Contingent Offers

Contingencies are conditions that must be met to finalize a real estate transaction. They are in the contract to protect the buyers and sellers. A contingency is an opportunity to cancel the sale if issues develop with the property and/or transaction process. Removing or not including contingencies can make an offer more attractive to a seller but it can also leave the buyer unprotected.

5 Home Contingency Clauses:

The home inspection contingency clause is the most critical. It should be done by a neutral professional inspector to assess the major systems of the home. This will include electrical, plumbing, roofing, and structure. Without this contingency, the buyer has no recourse to issues and problems with the house. This is also true for waving the buyer’s ability to request the seller to make repairs. This is an important secondary negotiation between the parties. Many are selling “As Is” sales and there are buyers also that agree not to ask for repairs.

The home appraisal contingency clause tells the value of the home you want to buy. It will tell you whether you’re offering a fair price for the home or offering to pay too much. If the appraisal is too far below the price you’ve offered for the home, you can change your offer or back out of the deal altogether, if you wish.

The appraisal is also what the banks use to determine the amount and terms of the home loan to offer you. If the appraisal comes in too high, the bank loan you’re offered may not be enough to cover your costs to buy the home, and, to proceed with the transaction in spite of that, you’ll have to come up with the difference on your own.

The financing or mortgage contingency clause is another extremely common clause in real estate contracts. This clause states that your offer will be contingent on your ability to obtain financing. The financing clause will specify the type of financing you wish to obtain, the terms of the financing, and the amount of time you will have to apply for and be approved for a loan.

The financing contingency can be helpful for buyers because it protects you if your loan or financing falls through at the last minute and you are unable to secure financing at the last minute. This contingency will allow you to back out of the transaction without facing any legal consequences or losing the money you put up as part of your earned deposit. The financing contingency is one reason why sellers prefer working with all-cash buyers who will not need financing in order to buy.

The financing contingency protects the buyer because the buyer will only be obligated to complete the transaction if they are to secure financing or a loan from a bank or other financial institution.

The home sale contingency clause you can add to an offer to protect you in case your current home doesn’t sell. It states that you won’t purchase the home unless your existing house successfully closes within a certain time period—usually between one and two months. 

After that, you may be able to extend the contract with the seller’s permission. But if the seller doesn’t want to wait any longer for your home to sell, the contract will be void.

The title contingency clause will investigate the title of a home to make sure there are no problems with the ownership of the home. The title serves as a record of homeownership and is essential to the sale of the property. In most cases, any issues with the title can be resolved before the closing process. However, this situation could lead to several challenges for the potential new homeowners in some cases. A few examples include a lien on the property that must be paid before the sale or perhaps an ownership dispute if the seller cannot legally prove they own the property. A title contingency protects potential owners from these situations by allowing them the opportunity to walk away if these issues are not resolved before closing.

The Bottom Line: As a buyer, contingencies are vital: They provide you with an escape hatch from the property purchase if, for example, your mortgage financing falls through or other uncontrollable events or discoveries create barriers to your finalizing the deal. However, they make your offer less attractive to the seller. In hot markets with competitive bidding situations, buyers sometimes omit or waive certain contingencies altogether.

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Seller’s Market: Make Your Offer Stand Out

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important decisions a person will make in their lifetime. Financial stress is often compounded in a seller’s market when there is heavy competition among buyers. If you want your offer to be the most attractive, here are some tips.

Get preapproved. The one resounding rule all real estate experts will agree on is to get a mortgage preapproval before you begin your search for a new home. If you want to look like a serious buyer, the first thing you need to do is show the seller that you can actually close on the home. Get a mortgage preapproval – not just a pre-qualification – letter, and if you are a cash buyer, submit proof of funds with the offer.

Work with an experienced Realtor. Find someone you trust who truly knows the local market. Even better when that Realtor has connections to other Realtors — not only to view the non-public listings but also will know what other properties in neighborhoods you like might come on the market soon.  In today’s hot seller’s market, you’ll need someone who can steer you away from pitfalls, is a master negotiator, fiercely devoted to putting your best interests first, and can multi-task. The right agent can make a world of difference.

