When you say "lose the use of my money till someone decides to send it back to me" you seem to be missing one thing. Reputable brokers do not deposit your check until the deal is ratified. In other words, no one actually has use of your money until you have a deal. If the deal does not get ratified they hand your check back. Only once there is a deal, the money is placed in escrow.
The tradition of 10% earnest money goes back to before I was a kid in the 1960's and was not invented by brokers, but by buyers and sellers. As it was explained to me under the law of that time, neither buyer or seller had any legal standing if the other defaulted and they did not have significant money out of pocket.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay