Louise Lingerman's Blog
Have you heard the term “earnest money” but really aren’t sure what it means? Once you have found the perfect home and are all set to make an offer, there’s one more step that you need to take. That’s to make a deposit on the home you want to buy. This is known as an “earnest money deposit.”
The Purpose Of The Deposit
The deposit shows the seller that you’re serious about buying the home. It’s a measure that allows the seller to have some faith in you as a buyer that you’re truly moving forward with your decision; you’re ready as a buyer to make the financial commitment. This deposit allows the deal to begin on a solid basis without much question.
Is The Deposit Required Legally To Buy A Home?
From a seller’s perspective, a deposit keeps a buyer from changing their mind. If there is a significant amount of money involved, the seller sees the deposit as a way to keep the buyer locked in. This makes it easier for sellers to accept an offer.
How Much Is Expected For An Earnest Money Deposit?
These deposits don’t quite have a standard amount. The general rule is that they range from 1% of the home price up to 5%. The more expensive of a home that’s being purchased, the larger the earnest money deposit should be. In some cases, the seller may even ask for a certain amount of a deposit to ensure that buyers are serious. How much money you pay at once is often negotiable. You may be able to pay part of the money at one time and the other part at a later date.
New Construction Can Require Large Deposits
New construction homes can require large earnest money deposits- up to half of the purchase price of the home. This is because the construction costs need to be paid upfront and the bank wants proof that the units being constructed with loan money are being sold to buyers who can pay for the home.
New construction homes are often customized as well. It would be detrimental to a developer to make special changes to a home only for a buyer to walk away.
Getting The Deposit Refunded
As with everything in real estate, you’ll have a contract. If you don’t follow the terms of the contract, you risk losing your earnest money deposit. Two main reasons for buyers to walk away are a flopped home inspection or financing that falls through. Read your contracts carefully. Sellers sometimes state that deposits are nonrefundable after a certain number of days.
You need to be sure that you are covered as a buyer in the purchase and sales agreement. If you back out of a home purchase without good reason like a contingency included in the agreement) you could be out of luck when it comes to getting your deposit back.