While many people still prefer to pay their earnest money deposit (EMD) by check there are other options available. 

  • Acceptable forms of earnest money transfers include personal checks, cashiers’ checks, and wire transfers 
  • Online forms or EMD payments are becoming more popular 

Many real estate brokers and title companies have their escrow accounts tied to online accounts that make transferring money easy and secure. 

Acceptable Forms of EMD: How to Pay Earnest Money With or Without a Check

There are several acceptable forms of earnest money payment. You can pay with a personal or cashier’s (bank) check, make a wire transfer to the escrow account, take advantage of newer, online forms of payment.  Just make sure that whichever method you use that you make sure you deposit the money on time.

Whichever way you make your payment, you need to make sure your bank account is in good order before you begin the home buying process. Lenders will look at your accounts to make sure you do not receive money as a gift. The want to make sure you can pay all your bills without help. Therefore, at least 60 days before you sign a contract make sure you do not get any money from friends or family. Also, do not make any large cash deposits. These will look suspicious to your lender. 

Cashier’s Check 

Is a cashier’s check an acceptable form of payment? You can pay earnest money with a cashier’s check. In fact, this is probably the best way to do it. With a cashier’s check there is no doubt that the funds are available. Since the bank withdrew from your bank account to write the check there is no margin for error with this approach. 

Personal Check 

Is a personal check an acceptable form of payment? You can pay earnest money with a personal check. This is not as reliable as a cashier’s check, though. Here are a couple reasons why: 

  • It usually takes 1 – 3 days for a personal check to clear 
  • Amounts may change in the accounts as bills get taken out 

Personal checks are a good way to pay because they provide a paper trail. However, if money goes in and out of your account quickly then you may want to think about using a cashier’s check. 

Wire Transfer 

Is a wire transfer an acceptable form of payment? Wire transfers are another great way to deposit your money in escrow. CertifID tells us that a wire transfer simply sends money electronically from one bank to another. It is usually faster and safer than a check. A couple things to keep in mind are: 

  • Banks often require you to go to the bank to send large sums of money 
  • Banks often charge a fee 

This is also a secure form of deposit, because it goes directly from one account to another. You do not have to give a check, or any other document to your real estate agent or attorney. They, also, do not have to go and deposit it in the proper account. 

How to Pay Earnest Money Without a Check Online 

One of the newer ways to pay EMDs is with online tools. These provide a fast, secure way to account for the deposit. These take the money directly from your bank account and deposit them into the proper escrow account. A couple of the more popular online tools include: 

Your real estate agent, attorney, or title company are probably integrated with an online tool already. Ask about this option if you are interested. The one thing to keep in mind with these services is that they usually charge a processing fee. 

Final Thoughts on How to Pay Earnest Money Without a Check

While writing a check for your EMD may seem old fashioned many people still prefer this form of payment. On the other hand, technology has evolved, and there are other ways to deposit the funds. Wire transfers are more efficient than ever, and even newer online forms of deposit are becoming popular. In fact, you should talk to your real estate agent about the various forms that they may have integrated to make the process secure and seamless. Just keep in mind that if you do not deposit the money on time, you will be in breach of contract.