When you submit an offer on any piece of Real Estate you will have to provide an Earnest Money Deposit on the property. This demonstrates that you are willing to take action on purchasing the property and you actually have the funds.Your deposit is a commitment to purchase the property and after your agreed inspection periods are over you have to purchase the property or the seller will keep your funds as damages they’ve incurred for stopping marketing the property and holding costs.
Now the investor’s goal is to put as small of a deposit as possible and the seller would like the largest deposit as possible.
From what I’ve seen the standard was $2,000 – $3,000 on properties under $100,000 and $5,000 on properties for sale over $100,000. A 10% earnest money deposit will show a bank that you are serious about the process, but usually will not overcome a higher offer. Realize this is a negotiation ploy and it really can show how serious you are without costing any extra money. I know of a couple different investor who brought in an earnest money deposit at their full price, if that doesn’t show the bank you are a serious buyer, I don’t know what will.
Depending on your agent, you typically will not need to provide the actual check when you write the offer. We just write out a check and scan a copy. In California, the seller typically picks the escrow company. So you would just write a check out with a bunch of spaces ” Escrow”. When your contract is accepted the idea is, you can write in the escrow companies name in the blank space, “West Coast Escrow.”
More often then not, the seller wants a cashier’s check versus a personal check. So the original check will be thrown away and you will have to go to the bank and make a cashier’s check. If you are bringing it directly to escrow always make a copy first and email or fax it to your agent so they can pass it on to the seller. Sometimes they will take a personal check.
Some real estate agents sent up what is called a “trust account” for their clients. They handle money for clients and will pass it directly to escrow. In my experience this is becoming less and less common as there is a lot of liability that comes with handling this money. It is totally legitimate to do this as a buyer and it is heavily regulated. Most agents prefer not to deal with it, as it is one of the most common reason for them to lose their real estate license.
If you wholesale properties. ALWAYS make sure that your buyer’s earnest money deposit is bigger than the one that you put with your purchase escrow. If the buyer does not perform you want to be able to keep their deposit at damages and not lose out.