MemberSince99 wrote:. Now I'm wondering about the whole "earnest deposit" concept and wondering why I have to offer the sellers a bribe (essentially) to look at my legally binding offer. I've read of people putting down big deposits and getting screwed out of them. It's free money for the seller Anyway I don't care to have to bribe the seller to consider my offer - either you want to sell the place or you don't.
I disagree that earnest money is a "bribe" to the seller. Quite the opposite, its a useful way to address a potential roadblock to a transaction.
In 2004 I sold a condo; the buyer and I entered a contract, but two weeks later the buyer needed to back out as it (a couple) found something better for them. I kept the earnest money as compensation for my trouble (I took the house off the market, thus losing other potential buyers for over two weeks), they got the condo they wanted (sadly not mine, but I found a buyer a month later!). Had they gone through with the sale, of course, the earnest money would have been applied to the price of the condo. They were better off losing the earnest money but getting a different condo and I was also better off (it took me longer to sell, but I got some money for my trouble).
Obviously, the earnest money system has drawbacks. Its certainly not the only way one could address these issues and disputes can arise over earnest money. Maybe its not the best way. But its far, far, far from "a bribe."