Real Estate Deposit vs Down Payment

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When you’re selling your home, you have to be familiar with related real-estate lingo. You have to know the difference between a canopy and an awning; a mortgage and a loan; and most importantly, the difference between a deposit and a down payment.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of home sellers who think that deposits and down payments are one and the same, when in reality they are not.

A deposit is the money given or handed over to the owner when a buyer indicates a sincere desire to purchase the property being sold. It is a token amount that could be as small as a few hundred dollars, or as big as 5% of the total purchase price. The deposit can be returned when the transaction does not fall through for reasons beyond the control of the buyer, and can also be forfeited in favour of the seller. When the purchase pushes through, the deposit is credited to the buyer and forms part of his down payment.

A down payment or equity, on the other hand, can be considered as an initial payment on the property itself. It is given when the buyer has decided to actually purchase the house (unlike in deposit, where it is given when the buyer indicates a desire to buy the unit). The down payment is the total amount of money a buyer can give as a partial payment and is generally of a bigger value (10% of the total property cost, or more) than regular deposits.

It’s fairly easy to differentiate. Just remember that a deposit is smaller and, once the transaction pushes through, becomes part of the down payment. The total of these two, plus any outstanding balance, should be the agreed upon purchase price of the property.