What Is Earnest Money?

by John Fritz 01/27/2020

Photo by Mercigod via Shutterstock

Earnest money is the amount of money put down for a large purchase. While this is not limited to real estate, it is used frequently in the real estate industry. It’s a sign of good faith from the buyer to the seller and normally constitutes about 1%-5% of the home’s price.

How much do you deposit?

There is no set amount for how much you can put down in your earnest account. However, the more money you put into these accounts, the more likely you are to be taken seriously by the seller.

Who gets the money?

Property laws in most states have strict regulations for who holds the money. Most often a third-party escrow company, title company or sometimes the buyer’s broker opens a trust account to hold the funds until completion or dissolution of the sales contract. At that point, the funds go to wherever the contract specifies. That could be back to the buyer or forfeited to the seller. In some cases, the earnest money might go to the real estate agent. If the sale goes through, the funds go toward the buyer’s costs in the transaction, and it appears as a credit on the settlement statement.

To protect yourself from forfeiting earnest money, be fully prepared to complete the sales transaction. Have a pre-qualification letter from your lender, set aside funds for the down payment and closing, and provide the lender, escrow officer, title company and all other interested parties with the information they need for a timely close.

If you wonder about how much earnest money to include, your best resource is your knowledgeable real estate professional.

About the Author
Author

John Fritz

As your REALTOR I will be an added value to your real estate experience that you will not get any other way. A home seller can trust that your home will be sold in the least amount time and for the highest possible price that the market will bear. A buyer will get professional assistance in finding your home and guiding you thru the whole complicated process of buying your dream home. The goal is to bring about a smooth Real Estate experience for you by being effective, efficient and calm for all of my clients.
In your service, John C. Fritz