The C word – it’s not well understood, so it’s not well liked. But, we should no longer feel the need to whisper it only in dark shadows after certain hours. Unless you’re a first-time home buyer or have been renting, there’s a chance you’ll need to sell your home before purchasing a new one. And the safest way for a buyer to do this is through a contingency. Let it be known, this is a beautiful risk and has pretty perks, so for those of you who see the glass half full, this one’s for you. For the rest, as they say, pour your liquid into a smaller cup and no longer fear this scenario.
What does it Mean?
By definition, it means a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty. In real estate, this clause defines a condition or action that must be met in order for a real estate contract to become binding (as aforementioned, with a home sale contingency in place, the transaction is dependent upon the sale of the buyer’s home). The contingency becomes part of a binding sales contract when both parties agree to the terms and sign the contract.
Why is it Risky?
To Sellers: the main risk is that there is no guarantee that the home will sell. Before agreeing to a contingency, a seller may want to do their due diligence, for instance: is the home already for sale, is the list price attractive, what’s the sales time for homes in the neighborhood.
To Buyers: Buyers must still spend the same amount of money on home inspections, repair negotiations, appraisal fee (to name a few) and the buyer does not get these monies back if the deal falls through due to their property not selling on time. Also, because sellers are taking a gamble of sorts of the buyers ability to sell their current property, buyers need to make their offer as attractive as possible so that the seller will consider this risk.
What are the Benefits?
To Sellers: One major benefit is that the home can continue to be shown, and the seller can continue to receive offers. If the seller accepts a written offer, the seller is required to notify the buyer of such acceptance. Per the contract, the buyer has a specified amount of time (say, 2-3 days) to either remove the contingency and put down additional earnest money, or the contract terminates automatically and the earnest money is refunded to the buyer. A home sale contingency might also be a good thing if the seller has had the property on the market for a while and is unable to find a buyer. A contract with a contingency is still a contract, and there is a chance that the property will sell.
To Buyers: A home sale contingency gives buyers the opportunity to not miss out on the home they want, while allowing them time to sell their property. This way, buyers can avoid owning two homes and holding two mortgages at one time while waiting for their own home to sell. A home sale contingency can allow the buyer to sell their property with peace of mind knowing their next purchase is already in motion.
Why is it Misunderstood?
Many may only see the risks and not truly understand the benefits. Home sale contingencies protect buyers who want to sell one home before purchasing another. Upon receiving or writing a contract involving a contingency, it is important to review and understand the terms of the sale. This is something your real estate agent should be able to explain in detail to you. Fear not the world of contingencies, as knowledge is power!