Up your earnest money deposit. If the house you’re making an offer on is the be-all-end-all, and you can’t imagine not living in it, prepare to boost your earnest money deposit. Show the seller that you mean business and you’re prepared to do what it takes. Your Realtor will be able to guide you to that perfect number that will prove your worthy.

Waive the inspection contingency. Most sellers are anxious about the home inspection. They worry that the buyer will ask for major repairs. This is an aggressive tactic that can be risky but yield positive results. Talk to your Realtor because right now, buyers have had an inspector attend home showings with them to do a quick on-site inspection. In the end, if you have the financial means to play it out this way, then the additional cost of making your own repairs is a risk you might be willing to take in order to get the house you want.

The key to getting your offer accepted in this heated market is to present the easiest, stress-free scenario for a seller.  The fewer demands you make as a buyer, the more likely it is that your offer will be accepted. Contingencies come in many forms, and the fewer of them you have, the more attractive your offer will be. Keep the offer straightforward.

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Get the Edge in a Seller’s Market

A seller’s market is when there are more people buying houses than there are houses for sale.  If you’re looking to buy a home right now, it may be hard to get one at a fair price. In the most sought-after areas, houses are going under contract in a matter of days, even hours. What can you do to be prepared if you must buy a home now?

Hire the best Realtor

Do a search on Realtors. Get the best, with the most experience, you can find. This will give you the advantage you need in a competitive market as she/he will be on the frontlines, keeping you in the know at all times.

Be ready to act instantly

No matter where you live, listings for homes in popular neighborhoods are often few and far between. When these homes do hit the market, they don’t last long. If your heart is set on buying in one of the more popular areas, starting your house hunt early and having patience means that when the moment comes, you’ll need to act quickly.

If you’re really interested in a home, ask your Realtor to get as much info as you can beforehand: property reports, disclosures, etc. Keep your schedule open so that when a home becomes available, you can get to it immediately. .

Get pre-approved

One of the smartest things you can do to ensure your chances of getting the home you want. This part can very well make or break the process. Assume others will be putting in an offer as well and having a pre-approval letter in your hand will give you an edge.

Having your lender verify your ability to afford a home loan for a certain amount lets the seller know you are qualified and motivated. It shows financial security which gives the seller the confidence to feel that the sale will go smoothly with you.

Keep your offer simple

Most offers include contingencies- things like completing inspections and receiving a mortgage commitment -that needs to happen for the transaction to move forward.

When looking at offers, sellers tend to see contingencies as potential opportunities for the deal to fall apart. As a result, they’re more likely to choose an offer that’s relatively “clean” or reduces their risk of potential hang-ups.

In a competitive market, you might see other buyers removing or reducing their contingency periods to make their offer more competitive.

But remember! If you choose to, for example, waive an inspection contingency, you’re agreeing to buy the home regardless of what problems may exist. You’ve got to be OK with that.

Start with a strong sale price

Besides keeping your contingencies in check, there is another component of the offer that will help set you apart from the crowd and it’s fairly obvious — the offer price.

If it is possible for you, consider putting down a larger deposit which will let the seller know you are serious. Be flexible with the closing date to accommodate the seller’s schedule. And know that the sellers are likely to be enticed by a big payout, or if possible, a cash offer. Offer the asking price – and even more, if you think you can swing it. Use a mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payments will look like.

Write a personal note to the seller

Remember that many sellers have an emotional attachment to their home and moving is often hard for them. They’ve put their heart and soul into the home, built families, and made memories in the home. Write a note letting them know why you love their home and how you plan to take care of it. They may love to hear how their home will be in good hands.

Be prepared to negotiate

The whole experience of buying a home is emotional and if the home you are trying to buy has multiple offers, this isn’t the time to throw in a lot of extras. Keep the contract as clean as possible by not asking for extras such as closing cost changes, home warranties, appliances or furniture.

The Bottom Line: Be flexible. As a buyer in a seller’s market, not everything will go the way you want it to. Be patient. If you are working with the best Realtor, they will have the experience to keep you calm while guiding you in the right direction.

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