TrustFunds (1)

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

TrustFunds is revolutionizing the earnest money process for buyers, agents, and trust account holders. Choose a category below for answers to some of your most common questions.

Is the system secure?

TrustFunds maintains physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards that comply with or exceed industry standards to protect non-public, confidential information. TrustFunds utilizes third-party vendors for security and operational auditors.

What is the Automated Clearing House (ACH)?

The ACH Network is at the center of commerce in the U.S., moving money from one bank account to another through Direct Payment via ACH transactions. Each year, the ACH Network moves more than $40 trillion and nearly 23 billion electronic financial transactions, and currently supports more than 90 percent of the total value of all electronic payments in the U.S. As such, the ACH Network is one of the largest, safest and most reliable payment systems. ACH transactions will deposit within four business days.

How soon can TrustFunds be used?

TrustFunds is available in participating MLS markets. The Designated Trust Account Holder registration process takes about two business days. Buyer's agents with a participating MLS may use TrustFunds immediately.

Who is a Designated Trust Account Holder ("DTAH")?

A Designated Trust Account Holder is any entity that holds earnest money in its trust account(s) either as required by state statute or as agreed to in a purchase agreement between a buyer and seller. These entities may include real estate brokers, title companies, escrow companies and law firms.

Who needs to be a member of TrustFunds for the buyer to submit earnest money electronically?

The MLS and the DTAH must be members of TrustFunds.

What is the cost for a DTAH to join TrustFunds and how long is the contract?

TrustFunds is a month-to-month service with no contract term. DTAHs pay a nominal monthly service fee (tiered based upon volume) and as little as $0.25 per earnest money transaction. All terms and fees are provided following an initial Authentication Process, and if considered unacceptable, simply abandon the registration process at any time with no obligation to join.

If a DTAH has more than one office, does it need to register each office?

No. Registration is for the entire company (per MLS market) and individual office registration is not needed.

Can a DTAH have more than one trust account?

Yes. A DTAH can have any number of trust accounts necessary to operate its business. TrustFunds is designed to direct earnest money payments from buyers to the correct trust account based on the management of the trust accounts. For example, a DTAH may have two trust accounts if licensed in two states; one trust account for transactions in one state and another trust account for transactions in another state. In addition, a DTAH may have different trust accounts for each office.

How long does a DTAH have access to transaction data in TrustFunds?

The transaction information in the transaction table is available until 10 days after the property closes. DTAHs continue to have access to the transaction data in the Virtual Terminal indefinitely, provided they are an active member of TrustFunds.

Does TrustFunds receive the earnest money payment?

No. An earnest money payment is sent from the buyer's bank account directly to the designated trust account. The transfer occurs via an ACH account the DTAH opens with TrustFunds' ACH processor. DTAH does not need to change its trust account(s), nor manage them any differently.

How does a DTAH reconcile deposits to the trust account(s)?

Full reporting and file export is available to DTAHs in the TrustFunds Virtual Terminal.

Who is a Designated Trust Account Holder ("DTAH")?

A Designated Trust Account Holder is any entity that holds earnest money in its trust account(s) either as required by state statute or as agreed to in a purchase agreement between a buyer and seller. These entities may include real estate brokers, title companies, escrow companies and law firms.

Can I use TrustFunds even if the property is not listed with the MLS?

In order to use TrustFunds, the listing must appear in the MLS. TrustFunds updates its data from MLS on an hourly basis, so if you enter the listing (even with a pending status) it will be eligible for an earnest money request yet today.

What is the cost to Agents to join TrustFunds?

Agents pay nothing to participate. Buyers pay a nominal convenience fee to process the earnest money payment online in TrustFunds. The buyer's agent may opt, at any time, to pay the convenience fee on behalf of the buyer.

Who needs to be a member of TrustFunds for the buyer to submit earnest money electronically?

The MLS and the DTAH must be members of TrustFunds.

Can a buyer's agent use TrustFunds even if their broker is not a member?

Yes, all agents of a participating MLS have the ability to use TrustFunds when representing buyers, as long as the DTAH is a TrustFunds member.

Is paying the earnest money through TrustFunds different from writing a check to the listing agent?

Yes and no. Both are processed through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) and therefore an earnest money deposit through TrustFunds is processed in the same manner and same time-frame as a check that has been presented to a bank. The difference is when the payment is made electronically through TrustFunds, the earnest money is deposited more quickly because the check is not being driven all around town. Plus, the transaction status is immediately available to all parties involved in the real estate transaction.

How does an agent facilitate the earnest money payment for the buyer?

The buyer's agent will create an Earnest Money Request for a specific property by populating a few pieces of information. This will automatically generate an email notification to the buyer with a secure link to pay online. This entire process takes just a few minutes, instead of the hours spent getting a paper check from the buyer to the DTAH.

Can TrustFunds be used if the property is not in the MLS?

No. TrustFunds uses the MLS property data for all transactions.

If a buyer does not have an email address, can the agent send the request to their own email address and complete the payment for them?

No. Because of the nature of the transaction, buyers need to complete the Earnest Money Payment Request. It would be acceptable for an agent to assist the buyer to process their own transaction.

If a buyer provides a paper check, can the agent enter the information into TrustFunds rather than delivering the check to the DTAH?

No. Banking rules require that if a paper check is presented, it needs to be presented to the bank or properly scanned for processing.

With TrustFunds, what, if anything, should the buyer include with the offer?

TrustFunds provides the buyer a much more secure and convenient alternative to the paper check by allowing the buyer to submit the earnest money electronically. The buyer's agent could certainly include language in the purchase agreement informing the seller that it is the buyer's intention to submit the earnest money electronically using TrustFunds.

How does the agent know the status of the earnest money payment?

In the agent profile, an agent may choose to enable or disable notifications that will be generated each time the transaction status is updated. In addition, an agent may view all transaction data at any time in their Transactions table.

How does the buyer provide the lender with proof of the earnest money payment?

Previously, a buyer was required to provide the lender with both a copy of their bank statement, along with a copy of the front and back of the earnest money check. With TrustFunds, a buyer's agent may furnish the TrustFunds Payment History to the lender, which provides all of the details of the earnest money payment.

Does a buyer have access to TrustFunds with the ability to submit earnest money prior to the final acceptance of a purchase agreement?

No. Buyers will only submit earnest money in response to receiving an Earnest Money Payment Request Notification from their agent. Agents must certify as part of the Earnest Money Payment Request that there is a valid purchase agreement between buyer and seller.

What if the purchase agreement is canceled after the earnest money payment was made?

The DTAH has the capability in TrustFunds to electronically refund the earnest money to the buyer. They may elect to issue the refund via paper check (outside of TrustFunds).

What if the buyer submits earnest money from someone's bank account other than their own?

In the Earnest Money Payment Form, the buyer identifies the name of the bank account holder for the account from which the earnest money is coming. That information appears in the Payment History in TrustFunds. In such event, a buyer's agent should confirm whether or not it is acceptable to the buyer's lender that the earnest money is from someone other than the buyer (e.g. gift funds).

How long does an agent have access to transaction data in TrustFunds?

The transaction information in the agent's transaction tables is available until 10 days after the property closes. While it disappears from the agent's transaction tables, all transaction data is available to the DTAH permanently.

Does an agent have access to transaction information in TrustFunds if the agent changes brokers?

Yes. An agent continues to have access to transaction information in the agent's transaction tables, even if the agent changes brokers during a pending transaction, provided the agent continues to be an active member of the MLS.

Can Agents' assistants and team members use TrustFunds?

Yes, TrustFunds supports the real estate team concept. An agent may simply modify their profile to establish their team. All team members have access to the transaction data in the transaction tables.

The convenience, security, and accountability of TrustFunds are the end of the paper earnest money check.