The Purpose Of Earnest Money

A contract is already a proof that two or more persons have entered an agreement. However, there are instances when a written contract is not enough to determine one's sincerity in fulfilling what has been agreed on. An earnest money or "arras" is usually given by the prospective buyer to the seller. This is to show that the buyer is interested in purchasing the property. The main purpose of the earnest money is to bind the bargain. It is also considered as part of the purchase price and will be deducted from the total price. Once the earnest money is given to the seller, it will perfect the contract of sale. A payment will only be considered an earnest money if it constitutes as part of the purchase price. The money will be refunded if the sale did not push through. 

Here is a scenario of how an earnest money is determined:

On March 28, 1990, respondent, through his counsel Atty. Ponciano Espiritu, wrote petitioners informing them of his readiness to pay the balance of the contract price and requesting them to prepare the final deed of sale.[3]

On April 4, 1990, petitioners, through Atty. Ruben V. Lopez, sent a letter[4] to respondent stating that petitioner Amparo Herrera is leaving for abroad on or before April 15, 1990 and that they are canceling the transaction. Petitioners also informed respondent that he can recover the earnest money of P100,000.00 anytime.

Again, on April 6, 1990,[5] petitioners wrote respondent stating that they delivered to his counsel Philippine National Bank Managers Check No. 790537 dated April 6, 1990 in the amount of P100,000.00 payable to him.

In view of the cancellation of the contract by petitioners, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, Makati City a complaint against them for specific performance and damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 90-1067.[6]

On June 27, 1994, after hearing, the trial court rendered its Decision[7] finding there was a perfected contract of sale between the parties and ordering petitioners to execute a final deed of sale in favor of respondent. The trial court held:

x x x

In the evaluation of the evidence presented by the parties as to the issue as to who was ready to comply with his obligation on the verbal agreement to sell on March 23, 1990, shows that plaintiffs position deserves more weight and credibility. First, the P100,000.00 that plaintiff paid whether as downpayment or earnest money showed that there was already a perfected contract. Art. 1482 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, reads as follows, to wit:

Art. 1482. Whenever earnest money is given in a contract of sale, it shall be considered as part of the price and as proof of the perfection of the contract.

Second, plaintiff was the first to react to show his eagerness to push through with the sale by sending defendants the letter dated March 25, 1990. (Exh. D) and reiterated the same intent to pursue the sale in a letter dated April 6, 1990. Third, plaintiff had the balance of the purchase price ready for payment (Exh. C). Defendants mere allegation that it was plaintiff who did not appear on March 23, 1990 is unavailing. Defendants letters (Exhs. 2 and 5) appear to be mere afterthought.

Pinoy Attorney

Written by : Pinoy Attorney