In New York it is not generally referred to as earnest money, but the deposit is required by the contract. What is unusual here is that the amount that is normally put into the contract is 10%. Now with the over abundance of low down payment purchases, some sellers attorney's will negotiate for less. The down payment money, as it states in the contract, is held in escrow by the seller's attorney in a non-interest bearing account. Also, on the higher priced homes there are times when people can also negotiate a lower down payment on contract simply because no one wants to liquidate over $100,000 to put down their 10%, and are also not willing to jeapordize that much money if something happens to the deal.