When Can You Keep a Buyer’s Earnest Money Deposit?

Published On: March 27, 2022|Categories: Blog, Selling|Tags: , , |

When Can You Keep a Buyer's Earnest Money Deposit

If you’re like many sellers, you know that when a buyer gives over an earnest money deposit, they’re very serious about purchasing your home. That’s because if a buyer breaks their end of the deal, the seller typically gets to keep the earnest money deposit. Because earnest money deposits typically range between 2 and 5 percent of the home’s total sales price, you’re talking about a significant amount of money. Though it’s not always the case that the seller gets to keep the money, here are some instances in which it’s possible.

When Can You Keep a Buyer’s Earnest Money Deposit?

First things first: Why would a seller want to keep a buyer’s earnest money deposit? It’s primarily about inconvenience. When you accept an offer, you take your home off the market. That means other qualified buyers don’t even have a chance at it. After you’ve taken your home off the market in anticipation of one particular buyer purchasing it, if the deal falls through, you have to relist the home and start from scratch.

Related: 3 ways you can use plants to get buyers interested in your home

Generally, real estate contracts are filled with contingencies. Contingencies are conditions that must be met in order for the deal to go through. If you fail to uphold your end of the bargain as the seller, the buyer can walk away from the deal with their earnest money intact. However, if it’s the buyer who fails to hold up their end of the bargain, you may be entitled to keep their earnest money deposit.

For example, if a buyer just gets cold feet and decides not to purchase your home after you’ve already accepted their offer, there’s a good chance that you can keep the earnest money deposit. Likewise, if your contract doesn’t include contingencies such as those related to the home’s condition, but the buyer wants to cancel the deal anyway, you may be entitled to keep their earnest money deposit.

Join our team

Please fill out the below form completely and include your resume & cover letter and we will get back to you quickly!

  • Drop files here or
    Max. file size: 50 MB.

    Common Failed Contingencies

    real estate agents build contingencies into purchase contracts to protect their own clients. Your agent will build contingencies into your contract that protect you, and your buyer’s agent will do the same. These are the four most common reasons that buyers can walk away with their earnest money deposits intact:

    1. If a buyer’s financing falls through, provided that there is a financing contingency in the purchase contract, they can walk away with their earnest money. You can’t force them to purchase the home if they don’t have the money to do so.
    2. Problems with the property. If there’s an inspection contingency built into your contract, and the home inspector that the buyer hires discovers problems, the buyer can usually walk away with their earnest money. However, many buyers simply use inspection reports to negotiate with sellers.
    3. Title search problems. Usually, a buyer can get their earnest money back if a title search shows a lien or other issues with the ownership of a property.
    4. Appraisal problems. If your home appraises for less than your asking price, buyers usually get to walk away with their earnest money intact. However, sometimes buyers negotiate instead.

    Related: 3 quick fixes to make in your home office before you sell

    Step into this newly renovated home designed for both comfort and style. From the moment you enter, you'll be captivated by the spacious living areas and bedrooms! The heart of this home is the open kitchen, a chef's delight featuring granite countertops, sleek shaker cabinets, and brand-new appliances. Perfect for culinary enthusiasts, this kitchen is ready to inspire your next gourmet meal.

Adding to the convenience, a full laundry room ensures your daily chores are a breeze. But that's not all—this property includes a Additional Dwelling Unit with a separate entrance. Ideal for generating extra income as a rental unit or serving as a private guest suite, this versatile space adds significant value and flexibility to your investment.

Located in the highly sought-after South Tampa, you're just a short drive from the area's finest restaurants, entertainment venues, and nightlife. Enjoy the convenience of being close to top shopping destinations, hospitals, and recreational spots like Soho, Hyde Park, and Bayshore Boulevard. Commuting is a breeze with easy access to Downtown Tampa, the Gandy Bridge, boat ramps, and MacDill Air Force Base.

