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Reardon Anderson recently obtained a ruling on behalf of its client ordering Toll Brothers to return improperly held deposit monies. The case involved Reardon Anderson’s clients pay a substantial deposit to Toll Brothers in connection with the construction and purchase of a new home. Reardon Anderson’s clients were unable to close on the purchase and sought the return of their deposit pursuant to the Contract of Sale. Toll initially refused to return the deposit monies. After trying the case, an award was issued requiring Toll Brothers to refund a substantial portion of the deposit monies paid by Reardon Anderson’s clients. In this matter, the Buyers entered into a Contract with Toll Brothers to purchase a home which was being constructed at the Estates at Bamm Hollow. That Contract provided, in part, that the Buyers would be obtaining a mortgage to purchase the newly constructed home. Following the execution of the Contract, due to circumstances beyond their control, the Buyers were unable to secure a mortgage. Accordingly, the Buyers sought to cancel the Contract and have their substantial deposit returned. Toll Brothers refused. Upon Reardon Anderson’s becoming involved with this matter, an attempt was made to resolve the case. Toll Brothers was not receptive to those discussions. Pursuant to the Contract, the matter was tried through binding arbitration. After trying the case, the Arbitrator entered an award in favor of Reardon Anderson’s client. In rendering its award, the Arbitrator noted that Toll Brothers’ form Contract had an unenforceable provision concerning liquidated damages. Specifically, the Contract provided that no matter how much money was paid through the deposit, in the event the sale fell through, Toll Brothers would be entitled to keep all of the deposit monies. The Arbitrator found that this was an unenforceable penalty and ruled that Toll Brothers was only entitled to actual damages it sustained. In this case, the actual damages sustained by Toll Brothers was significantly less than the deposit provided. Often, homebuilders require customers to sign contracts which only benefits the builder. It is not uncommon when deals fall through that homebuilders attempt to bully the customer and refuses to return deposit monies. If you are facing a similar problem, contact Reardon Anderson for a free consultation.
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