Whether or not one receives assistance from their employer for relocation, it is always advisable to find a good agent with a reputable brokerage, with a strong relocation department. Relo companies who serve the corporations place stringent requirements on agents working relo (ethics, productivity, communication skills, attention to details).
Once you find out if the move is a 'go', then a good agent will show you your options. Remember, the services are most often paid out of the listing/seller's side when closing. So, you reap many benefits by working with an agent, especially in a buyers' market. Earnest money should accompany a written contract (Purchase Agreement), only if you are serious about the property and you know you will absolutely move (unless you plan on purchasing as an investment and leasing to another). Good luck!