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In order for the deposit to be non-refundable, there had to have been a contractual agreement where you and the seller agreed upon all the terms and conditions of the purchase, including the issue of whether or not the deposit was refundable, to show that there was a full accord and satisfaction between the two of you. This was not present in your case so there can be no default by you; further, the seller has suffered no damages because the seller still has the boat and can sell it to another buyer. So, for the seller to retain the deposit would also unjustly enrich the seller. If the seller won't voluntarily refund your money voluntarily, you will want to file a suit against the seller. You can do this in small claims
court without an attorney. Filing the suit will give you the collection options and leverage you need to collect the debt owed you. That's because once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor
, and if he doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on him for a debtor examination. That forces him to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about his assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property he owns to satisfy the judgment. In my experience, simply filing the suit is typically all you need to do to resolve this outside of court because most of the time, once served with a summons one is being sued, your debtor will likely refund your money to avoid the cost and expense of defending a suit he's sure to lose.
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