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Due Diligence and Earnest Money Funds Explained

We thought we would take a few minutes to explain the due diligence process and why a buyer in North Carolina has to write two checks when they make an offer on a property. If you would rather “watch” this explanantion than read it, just skip down to the videos below.

Once you and your agent find the property that you are ready to write an offer on your agent is going to ask you to write TWO checks; one to the seller and one to the closing attorney or escrow agent. The first is a due diligence (DD) check and is typically 1/2 % – 1 % of the sales price. This check is written straight to the SELLER and it is exactly what it sounds like; funds to the seller so that you can complete your “due diligence”. During this due diligence period we will help you arrange any inspections you want to have done; including but not limited to a home inspection, a radon inspection, well and septic inspections, lender appraisals, surveys, etc. Per the contract, you are able to terminate your Offer To Purchase ANY time during your due diligence period for ANY reason. Contracts are no longer contingent on home inspections, your loan, or even another house closing. If you as a buyer choose to exercise your right to terminate you dont even have to give a reason, it may even be because you found another house you like better. However, your due diligence funds will not be returned as they were given to the seller at the time of contract to “buy time off of the market”. The seller has lost valuable time off of the market while you were doing your due diligence for their home. However, if you do indeed go to closing on the home, this DD amount is a credit to you at closing.

The second check you will need to write, either at the time of your offer, or if negotiated may be at the end of your due diligence date, is an earnest money deposit (EMD). The EMD says to a seller that you are “earnest” about purchasing their property. This EMD is also typically 1/2 % – 1 % of the sales price, but can be negotiated just like the DD amount. The EMD check is not written to the seller but to the listing company’s trust account, or more commonly to the trust account of the closing attorney that is spelled out on the purchase contract. It is held in escrow until the property either goes to closing or the contract is terminated. If the buyer chooses to terminate the contract in their DD period, per the contract the EMD will go back to the buyer. However, if the buyer ends up terminating the contract AFTER their DD period is over, per the contract, the seller will receive the EMD. This is considered damages to the seller for the buyer breaching the contract, however it does not negate the possibility for any other legal remedy the seller may take for such breach. We like to call the DD date of the contract the “pack up” date for the seller, as they can be assured the buyer has completed their due diligence process and is heading to closing. In addition, just like the DD funds, this EMD is a credit to you at the closing table.

We hope this helps explain why Buyers have to write these checks when they are ready to make an offer on a home. We know this can be a scary and stressful time however Front Porch agents are poised to help you make your home purchase exciting and fun and will help minimze your stress. Having a Front Porch Realty Buyer’s Agent is always absolutely FREE, learn more about Agency relationships in North Carolina HERE.

Contact us today to get started with your home search!