Where Does My Earnest Money Go?

Hey, I gave my real estate agent a $5000 Earnest Money Deposit check… Where does that money go?

A basic and very obvious question that most First-Time home Buyers ask once their purchase contract gets accepted.

According to Wikipedia:

Earnest Money – an earnest payment (sometimes called earnest money or simply earnest, or alternatively a good-faith deposit) is a deposit towards the purchase of real estate or publicly tendered government contract made by a buyer or registered contractor to demonstrate that he/she is serious (earnest) about wanting to complete the purchase.

When a buyer makes an offer to buy residential real estate, he/she generally signs a contract and pays a sum acceptable to the seller by way of earnest money. The amount varies enormously, depending upon local custom and the state of the local market at the time of contract negotiations.

An Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) is simply held by a third-party escrow company according to the terms of the executed purchase contract.

For example, there may be a contingency period for appraisal, loan approval, property inspection or approval of HOA documents.

In most cases, the Earnest Money held by the escrow company is credited towards the home buyer’s down payment and/or closing costs.

*It’s important to keep in mind that the EMD may actually be cashed at the time escrow is opened, so make sure your funds are from the proper sources.

The Process:

  1. Earnest Money is submitted to an escrow company with the accepted purchase contract
  2. At the close of escrow, the EMD is credited towards the down payment and / or closing costs
  3. If there are no closing costs or down payment, the EMD is refunded back to the buyer

Who Doesn’t Get Your Earnest Money:

  • Selling Real Estate Agent – A conflict of interest
  • Sellers – Too risky
  • Buying Agent – They shouldn’t have your money in their account


Related Articles – Closing Process / Costs

March 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment

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About Allen

Allen is President and Founder of First Trust Mortgage, a family owned, 15 year old, mortgage planning firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. First Trust Mortgage was founded in 1996 and provides residential mortgages in Florida. Allen's vision for First Trust Mortgage was based on two principles. First was to help his clients make informed decisions regarding residential mortgages. Second was to build long lasting relationships with his clients and referral partners. Over the past 5 years Allen has concentrated his education and efforts in the area of managing Real Estate equity through mortgage planning. Allen was one of the first certified mortgage planning specialists in the State of Florida and is a regular guest of Steve Pomegranate's "On The Money" radio program on NPR and Ray West's "Talk About Money" radio program on WAFG. Allen also teaches continuing education classes to certified financial planners and insurance professionals around the subject of managing equity in real estate. Allen graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1983. Allen has been lending in Florida since 1985 when he joined Great Western Bank (Washington Mutual) managing the company's Florida Commercial Real Estate Mortgage operation. In 1996 /1997 Great Western Bank was sold to Washington Mutual and Allen formed First Trust Mortgage Corporation. In 2003 Allen focused his practice on Strategic Real Estate Equity Management and is considered to be an expert on that topic. Allen practices personally the concepts he shares with the clients, peers and financial service providers. Allen exclusively participates in the residential mortgage industry and has purposely chosen to hold no other licenses even though he has participated and passed the class requirement for the Florida Real Estate Commission, Florida Mortgage Broker, Health, Life & Variable annuities license. Specialties Helping Consumers, Realtors and Financial Service Professionals Keep Current On Mortgage Trends and Provide Mortgage Solutions As Needed. In Addition I Love To Educate Seniors On The Use of Reverse Mortgages and First Time Homebuyers On How Much Payment Is Enough.

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