eventually you will be disillusioned about the system.

Yes, one more thing, real Trial Lawyers are expensive, but if you are looking for success, then hire a professional (just like real estate).

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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