HOW MUCH EARNEST MONEY TO PUT DOWN
The buyer is the one who decides the amount of money he wants to pay down with his offer but the larger the deposit the stronger the buyer looks to the seller. No earnest money deposit is required in order to make a contract binding however most sellers will ask for an earnest money deposit to show a buyer's good faith, but it is not required for consideration.
If you have two offers on the table and one is for $250,000 with no earnest money deposit and the 2nd offer is for $250,000 with $5,000 earnest money deposit, which would you consider the stronger buyer? If you have an earnest money deposit the seller feels he has a better chance of holding the buyer to the contract much more than a buyer with no deposit. When you find the home that is right for you, a reasonable earnest money deposit just may insure you seal the deal.