In our area, the asset manager, Sage Acquisitions, requires that the EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) be in certified funds payable to the buyer's settlement agent of choice also known as the "BSCA"--the Buyer Select Settlement Agent.
The BSCA must have a HUD title ID number and if they don't have one, they can apply for one. It's free to obtain.
The amount of EMD required by HUD is as follows:
Land and Lots 50% of the purchase price
$50,000 & less $500.00
$50,0001 & more $1,000.00