When you buy a house the earnest money should be paid by check or how? escrow help please?

There is a house that I saw online that looks pretty nice and I am interested in it however if I go and see the house do I have to put earnest money down? Do I pay by check or should I wait till I contact the bank where I am going to be getting the mortgage from first? I just wanna protect myself, How will I... show more There is a house that I saw online that looks pretty nice and I am interested in it however if I go and see the house do I have to put earnest money down?
Do I pay by check or should I wait till I contact the bank where I am going to be getting the mortgage from first?

I just wanna protect myself, How will I be sure whom owns the house before giving earnest money. Right now I am searching the net and I am getting emails from someone saying they can show me some houses to look at, but when I search the link it says some other real estate agents name on the house that is being sold.

I am not saying this guy is not legit *the right person* who is representing the seller, I am just concerned and want to know the process for putting earnest money down?

Now if I put cash down and they give me a receipt is that a sure way of protecting myself and the money that I put down as a good faith effort, earnest money.

The bottom line is I need to know the process for buying a house!
Update: The actual house will be sold by another real estate agent I believe. I am just curious?
Update 2: Is it common practice for a real estate agent to send me a list of houses for sale via the web and then he is not the actual realtor involved in selling the house?
Is this normal practice?
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