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The Difference Between Due Diligence and Earnest Money

What Is The Difference Between Due Diligence Money and Earnest Money?

If you are shopping for a home and are hearing terms you aren’t familiar with such as due diligence money and earnest money, you might be wondering what the difference between the two is, how they affect you, how much they will cost you, and if you can get your money back if the contract is cancelled. This article should help answer some of your questions starting with the difference between due diligence money and earnest money.

“Due Diligence” is the buyer’s opportunity to engage in a process of further investigation of the property and the transaction as described in the Offer to Purchase form within a period of time agreed to by the seller and buyer. The buyer will want to inquire about anything bearing on a decision to either move forward with the contract or to terminate it.  Some common considerations of the “Due Diligence” period are; home, pest, and septic inspections, property survey, appraisal, title search, loan qualification and application, repair negotiation, etc. The buyer has until 5:00 PM on the expiration date of the due diligence period to terminate the contract for any or no reason at all. The due diligence fee is Non-Refundable however, if the buyer terminates the contract during the due diligence period, the Earnest money deposit is refundable.

Deciding how much due diligence time is needed requires thinking about how long it will take to schedule appointments for inspectors to come out and inspect the home and how long it takes to review documents like the HOA rules and regulations. During the due diligence time the buyer is able to cancel the contract for any reason, or no reason at all.  Due diligence money is non-refundable The good news is the money is typically credited towards the purchase of the home at closing.

Earnest money is “good faith” money. The buyer is showing the seller they are serious about buying the home.  If the seller is unable to fulfill the contract the buyer will get the earnest money back.  If the buyer is unable to fulfill the contract the seller can keep the earnest money.  Earnest money is refundable if the contract is cancelled within the due diligence time period and is credited toward the purchase at closing if the sale goes through.

In general, there is no definite amount set for due diligence or earnest money.   The amount of earnest money paid could be a percentage of the purchase price but both the due diligence fee and earnest money deposit will be decided between the buyer and seller and written into the contract.

For more information, please visit http://www.ncrec.gov/Brochures/EarnestMoney.pdf
North Carolina Offer to Purchase and Contract, standard form 2-T Revised 1/2015

“Due Diligence” Questions and Answers

Contact us for more information about how much earnest money is required to start building a new home.

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McKee Homes online marketing manager

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2 thoughts on “The Difference Between Due Diligence and Earnest Money

  1. This information is patently incorrect. When you state that the due diligence money is refundable if the seller decides to terminate the contract prior to the conclusion of the due diligence period ending, you are erroneous. It is true that the due diligence money is applied to a sale that goes through, but it is non-refundable if the sale does not proceed AT ANY POINT IN TIME, including during the due diligence window. If it were otherwise, there would be no difference between how due diligence deposits and earnest money deposits work, and therefore no need for two different names/terms. Also, as far as the notion of the due diligence deposit serving as a precautionary/ compensatory gesture for taking the home off the market while the prospective buyer is conducting inspections–that’s not accurate either, as the seller can legally continue to promote and show the home during that window of time.

    • Thanks for your comment Chris. There was some erroneous information in the post which has been corrected.

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