3 seller responses to canceled home purchase

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Q: What is the best route to go if the buyers lose their jobs prior to closing and cannot qualify for the mortgage? The people who were planning to buy our home put down a substantial amount of earnest money, and also began maintaining our yard. They spent $2,500 to clear trees downed by Hurricane Irene. Then, they backed out of the deal three days before closing! We don't feel obligated to return any of that money. What rights do we have? --Mary, North Carolina A: I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. If it helps at all to know that you're not alone, a survey just released by the National Association of Realtors revealed that 33 percent of the trade group's members reported transactions in which the contracts had been canceled, most often because the seller's bank doesn't approve the short sale, the home doesn't appraise at the purchase price, or the buyer's financing falls through. What the numbers don't show is the emotional and lifestyle chaos that is caused ...