Offering to Purchase Real Estate - The Basics

Earnest Money Deposit


After you have come up with an offer price, the next step is to determine how large a deposit you want to include with your offer. You want the "earnest money deposit" to be large enough to show the seller that you are a serious buyer, but not so large you are placing significant funds at risk.


One recommendation is to make sure your deposit is around 2-5% (depending on your location) of your offered price. The reason for this is that if your deposit is much larger than that, the lender will pay particular attention to how you came up with those funds. You might have to provide a copy of a canceled check along with a bank statement showing you had the money to begin with. Normally, this is not a problem, but if you have a short escrow period or are barely coming up with your down payment, it could pose an inconvenience.


Another reason to limit your deposit is "just in case." Although significant problems are the exception and not the rule, they do occur in some instances. "Just in case" there is any type of prolonged dispute between you and the seller, the less money you have tied up in a deposit, and the fewer funds you have placed at risk.


As with practically everything in real estate, there are exceptions to this rule, too. During a hot market there may be multiple offers on the property that interests you. A large deposit may impress a seller enough so they will accept your offer instead of someone else’s, even when your unknown competitor is offering the same price or slightly higher. A larger deposit will let the seller know that you are a serious buyer and willing to front the additional funds in order to have your offer accepted. 


Since large deposits do impress sellers, you may also find that by making a large deposit you can convince the seller to accept a lower offer. More money up front may end up saving you money later down the road.


There are also times when closing can be delayed by weeks, through no fault of your own. This could be caused by issues with the lender, escrow, title or any other party involved in the transaction. Have back-up plans prepared for such a contingency.

Gretta Sheffer Minnema
Gretta Sheffer Minnema
10791 Los Alamitos Blvd Los Alamitos CA 90720