I am a member of the State Bar of California, the Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside Counties), and the California and National Associations of Realtors.
Contact the sheriff's department in the county where the buyer resides (presumably where your house was located). Tell them that the person issued a bad check to you. The sheriff will threaten to arrest and prosecute unless the money is paid immediately.
The law requires that the person who issued the check intend not to pay at the time that the check is tendered for payment. Usually, the proof is that the account is overdrawn on the same date.
If the sheriff's office declines to get involved, then you'll have to sue the person -- which probably won't be worth it, unless the amount in controversy is more than $10,000 (greater than California small claims court jurisdiction). You can't sue in NC court, so unless you're planning to return to California or hire a lawyer to represent you in court, then you may have to "throw in the towel" -- again, assuming that the sheriff won't get involved.
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