Glad you liked my answer, Phil. Hope Merrill has gotten his deposit back by now!
Need a little more info to give precise advice, but in general, if you as the buyer performed the terms of the contract (got inspection, applied for mortgage, lender ordered appraisal), and the contract fell out due to a seller deficiency such as inspection issue or low appraisal, you should get a prompt refund of your earnest money. If you as the buyer “changed your mind”, or failed to apply for a mortgage in a timely fashion, you may have less of a claim to the earnest money. If you cannot get a straight answer from the agent regarding the return of your deposit, talk with his/her broker and ask exactly when it will be returned, or, if it’s not going to be returned, exactly why. May be good to have this conversation via email to have a precise record of it in case you end up in litigation over the return. As a last resort, you may want to call your state real estate board and get them involved as they license real estate agents. Hope this helps!
Ted gave a pretty thorough answer to the question but he is right that the details are important. Release of the earnest money deposit also sometimes depends partly on whether both parties signed a release to the contract or agreement you had to buy the home. If there is an ongoing dispute about whether you followed through on your responsibilities under the contract the company holding the escrowed funds may be unable to release the funds until any dispute is resolved. however, at a minimum they should provide you an explanation for why the funds have not been released.
If you continue having trouble you can follow up with the Broker in Charge at the real estate company you were working with, or as suggested previously the state real estate board. Another option is to ask your attorney to make a phone call on your behalf – nothing like the threat of legal action to get someone’s attention.