But I Didn't Bring the Checkbook!

Real Estate Agent with Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group S44645

But I Didn't Bring the Checkbook!


It happens.  I counsel my buyers to go to a lender, have their pre-approval letter ready, and bring the checkbook when they view homes.  Why?  Because if you find one that you like and you want to submit an offer, I need to have the earnest money check in my possession.  Now, understand that the check stays with me until there is an accepted offer.  And I will let a buyer know when I provide the check to the listing agent so that if they need to move money around in their account, they are aware.


There is a situation that came up recently on one of my new listings where a buyer submitted an offer, it was accepted and the buyer's agent had not yet received the earnest check or the lender letter from the buyer.  It was promised that the buyer would meet to give her the check in the afternoon the next day and that the lender would send me the letter.  I knew something was going south when I could not reach the agent by phone and the only text I received was that she was meeting them at 3:00 to get it.   But it was now 5:45 and radio silence.


worried lady at a desk


Never again.  At 6:15, I received a tear-filled call from the agent that the parents of the buyers told them that they were not buying the house and instructed the buyers to cancel the contract and refuse to provide the earnest check.  The parents had yelled at the buyer's agent in the front yard of my listing, telling her that the buyers offered too much because the sellers accepted it and didn't counter.  Huh?  These buyers viewed the home and wrote a good offer on the spot during their showing.  They had competed and lost other homes and they offered a solid offer, not full price, and the seller accepted more because of the closing date because it worked for them.  It was the worst case of buyer's remorse (not from a buyer) that I had ever seen.  


The buyer's agent sent me a release of the contract, but there was no earnest money to refund as it had never been received by the buyer's agent or by me as the listing agent.  The sellers refused to sign.  I let the buyer's agent know that I could not force the sellers to sign and that maybe once another accepted offer was received, I would try again.  But I was not going to pressure my client to sign the release.  Unlike her, I still needed to work with my client.  Her buyers were moving on to another house.....and another agent.


So what do you do as a listing agent?  I am now requiring all offers to be accompanied with a copy of the earnest check to show that it is in the possession of the buyer's agent submitting the offer.  In Iowa, the earnest money must be present at the time of the offer, but we are all a little lax in heeding that warning.  We allow buyers to give us the check later, after the offer is accepted.  If the buyers are out of state, we have no choice.  But I ask that the buyer take a picture and send it to me so that I can show that it has been written and it is being sent in the mail. (Most of the time, this is not an issue, most buyers that write an offer fully intend to follow through with the purchase barring something horrible discovery during the inspections.)


As a buyer's agent, I will write the offer, but I will not submit it to the listing agent until they drop off the check to me.  When you offer on a home, it is a legal binding contract.  The good faith (earnest check) is part of the contract and I am not going to be in a compromising position by needing to admit that I don't have it.  It is part of my buyer process that they have their checkbook with them, now I have this story to share on why it is so important!


Keep smiling!



Posted by


Karen Feltman, REALTOR®, ABR, AHS, CHMS,                                                                      CNE,CRS, e-Pro, green, GRI, SRES, TRC

Keller Williams Legacy Group

4850 Armar Drive SE Ste B

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403

Email: karenfeltman@gmail.com

Mobile  319-521-0701


Licensed in the State of Iowa

© 2010-2018 by Karen Feltman, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Relocation Specialist 


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. JM Padron, CCIM, MRICS 08/25/2016 09:08 PM
Home Buying
Iowa Linn County Cedar Rapids
Active Rain Newbies
1st Time Buyers
Iowa Real Estate
Addicted to Active Rain
earnest money
seller representation
buyer representation
writing an offer
buyers remorse
buying a home in cedar rapids
legal binding contract

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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Karen

Such a sad story for those buyers, and a rather uncomfortable situation for all!

Things are done differently here in SoCal, although it can vary by brokerage. Normally once an offer is accepted and we open escrow the buyer has 3 business days to get the funds to escrow. My broker does not even maintain a trust account so fund must get to escrow either via check or wire.


Aug 25, 2016 05:03 AM #1
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Here is Florida the standard contract used provides the earnest money be delivered within three days of accepted offer.  

Aug 25, 2016 05:10 AM #2
Jeremy K. Frost
Keller Williams Realty - Dripping Springs, TX
Associate Broker, CNE, CRS, ePro, PSA

This is a fantastic post. Thank you for sharing and best of luck!

Aug 25, 2016 05:44 AM #3
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

So sorry this happened to you. Here in North Carolina our contracts allow for an option that earnest money will be submitted within 5 days of contract execution, so unless a seller insists em accompany before considering the offer, buyer can wait. Then again, let's remember buyer can also stop payment on a check very quickly.

Aug 25, 2016 05:47 AM #4
CCIM, MRICS, Serving Mexico-USA Border

Great post. Many agents should learn from it, we have had at my office so many similar situations, and by the way if the contract has been executed, it is a contract even thought the earnest money deposit may be still pending. Agents beware of this!

Aug 25, 2016 09:08 PM #5
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

It's super rare for us to the EMD at the time of the offer.  Our contract allows for a negotiated # of days after binding agreement to get it to the agent. It's been years since we had a check at the time of the offer.  Mostly because things are esigned and no one writes an offer on the spot anymore.

Aug 26, 2016 06:49 AM #6
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

We don't usually collect it until the offer is accepted and the days are indicated on the contract so it is clearly understood by all parties. Most buyers do not carry a checkbook with them and I have even had some very young buyers that don't have any checks. They have to go get a cashiers check or money order.

Aug 30, 2016 10:54 AM #7
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Karen Feltman

Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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