Your biggest up-front cost when buying a home in San Francisco is the deposit—typically three percent of the purchase price. And that’s all you should ever wire into escrow. Limit your deposit to three percent, and no more.
There are situations when a seller can claim damages in excess of three percent. (Sellers can claim damages if a buyer backs out of a contract for reasons that aren’t due to a contingency like financing or inspections.)
If a property is newly constructed, in a project with ten or more adjoined units and the seller has performed a complicated accounting process that indicates that actual damages exceed three percent, that seller may legally make a case for keeping more than three percent.
But even if all these conditions exist, the amount of damages is still limited to what’s in escrow. So if your deposit is three percent, that’s the most a seller can attempt to keep.