Seize the opportunity to own this exquisite home in one of Tampa's most desirable neighborhoods. Schedule your showing today and make South Tampa your new address! $475,000 Active

    4729 W Lawn Avenue Tampa, Florida

    4 Beds 2 Baths 1,270 SqFt 0.170 Acres

    Welcome to your dream home in the heart of Florida! This stunning 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom residence boasts a spacious open floor plan with modern amenities and elegant finishes throughout. Enjoy the Florida lifestyle with ample natural light, high ceilings, and a gourmet kitchen featuring quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances. The master suite offers a private retreat with a luxurious ensuite bathroom and his and hers walk-in closets.As you enter the home, you will be greeted by a bright and airy living room, perfect for relaxing or entertaining guests. The open floor plan seamlessly flows into the dining area and kitchen, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The kitchen is equipped with modern appliances, ample cabinet space, and a large island for meal prep and casual dining.This home features 2 full bathrooms and 1 half bathroom, making it convenient for larger families or guests. The master bedroom is a peaceful retreat, complete with an ensuite bathroom and plenty of closet space. The additional bedrooms are spacious and versatile, offering plenty of room for children, guests, or a home office.Outside, relax in the beautifully landscaped backyard oasis, perfect for entertaining or quiet evenings under the stars. The property includes a large garage and plenty of storage spaceLocated in a desirable neighborhood, this home is close to schools, shopping, dining, and entertainment options. With easy access to major highways, commuting to work or exploring the city is a breeze. Whether you're looking for a cozy family home or a place to entertain friends, 6711 Frontier Ln has everything you need and more.Don't miss the opportunity to make this house your new home. Schedule a showing today and experience the beauty and comfort of 6711 Frontier Ln for yourself. $719,000 Active

    6711 Frontier Lane Tampa, Florida

    3 Beds 3 Baths 2,316 SqFt 0.320 Acres

    Charming Mid Century Ranch style home located on an oversized 9,250 sq ft lot, in South Tampa's desirable Swann Estates.  This traditional floor plan includes a formal living and dining room that is open to the fabulously remodeled and spacious kitchen.  The home is beautifully appointed with hardwood floors and crown molding throughout. Relax by the wood burning fireplace located in the family room and visible to all living spaces, which is great for entertaining.  There are three spacious bedrooms and two bathrooms with ample closet space.  Enjoy the screened in back porch overlooking the beautiful gardens or sit on the open patio within the fully fenced in backyard.   This home has had a major update in 2000.
Located in the A rated school district for Grady, Coleman, Plant and Christ the King Elementary School. Just minutes to Midtown, Downtown, Tampa International Airport, Selmon Expressway, I-275, and Veterans Expressway.  The pristine Florida beaches are just a 30 minute drive away.  Short distance to all our world renowned hospitals.  All within a short distance are parks, tennis courts and Little League.
This home has been meticulously maintained.  Please visit us at the scheduled Open House for a tour of this lovely home. $939,000 Active

    4103 W Mckay Avenue Tampa, Florida

    3 Beds 2 Baths 1,780 SqFt 0.210 Acres

    LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! This is your perfect opportunity to build your dream home  in the highly desired South Tampa area, just off Dale Mabry Blvd and only a few minutes to Bay Shore Boulevard.  For those interested, the home comes with pre-made, site-specific, architect-made, renderings of one possible home option for this very adaptable property!This site has TONS of potential and is ready for the new owner to bring it back to life and allow it to grow with the rest of the community that surrounds it. Close to all that South Tampa has to offer including shopping, restaurants and minutes from Tampa International Airport, downtown, Westshore and International malls, mid-town, Water Street and Raymond James Stadium. Situated in the coveted Roosevelt/Coleman/Plant school district. The property is being sold as-is, as the setting is perfect but the house is not. The lot is very large for South Tampa, measuring a full 0.27 acres and includes a beautiful, deep swimming pool to center your new home around. Don't wait to schedule your showing as we expect it to move fast. We are not doing in-home tours, but scheduled property visits are welcome and encouraged.This is a cash only sale due to the condition of the home  and the sale is "AS-IS'' for sellers convenience. $699,999 Active

    3608 E Tampa Circle Tampa, Florida

    2 Beds 1 Baths 1,012 SqFt 0.270 Acres

    Are You Buying or Selling a Home in Tampa Bay?

    You can use this website to search homes for sale in Tampa Bay and all its communities. Our site is directly connected to the Tampa Bay MLS, and we update our listings every hour. You can even use our site to create your own account and get emails as soon as a new home hits the market, price change alerts and so much more.

    While you’re here, check out these listings: