Earnest Money, What is it for? Where does it go? When you enter into a real estate contract earnest money is put up by the buyer to let the seller know that the buyer is genuine about their offer to purchase the property. Earnest money is held by one of the brokers thats named on the contract. It is deposited pretty much when the contract goes binding. The money is then taken to closing and the buyer shall receive credit on the settlement statement for the earnest money as part of their down payment.