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Is earnest money a risk-free return if the home deal falls out?

When you make an offer on a house, you should anticipate a somewhat lengthy process of approvals, appraisals, inspections and documentation before you are granted the keys to the kingdom. Substantial money is going to be tied up in the process, most contributing to the purchase price on the house and some in addition to the final cost.

One such cost is a buyer's earnest money. Consider this cost a demonstration of your conviction in your offer. Many buyers will set either a specific monetary amount or a percentage of the list price in order to accept the offer and enter into the option period where the buyer can still decide to revoke the offer.

If you want to make an offer and are OK with paying the earnest money requested, you may have been told the earnest money will be refunded to you if you find something wrong with the house or decide to pull your offer from the table. In most cases this is true. But at times there can be disputes. Sometimes the seller feels the money is theirs because you withdrew your offer based on an appraisal coming back as less than the negotiated sale price or your financing falling through and you are not able to follow through on your offer.

If your entitlement to your earnest money is being disputed, a Florida real estate attorney may be helpful in getting the money returned to you. In fact, since Florida allows the option of using a title company or a real estate attorney when closing on a house, you may benefit substantially from working with a Florida real estate attorney from the start.

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