It doesn't have to be that complicated. Start with a disclosure of financials on which they can base an offer. If you get letter on intent, you can then disclose CI. At least in California, a non binding LOI will obligate the buyer to negotiate in good faith ((unless they draft around it, which is possible) so you can take some comfort in that. BTW, the idea of a deposit is not so crazy. I am seeing that more and more with Asian buyers who are notorious for not closing and it is not so unlike the old breakup fees that used to be demanded. Finally, you should probably shop the deal before signing anything. It's possible that this one party is the best offer, but is that really likely?