What is an option fee?

In Texas an option fee is money paid by a buyer to a seller for the option to terminate a real estate contract. Option fee funds are not earnest funds. The option fee and the time allotted to terminate is discussed in section 23 of the resale contract. sample 1-4 resale contract

The termination option period gives the buyer are given time to fully evaluate the condition of the property and perhaps renegotiate the initial offer based on inspections, needed repairs, or other considerations. During the option period, buyers may either terminate the contract or proceed to purchase the home.

This fee is due within 3 days of the effective date of the contract. The payment is made out to the seller and should be delivered to the seller within the allotted time or the buyer WILL NOT have a termination option period. If the buyer does not have a termination option period and they choose to cancel, the buyer might lose their earnest funds.


The option fee and numbers of days allotted for termination are negotiable. Typically you will see an option fee of $100-$300 for 7-10 days.

To avoid problems:

  1. Make your option fee payment by personal check or cashier’s check. Do not pay cash
  2. Make the check out to the seller on record. Do not make it out to anyone else, including the real estate agents involved.
  3. Deliver the payment within the 3 days allowed
  4. Request a receipt reflecting delivered.

The option fee will or will not be credited towards the buyer’s purchase if they proceed with the purchase. If the buyer should cancel the contract, they will lose this fee.

Can the option period be extended?

Possibly. Both the seller and buyer have to agree. The extension should be completed in writing and will involve an additional fee to be paid upon execution of the extension. Usually this occurs if additional inspections need to be completed or if inspections were not completed within the set amount of time due to a delay in utilities being installed. If you feel that you need an extension, speak to your Realtor® and discuss your options.

During the option period, the seller can continue to negotiate and accept back-up offers from other potential buyers.