What is Earnest Money? Buyers typically give a deposit when they make an offer on a house. The money is provided to demonstrate that you are “earnest” or serious about buying their home. The amount of earnest money given usually depends on local custom, but a serious buyer might opt to give more to show commitment.
In most cases, the earnest money goes towards the eventual purchase of the house; however, there are two primary scenarios where you Buyers might have earnest money returned:
1. Rejected offer. If you make an offer to buy a house and the seller turns it down, they are required to give you the earnest money back; OR
2. Contingencies. When you make an offer to buy a house, the offer is usually contingent upon certain things, like a home inspection. If the inspection uncovers a serious flaw which is unacceptable, can’t be fixed, or the seller is unwilling to fix, you will also get your money returned.
To the contrary, if you back out of the Offer or Purchase and Sales for no good reason (ex. you decide you just don’t like the house or location), you might forfeit your earnest money. Like so many things in the law, we look at the return of earnest money on a case by case basis to determine what is right or just.
As always, please feel free to contact us with questions that you may have about this or any other legal issues.