It is a very rare occurrence where a buyer wants to cancel the sale after releasing all contingencies because they know they could potentially lose their deposit. Would they give up a five-figure or six-figure deposit easily, or fight it out with the seller? If they fight, then the property gets hung up in litigation and can’t be sold, and most sellers want to get on with the sale. Because in almost every case, the buyer will get his deposit back one way or another, should we just quit collecting them as part of the sale?
According to CAR – we don’t need a deposit to have a binding contract:
Q: Must a buyer give a good faith deposit in a purchase agreement for there to be “consideration” to make it a binding contract?
A: No. The buyer’s good faith deposit in a real estate purchase agreement has no legal significance. It is not required as consideration for the contract because the purchase agreement is a bilateral contract and the mutual promises of the parties serve as adequate consideration to make the contract binding and enforceable on both parties. (Bleecher v. Conte, 29 Cal. 3d 345, 350 (1981).)
Under the C.A.R. purchase agreements, if a contract is entered into and the buyer fails to make the good faith deposit as agreed to, the seller cannot simply cancel. Instead, the seller must go through the procedure of issuing a Notice to Buyer to Perform and giving the buyer adequate time to perform, and only then can the seller issue a cancellation.