Keeping Your Earnest Money Safe
When you make an offer on a house, it is accompanied by an earnest money check. Earnest money is intended to demonstrate that you are "in earnest" about purchasing the property. The earnest money check is made out to the listing company. What happens to this check?
The party holding the check acts as an escrow agent until you go into closing. At that time you will receive credit for the amount of your check against the down payment and closing costs. Real estate brokers are required by law to keep escrow funds in a special account. These funds cannot be used to pay any other expenses associated with the sale. If you don't complete the transaction, the purchase contract determines the disposition of your earnest money funds. Be sure to review this part of your contract with the real estate agent.
If you are in default on your agreement, the funds may go to the sellers, so be sure that you understand the deadlines in order to avoid breach of contract and forfeiture of your deposit. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your real estate agent for advice.