It is not common that a seller keeps a buyer's earnest money, but it happens on occasion. In this case, the earnest money was well deserved.
We listed the lovely golf course home of a retired couple who were looking to move closer to their grand children. We received a cash offer from a lawyer with a $5,000 earnest deposit. This lawyer had previously called us anonymously asking for information about the property and then wrote an offer through another agent. Neither the lawyer nor his buyer's agent disclosed that the lawyer was married or that his wife did not know that he was buying this house.
The lawyer had a home inspection and sent a Buyer's Inspection Notice requesting certain repairs to be made. Also during this time, the lawyer's wife called us, extremely angry, and stated that her husband was not buying this house. We respectfully told her that we did not represent her husband and that she should contact the buyer's agent.
The next day, the lawyer sent a cancellation letter directly to the title company, without going through his agent. We had the sellers sign the Buyer's Inspection Notice, agreeing to make the requested repairs. The lawyer had no basis for cancelling the contract. We drafted a letter to the title company identifying each pertinent line item in the contract and the $5,000 earnest money was awarded to our clients.