Where Does My Earnest Money Go?

Many homeowners who want to buy property offer a certain amount of earnest money or hand money to the property sellers. Typically, earnest money is the deposit that a buyer pays to the seller so that the latter will hold the property he/she intends to buy. Depending on which state the deal is taking place in, the earnest money deposit check might be kept in escrow accounts that are non-interest-bearing. They will be held here till the related deals reach closure.

Generally, the earnest money check is applied to down payments for the property sale & closing costs requirements. A real estate earnest money deposit check & the manner in which it is applied is based on the purchase agreements that the deposit supports. Generally, real-estate purchase agreements have all the details noting what will happen to the earnest money deposit that the buyer has made, under different scenarios.

Earnest Money Amounts

In very hot markets, most real estate agents recommend that the earnest money deposits should be for 2-3% of the actual offer that is being made. In slower markets, the earnest money deposits that sellers ask can be significantly lower. Deposits of $10,000 and above come with bank & lender reporting requirements & are not really advisable. It must be understood that when you tie up a large amount of money in this manner, you will not be earning any interest on it.

Earnest Money Refunds

At times, property sellers & buyers make incorrect assumptions about these deposits. Some property sellers also mistakenly believe that if a sale fails, it automatically gives them a right to the earnest money check. Similarly, some buyers presume that even if the deal fails, they will get back all their earnest money. The fact is that in most real estate deals that fail, earnest money deposits that the buyers have made; end up with them, but the cancellation fees get deducted from the amount. Most property purchase agreements make note of when this money is refunded & to whom.

The Considerations

It goes without saying that when a real estate transaction fails, both the buyer and seller end up hotly disputing the earnest money deposits. Real estate experts always recommend that a property seller should not be permitted to hold the buyers’ earnest money deposit. The title company, real estate broker or settlement/escrow agent involved in the property sale holds these earnest money deposits. For more details about earnest money and mortgages, contact ResMac Home Loans.