A lot depends on the price of the property you're trying to acquire. If it's a $40K property, I wouldn't offer that amount of earnest money. If it's a $250K property, I'd offer more. However, If I were buying a short-sale, I would provide $100 earnest money at time of contract and another $900 at the time the lender gives written acceptance of the contract terms. Otherwise you're risking far too much money for something that will likely take many months to close, if it ever closes at all. Most agents will ask for the full amount of earnest money at the time of contract simply because that's the way it's always done, but there's no way I would risk that much up front as your chances of moving on to another property are quite high.