In the state of Florida if a buyer wants to buy a piece of real estate by law, they are not required to put down a binder deposit or earnest money. Some people think they are required to and that's just not the case.
There are situations however where the seller will require (or ask) that you put one down or they won't even consider your offer. This is typical with REO's and foreclosures; this is legal and their choice.
It is not unreasonable to put a binder down as a buyer, since it lets the seller know that you are serious about buying the property. They want to know this considering they won't be getting a lot of showings once they are under contract with you as this is shown in our Multiple Listing Service.
When you do put a binder down, ask your agent who will be holding it and when it is due. It usually goes towards your down payment on the house. If there is a dispute and your contract falls through, it can take several weeks to get it back, so don't be afraid to ask your agent questions at any stage in the game.
The standard NEFAR Purchase & Sale agreement protects your binder in the event that something is found during inspection...for the most part. Make sure your buyer's agent writes a clean contract and explains anything to you that he/she writes in.
Buying a home is a fun and exciting experience, putting down a binder is just one of the many steps you take to get there.
Jessica Touchton - Buyer's Agent w/ The Landry Team Keller Williams Realty (904) 534-8416 email@example.com