Real estate brokers can find themselves in the middle of a deposit return squabble like wrestling with a Maine black bear over a jelly filled day old donut..when deal goes south. Both parties can get further entrenched with finger pointing and accusations that would make a pirate blush as time marches on and deposit is just sitting in a trust account. Some buyers and sellers go on and on thru court systems while Joe Broker who can not get a release of deposit signed off by both parties waits in the wings for mutual attorney instructions on what to do with the deposit. Many times, after parties go thru several sets of attorneys that get hired and fired along the way, the final outcome is dismissal of case in court with neither party found at fault. Each party signs off with or without prejudice and finally you as the broker are done..cut and dry right? Noooo...make sure the courts indicate what was suppose to happen with that deposit, clearly spelled out so you can take steps to do the appropiate release. If it is not a clear cut case of clear title or bank financing for contingencies but more involved, then the issues surrounding the extra layer of what each party expects from the other makes the matter hot and contested. Remember both parties involved are not attorneys, that they don't usually deal every day like a broker, attorney and banker. So there is a ripe breeding ground for misunderstanding, flared emotions and fatigue as it drags out in the slow moving wheels of justice. Small claims for small deposits are easier to resolve and utilize an arbitrator. Mediate...don't litigate is taking the high road and so much more productive. In small claims court, all the defendants and plaintiffs gather before the judge, and one by one their cases are called to make sure both parties are present. If one is missing, the judge rules in favor of the one that showed up and makes a judgement reward that is put on the record. If both are present, if no resolution is forthcoming right then and there, you are instructed to wander down the hall for an arbitrator to hear both sides and help craft a solution so parties can get on with their life. Many times, by this time when you may be at the two year mark, with no resolution that satisfies either party, a mountain of legal bills and this issue stick stuck in your craw, it has come time to end it. The arbitrator is part of the $55 filing costs. He or she is one of 70 professionally designated Maine people that help work to a resoultion...many times with a compromise where neither party is happy...but it gets resolved. Unless you like being the star on Judge Judy and the drama of keeping it going, you can be done, signed off and back on the road of life within an hour or two. It helps if both parties are ready to resolve this issue that has been hanging...sometimes both parties are just tired and have new issues to worry about today. If as a broker you have a sizable deposit, you may wish to implede the court to let you hand it over to a judge and to pull back and get on with your day to day of peddling property. This is when you have done your job and both parties are mad at each other but have no axe to grind with the broker. This eliminates the every few month visits from both parties indicating what a jerk the other is and keeping the roller coast rolling with you in the middle of the front seat trying to hang on to your lunch. It allows you to get some other productive work done that helps you buy groceries, gas, heating oil and other luxuries like that.
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