How to Write a Check for Earnest Money: A Step-By-Step Guide

Everything about writing a check for earnest money

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Earnest money is a deposit a buyer makes to show their commitment to purchasing a property. Buyers need to understand how to write a check for Earnest Money correctly to avoid any delays or complications.

Writing a check for earnest money is a crucial step in the home-buying process. To write a check for earnest money, you should include the buyer’s name, the property address, the amount, and the payment’s purpose in the memo line.

The guide covers instructions on how to write a check for earnest money. It’s relevant for both home buyers and individuals buying or selling a property as they will need to understand how to properly handle earnest money during the transaction.

Understanding Earnest money

inarticle image-how to write a check for earnest money-Understanding Earnest money

Earnest money is typically a percentage of the purchase price, ranging from 1% to 3% of the total cost. The purpose of earnest money is to provide a demonstration of the buyer’s seriousness and commitment to purchasing the property, and to protect the interests of both the buyer and the seller.

After the seller accepts the offer, the earnest money is held in an escrow account until the closing of the transaction.

At the closing, the earnest money is applied towards the buyer’s down payment and closing costs, serving as a form of security for both parties’ deposits. [1]Washington State Legislature, “Section 64.04.220, https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=64.04.220#:~:text=%22Earnest%20money%22%20means,RCW%2018.44.011%3B”

Earnest money helps to demonstrate the buyer’s commitment to the deal. It shows the seller that the buyer is serious about purchasing the property and provides some assurance that the deal will close.

If the buyer backs out of the deal without a valid reason, they may forfeit the earnest money to the seller as a penalty.

If the sale falls through due to a contingency or a problem with the property, the earnest money is typically returned to the buyer.

Writing a check for Earnest money

inarticle image-how to write a check for earnest money-Writing a check for Earnest Money

Writing a check is essential to make sure the transaction goes smoothly. Make sure you know how to write a check for earnest money correctly.

Here are the detailed steps for writing a check for Earnest Money:

Verify the correct payee

The payee on the check should be the seller or the seller’s agent, as instructed by the real estate agent or attorney. It’s essential to verify the correct spelling and address of the payee to ensure the check is deposited into the correct bank account.

Fill in the date

The date on the check should match the date the earnest money is being paid.

Write the amount

The amount of earnest money should be written in both numbers and words to avoid any confusion. Ensuring the amount is correct before finalizing the whole check format is important.

Memo field

The memo line should indicate that the check is for earnest money and include the property address.

Signature

The check should be signed by the person who is listed as the buyer on the purchase agreement.

Here is an example of a completed Earnest Money check:

Pay to the order of: John Doe (seller)

Date: April 9, 2023

Amount: $5,000.00 (Five thousand dollars)

Memo: Earnest Money for 123 main street

Signature: John Smith (buyer)

Dos and don’ts for writing an Earnest money check

inarticle image-how to write a check for earnest money-Dos and don'ts for writing an Earnest Money check

Here are some dos and don’ts to consider while writing a check for Earnest Money:

Dos:

  • Verify the correct payee and spelling of the name.
  • Double-check the amount written in both numbers and words.
  • Use a cashier’s check, as personal checks may not be accepted.
  • Fill out the memo line correctly to indicate that the check is for earnest money and include the property address.
  • Sign the check using the name listed on the purchase agreement.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t write a post-dated check.
  • Don’t forget to put a date on the check.
  • Don’t forget to have sufficient funds in the account.
  • Don’t leave any blank fields on the check.
  • Don’t alter or modify the check after it’s been signed.

Tips to ensure a smooth transaction:

Many moving parts are involved in filling out a check for Earnest Money. Here are some tips for a smooth process.

  1. Communicate with the real estate agent or attorney to ensure the correct amount of earnest money is paid. Ensure that it’s being paid to the correct party.
  2. Make sure to have enough funds available in the account before writing the check.
  3. Consider using a cashier’s check or wire transfer to ensure prompt payment and avoid any delays.
  4. Keep a record of the check for future reference and tax purposes.
  5. Confirm with the seller or agent that the check has been received and deposited.

What happens to Earnest money after it’s deposited?

inarticle image-how to write a check for earnest money-What happens to Earnest Money after it's deposited

After earnest money is deposited, it is held in an escrow account until the sale is finalized. The escrow account is typically managed by a third party, such as a title company or an attorney, to ensure that the funds are handled properly.

The following are some conditions under which the earnest money can be forfeited:

Buyer breaches the contract

If the buyer fails to fulfill their obligations under the purchase agreement, the seller may be entitled to keep the earnest money as compensation.

Buyer cancels the contract for an unallowable reason

If the buyer cancels the contract for a reason not allowed under the terms of the purchase agreement, such as a change of heart, the seller may be entitled to keep the earnest money.

Buyer fails to obtain financing

If the buyer is cannot secure financing to complete the purchase, they may be entitled to a refund of the earnest money, depending on the terms of the contract.

Seller breaches the contract

If the seller fails to fulfill their obligations under the purchase agreement, such as not completing necessary repairs before closing, the buyer may be entitled to a refund.

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FAQs

Can I use a credit card or other payment methods instead of writing a check for Earnest Money?

It is rare to use credit cards or other payment methods for earnest money, as they are not as secure as checks. However, some real estate agents or sellers may accept cash, wire transfers or ACH payments.

How much Earnest Money is typically required when buying a property?

You will need to pay a certain amount when you make an offer on the house.

The amount you need to pay depends on the price of the house, where it is located, and what the local mortgage market is like. It usually costs about 1-3% of the purchase price.

What information should I include on the check for Earnest Money?

When writing a check, put the name of the escrow agent or title company in the payee line.

Write down the date and how much money you are giving in numbers and words. Put a note on why you are giving this money.

Who should the check for Earnest Money be made payable to?

When you put down money, make the check out to the company that will keep it safe. They will hold it until everything is finished.

What happens to the Earnest Money if the deal falls through?

The buyer will get their money back if they cannot get the loan or if there is something wrong with the house. But, if the potential buyer ever changes their mind, the seller can keep the money as payment.

Writing a check for earnest money deposit is a crucial part of the purchasing home process.

If you have any questions on how to write a check for earnest money, it’s best to consult with your real estate agent or an attorney.

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