The legal definition of Consideration is something of value given by both parties to a contract that induces them into an agreement to exchange mutual performances.
Sometimes agents, buyers & sellers don't realize the full value of this consideration. When a buyer puts down his earnest money, usually it is in the form of money, it is a required element of a contract. Just because a buyer or seller decides to walk away or not follow through on a contract to a home, doesn't mean the contract terminates.
My brother-in-law, Greg, in Oregon is an Engineer. He had a contract on a home that included a water inspection in the contract contingency. When the water inspection came back with issues, he decided to terminate per the the terms and conditions of his contract. The seller, of course, didn't agree that the water inspection had an issue and decided to refuse to sign the termination paperwork or refund the earnest money back to him.
My brother-in-law, being the nice guy he is, didn't threaten him with a lawsuit, he just walked away from the deal and let it go for the time being. Why? Because about a month later, the seller called my brother-in-law to ask if he would be willing to accept a 50% reduction offer to give the earnest money back. Why? Because the seller had received another offer on the house and couldn't accept it until the contract with my brother-in-law was fully released including the earnest money. Greg said "no" to the 50% reduction to the earnest money. The seller had no choice but to give Greg his full earnest money back so that he could get fully released from the contract.
Earnest money battles are the #1 reason for real estate lawsuits in Georgia. I treat that earnest money that is given to me as if it was my own money. Never underestimate the value of the consideration given in the contract.