Elizabeth Weintraub • Sacramento Real Estate Agent: January 2009

The Saga with Earnest Money Deposits on Bank-Owned Homes in Sacramento

earnest money depositAs the number of foreclosures on the market in Sacramento continue to fall, banks are becomingly more demanding. It's not enough that they may want to see copies of the buyer's bank statements, a large earnest money deposit, a direct lender letter (which means some borrowers have to qualify twice) and proof of eye color before they'll look at an offer on a bank-owned home, but some reo lenders are insisting that the buyer's earnest money deposit become non-refundable upon offer acceptance.

Since turnaround time can be excruciatingly slow in many cases, that time lag can give a buyer the chance to quickly run over and conduct a home inspection, providing one can find a home inspector who will drop everything to do it.

The company I work for, Lyon Real Estate, has decided it will no longer collect earnest money deposits to place into trust on bank-owned homes. And that's a relief on several levels. First, banks routinely want to increase the deposit. For example, last week a first-time home buyer wrote an earnest money deposit for $3,000 on an under $200K home. The bank countered and insisted on a $5,000 earnest money deposit.

When the offer was accepted, the bank then directed the buyer to make a new earnest money deposit payable to XYZ escrow company in southern California. Which delights me to no end because escrows are handled differently in southern California than in northern California. I know this first hand because 30 years ago I was an escrow officer in southern California. The bank requested the new check late on Friday, which meant I had to FedEx the earnest money deposit on Saturday for a Monday delivery. But we got it there.

Yesterday, the buyer asked me why her bank charged her a fee for non-sufficient funds. She honestly did not realize that escrow would cash her check. She thought escrow would hold it until closing!  Although I had initially explained that her check would be held until offer acceptance, this buyer did not understand that upon offer acceptance it would be cashed -- because I didn't spell it out.

Which just goes to show that we, as agents, can rarely go wrong by taking nothing for granted.

Fortunately, she is able to wire the funds today.

Elizabeth Weintraub Land Park Real Estate Agent in Sacramento

The Short Sale Savior, by Elizabeth Weintraub, coming soon to a bookstore near you.

Photo: Big Stock Photo

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Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.

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