An earnest payment is money set-aside into an escrow account after a home buyer and seller sign a sale contract. Setting aside money ensures the seller that the buyer is serious about the purchase. The contract is an agreement that the buyer will purchase the house or other object if inspections go well, financing is approved, and maybe other requirements are met. If the specified requirements are not met, the buyer can regain the earnest payment, but if the buyer breaks the agreement for a reason not included in the contract, the buyer forfeits the earnest payment.
[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]