Maybe We’d Consider Your Contingent Offer if it Weren’t so Crappy

J Philip Faranda September 9, 2011

BehaveUpon occasion, we recieve a “contingent” offer on a listing. Most offers have contingencies, such as mortgage and inspection. But in Westchester and New York, a “contingent offer” is one where the buyer still needs to sell their own house (in nearby Fairfield County, CT it is known as a “Hubbard Clause”). Most of the time, our client wants nothing to do with waiting for another home to sell in order for them to sell their own. But what really makes the arrangement untenable is when the rest of the terms of the offer give us no reason to even consider the deal, even if the buyer’s home is quite salable. 

When negotiating, win/win works best. If something about your offer is less attractive, you have to compensate somehow by adding something that is attractive. In other words, if you want the seller to take their home off the market (and wait for your home to sell risking that it won’t and they’ll lose 60-90 days on market), you can’t expect them to embrace a low number. What’s in it for them? Why wouldn’t they just keep their home on the market and wait for a higher offer? 

Price and terms. Price and terms. Those are the magic words. Not just price, not just terms. They go hand in hand. Cash buyers know this, and that is why they leverage their strong terms with a lower price so often. They have leverage. On the other hand, if you are making a contingent offer, you have no leverage. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Moreover, you are asking the seller for a huge favor, which is to share your own risk that your house might not sell. And yet we get some people who still make a low offer! Why would a seller do this? 

If a buyer truly believes that they can sell their own home and want to make a contingent offer to buy, they need to understand that their offer must be strong- very strong- to compensate for their contingency. It’s only logical. If you are going to make a contingent offer, and you want to be taken seriously, don’t lowball. A strong contingent offer just might be considered. And if you are making an offer on the home where you’ll want your loved ones to live, don’t you want your offer seriously considered?  

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