I’m Cara Turek with the John Voirol Group, a top real estate team in St. Louis, Missouri. Today, I’m sharing with you five things you need to know about your earnest money deposit in St. Louis. If you stick with me until the very end, I will let you know how NOT lose your deposit.  If you don’t have time to read this post, don’t worry; we’ve included a short video with the same information. Subscribe to our John Voirol Group YouTube Channel to make sure you don’t miss future posts like this one.

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1. Earnest money is deposited with a neutral third party.

Earnest money shows the seller that you, the buyer, are serious about the contract and sincerely intend to move forward.  The deposit is never given directly to the seller.  Your earnest money deposit in St. Louis is payable to a reputable third party, such as a real estate brokerage, escrow company, legal firm or title company who holds the money until the transaction is completed.

2. Earnest money deposit is typically 1-1.5% of the purchase price.  

An earnest money deposit in St. Louis is most commonly 1-1.5% of the purchase price and is one of your opportunities to get leverage in a multiple offer situation. If competing with other buyers, offering to deposit more earnest money may make your offer stronger in the eyes of the Seller.  Your earnest money deposit should reflect your earnest intention to purchase the home but rarely exceeds $10,000.  The type of market, whether a buyers’ or a sellers’ market, typically dictates the amount of your earnest money deposit in St. Louis. 

3. Earnest money goes towards your downpayment at closing

Earnest money is not an additional cost or money down the drain.   In the end, if the home closes without the buyer or seller pulling out of the agreement, dollar for dollar your earnest money deposit goes toward the cost of your home. 

4. Earnest money must be deposited within 10 days.

Though often deposited much sooner, the Missouri Residential Sales Contract states that earnest money is to be deposited no later than 10 days. The escrow agent will cash your check upon receipt so it’s important to make sure you already have the funds in the account your check or wire will be drawn on. However, if you’re not available to deliver a check, you can choose to wire your earnest money deposit.  Your agent will provide a copy of the deposit receipt to the other agent as proof your funds were deposited by the date required in the contract.

5. As promised, how not to lose your earnest money.

You can forfeit your earnest money if you don’t fulfill your end of the contract. Therefore, it’s important to track and manage the deadlines for your contingencies as you only have a prescribed number of days for each one. These contingencies include inspections, insurability, loan commitment, title & survey, and appraisal. Having an agent who closely manages your contingency deadlines is not only important, but necessary to protect you and your earnest money deposit when buying a home in St. Louis. At the John Voirol Group, our job is to help ensure that this process is as easy and seamless as possible for you. We are your partner every step of the way. We know it can be a stressful time, but with our help, it can be really fun, too! We will do everything we can to make it a positive experience. 


This article was written by Cara Turek, a top St. Louis Realtor and Kirkwood neighborhood specialist. If you have any questions about earnest money, buying a home, starting your search – or any other real estate related question – send me a message at [email protected]. I would love to help you navigate your next home purchase and/or sale!  I am dedicated to providing exceptional, personalized service to all my clients and working tirelessly on their behalf.