$5,000 returned to family whose ‘dream house’ fell through

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NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- A family who called CBS4 Problem Solvers for help say they finally received their $5,000 down payment back.

Last month, Nelsen Leo showed CBS4 paperwork and documentation of the new house he thought would be the next step for his family.

Leo and his wife had signed a contract with Ryan Homes to build their dream home in Hamilton County. Shortly after they signed, though, Leo's employment changed and five different lenders ended up denying his mortgage applications.

Leo thought he would receive his $5,000 in earnest money back, because he'd tried to get a mortgage, but said the company had refused to return it, claiming he was in breach of their contract.

"I cannot move forward and I cannot move backwards, because they have my money," Leo said at the time.

After Leo spoke to CBS4 Problem Solvers, the company offered to give his money back, but wanted him to sign a mutual release which included a non-disclosure clause, effectively stopping the story. Leo refused.

Shotly after the story aired, Leo said Ryan Homes agreed to take out the clause, and he signed a mutual release and received his money back, but not before he spent $500 on an attorney.

"I wish they would’ve just (done) that in the first place. I wish I didn’t have to go through all this getting media involved," Leo said.

Leo said he won't do business with Ryan Homes again, and he learned a valuable lesson. Experts suggest that before you sign a contract to buy a home, you get pre-approved for a mortgage in writing by at least three different companies.

"I hope I have helped (others) ... that want to buy a home that they need to do their research," Leo said. "They know now that I am not going to back down and thanks to CBS4 Problem Solvers."

Leo and his wife were able to find a new home for less money, and they expected to close on it in February.

"It's a big relief," Leo said. "It's a big stress relief."

You can read more tips for buying a home at the Attorney General's website here.

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