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New home deposit held by builder. Texas

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  • New home deposit held by builder. Texas

    I put a very large deposit(listed as deposit on contract, NOT earnest money) down, paid directly to the builder. I know, stupid in hind site.

    Was for a "cost plus" new home. We had a serious dispute on the cost number and I moved forward with going to closing with my calculated cost, but the builder never went to closing and verbally refused to sell to me at my calculated cost.

    After that, I phoned him and informed him that I wanted my deposit back and he said that because of financial struggles, he just didn't have it.

    Now he has listed the house for sale but has still not given me my deposit back. The price he has the house listed at is extremely high for the area and it will not sell, so it's going to continue sitting.

    I know contractors can file liens, which I see as very effective because a house can't close without the liens being taken care of, but what is the remedy for a non-contractor, i.e. me the buyer?? I am very comfortable with filing at my county courthouse, know the process, etc. I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO FILE THAT WILL BE EFFECTIVE.

    Addition info: The builder continues to sell lots and spec home in the development, so even though he is having so-called financial troubles, he is bringing in revenue. Is there some way to put a lien on all properties until give me the deposit back or at least starts paying it down??

    My wife and I have a good chunk of our savings involved here and we can't afford sit down with attorneys wanting quoted rates of $180-$250 an hour as we just can't afford much, so I am trying to do everything within my power personally before going the attorney route.

    I appreciate all advice, but please DO NOT lecture me on what I should have done. I feel stupid enough. I need advice on what to do GOING FORWARD.

    Thanks very much.

  • #2
    What did you get for paperwork when you put down the money? Did it include a price?

    Your builder does not get to keep your money without penalty. You really do need a lawyer... and include legal costs in your settlement.

    Here is what I would do. Call the builder. Tell him that he has two options. You either get the house at a reasonable price or you will get a lawyer, put a lien on the house for your deposit plus interest plus legal fees plus punitive damages.

    Tell the builder that the first thing you will do when you obtain a lawyer is to stop the sale of the house until the matter goes to court. This should get the builder's attention.

    It will ultimately be cheaper for the builder to just sell you the house.
    Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

    I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

    Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.


    • #3
      I got a standard Texas cost-plus real estate contract. It did have an estimated price which was higher but that was because the size of the house was estimated to be higher. The final sq footage was much less so the house cost decrease accordingly.

      I understand your reponse, but I have already been down the road with the builder on what the cost was, what I would give him and we were at about 40k difference. He simply stated to me he didn't have the money to pay the difference and actually wanted to get rid of the house because he has a construction loan on it and is paying heavy interest.

      At this point, months later and after a 1 year design/build process, I don't want the house, I want my deposit back. I am closing on a different house in a few weeks.

      So the real question becomes, how do I get my deposit back and what do I file on that property and/or other properties in the subdivision to make sure that when he makes a sale, he has to deal with me?