Initial offer - not accepted no risk no matter how many negotiations.
Accepted offer - possible risk
Accepted offer after inspection negotiation - possible risk
Accepted offer before signing p&s - possible risk
Accepted offer financing contingency - possilble risk
Why I say possible risk above is there is always the chance, although unlikely, that the seller won't release you and want to hold the deposit. Which can require an attorney to represent you to obtain it back. However your attorney should of been protecting you from the P&S stand point and your buyers agent should of been protecting you from the offering standpoint. Very simple language in the offer is all it takes. Subject to a mutually acceptable purchase and sales agreement. Subject to a formal inspection and approval of the premises by the buyer and or their agents. Subject to the buyer obtaining a mortgage and or an appraisal at or greater than the purchase price.
Keep us posted.
If there is no written agreement, your deposit could be safe, but this is really a question for your attorney who knows the details of your offer(s).
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I think your answer may be in your question. If you are still negotiating then you have not reached a mutual agreement between you and the seller. So I'm not sure what deposit money you have given. Are you referring to the initial $$ that accompany the offer as a deposit to make it binding?. Do you have a buyer's agent representing you or are you buying directly from the seller yourself? (this is one of the reasons, as already mentioned here, to have your own agent/broker so he/she can guide you through the process). In any case, since it is not quite clear from the information provided, and it looks as though this may be or become a legal issue, you should talk to your attorney. Keep us posted Good luck
If that is a case, no your deposit money should not be at risk. There has never been an acceptance of terms on wither party parts. For your deposit money to be at risk you would have to come to terms and have a signed contract with all parties signatures on the contract.
Basically for a contract to be valid there needs to be offer and acceptance. From what I see there has been no acceptance.
If it is in question, consult an attorney to make sure your protected.
Agreed with the answers below. If you don't have the terms formally agreed upon, and a contract signed by both parties, then in reality you have nothing and your deposit should be returned.
I'm a little confused as to why a deposit was given to the seller at all. Generally, earnest money is only given to the seller AFTER at least the purchase price/financing terms/closing date have been agreed to by both parties, and you have a signed contract by both the buyer & seller.
I am guessing you are working without a Buyer's Agent and would strongly encourage you gainst do-it-yourself approaches. If you are a 1st time buyer, I'd suggest you to work with an Accredited Buyer Rep or another agent experienced in working with 1st time buyers, so you'll know that agent represents your interests, rather than buyers and guides you through the entire process step-by-step without you loosing sleep over simple items. There are a lot of steps in the process and the initial steps are not the most difficult!
If you do not come to terms, you do not lose your deposit.
I hope this helps!
Lets assume you are putting 20% down and there is a $5000 difference between you and the seller. Accepting the $5 extra in purchase price will cost you $1k in down payment money. Your monthly payment will go up too but just by a few $. If its a house you really want, find a way.