Earnest Money

Understanding Earnest Money in a Real Estate Transaction

In this article, we will discuss the importance of earnest money in a real estate transaction. We’ll explain how earnest money works, and provide answers to commonly asked questions to help you fully grasp this crucial aspect of selling your property.

What is Earnest Money? Earnest money, also known as a good-faith deposit, is a sum of money provided by the buyer to demonstrate their commitment to purchasing the property. It is a way for the buyer to show their serious intent to proceed with the transaction and will be applied to a buyer’s down payment during the closing process.. The earnest money deposit is a key component of the overall offer and the amount is typically included in the purchase contract.

How Does Earnest Money Work? Once the buyer and seller have agreed on the important aspects of the transaction and signed the contract, the buyer must provide an earnest money deposit. In the Chicago market, the deposit is typically around 5% of the purchase price, but this amount can be negotiated. Factors such as buyer competition or specific details of the transaction may also affect the deposit amount. It is important to keep these variables in mind.

Payment Timeline

As part of the contract, the buyer can pay the earnest money deposit either in full or in two installments. Upon signing the contract, the buyer is expected to make an initial deposit within a few days, which serves as a demonstration of their commitment to the purchase. Typically, this initial deposit is a smaller portion of the total earnest money agreed upon.

After the initial deposit, the buyer is given a specific time frame, as outlined in the contract, to submit the remaining balance of the earnest money. This balance is usually paid after the Attorney Review period, during which the buyer’s attorney can review and potentially make changes to the contract.

Handling of Earnest Money

In the Chicago market, earnest money is usually held by a neutral third party called an escrow agent. Traditionally, the brokerage firm that listed the property serves as the escrow agent. The escrow agent acts as a trustworthy intermediary, ensuring the secure handling and appropriate distribution of the earnest money in accordance with the contract’s terms. This guarantees that the earnest money remains safe and can be properly applied to the buyer’s down payment during the closing process.

Frequently Asked Questions about Earnest Money:

Q: What happens to the earnest money if the sale falls through? 

A: The terms regarding the earnest money deposit and its disposition in case of a failed transaction are typically outlined in the contract. In some cases, if the buyer fails to fulfill the terms of the contract, the seller may be entitled to keep all or a portion of the earnest money deposit. However, if the sale falls through due to a contingency specified in the contract, such as an inspection issue or financing difficulty, the earnest money is usually returned to the buyer.

Q: Can the earnest money amount be negotiated? 

A: Yes, the amount of earnest money can be negotiated between the buyer and seller. It’s important to discuss this aspect with your real estate agent to determine the appropriate amount based on the market conditions and your specific circumstances.

Q: Is the earnest money applied toward the purchase price?

Yes, the earnest money deposit is usually applied toward the purchase price. the buyer’s down payment or closing costs at the time of closing. It is considered a portion of the funds that the buyer has to bring to the closing table.

Q: How long will the earnest money be held in the escrow account? 

A: The duration for holding the earnest money in the escrow account can vary depending on the terms agreed upon in the contract. It is typically held until the transaction’s closing or the conditions specified in the contract are met.

Remember, the information provided here is a general overview of earnest money in a real estate transaction. If you have any further questions or require assistance with selling your property, please feel free to contact me at ivona@ivonahomes.com