Contingent House: Guide for Buyers and Sellers

Contingent house
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Buying a house with a contingent sale can be stressful at times. Though there are safeguards in place in the form of contingencies that can protect you as you progress in your home buying process, these contingencies can have a significant impact on a house with a contingent offer. However price is almost the most important factor for both the buyer and seller, but contingencies are a close second. Read on to know the procedures for making an offer on a contingent house sale.

What Is a Contingent House?

A contingent house means that someone has made an offer on the house and the seller has accepted it. However, some further contingencies must be met before the final transaction. These contingencies are clauses in the sales contract which include appraisal, home inspection, and mortgage approval issues. 

A contingency is a set of requirements in the purchase agreement that you must complete before the house goes on contingent sale. Usually, most of the contingencies in the agreement will be from the buyer, but some may be from the seller.

Contingent House Offer

When a buyer makes a contingent offer on a house, they are effectively stating; “I’d like to buy the property, but I need to make sure to resolve some things before closing the sale.”Take note that what a seller may desire in a contingent house sale may not come with any contingency. Of course, the buyer wants to create an offer that protects them by adding contingencies. But a situation where you back out of your offer without a contingency escape clause, you may lose the earnest money you agreed on to complete the sale.

However, adding contingencies might be problematic, especially in a market where there is a lot of contingent house buying activity. Other prospective buyers may make an offer without a contingency, letting their offer appear more acceptable than yours to the seller. For instance, if you have a contingency that your own house must sell for you to complete another purchase. And perhaps another buyer’s offer does not, the seller may decide that they do not want to wait. You should apply the contingency clause carefully to ensure that your offer is as appealing as possible.

It’s worth noting that you can make an offer on a contingent house. Just keep in mind that the nature of the contingent offer may be more intricate than you imagine. If the initial buyer’s sale falls through, another prospective buyer may have an opportunity to purchase the contingent house. This is why you should think about making a compelling backup offer for the seller

Tips For Making an Offer on a House with Contingent Listing

If you’re considering making an offer on a contingent house, there are a few things you can do to make your offer appealing. They include:

#1. Partner With a Real Estate Agent 

An experienced buying agent can assist you in obtaining information regarding the contingent house clauses. They can interact with the realtor to learn about the contingencies. This gives you a better understanding of how to structure your offer.

#2. Understand the Present Offer’s Contingencies 

Gather information about present contingencies so you can reduce your own to make your offer appear more appealing. For instance, if the current offer has a financial contingency, make sure you have your financing in place first. First, confirm your financing so that you can approach the seller with an offer that does not include that contingency.

#3. Make Contact With the Home Seller

A personal gesture can go a long way once you choose to make an offer on a kick-out contingent home. You could send an email or a letter to the home seller. If you can persuade them that their property is your ideal home; they may be more willing to consider your offer rather than prolonging the process with the contingent accepted offer.

#4. Try to Be Patient 

When you’re waiting to see how the present offer turns out, try to be patient. Avoid bothering the listing agent and home seller about the status of the contingent offer. This may irritate them and jeopardize your offer’s chances.

Is It Worth Looking at a House That Is Contingent?

This indicates that the present buyer’s offer is “unstable” and may fall through. As long as the new offer contains fewer stipulations than the present one, it is likely worthwhile for the prospective offeror to submit a new one.

Is It Better to Be Contingent or Pending?

A contingent sale indicates that the buyer and seller are waiting for certain requirements to be completed before finalizing the transaction, whereas a pending sale indicates that the conditions have been met and the deal is now being processed.

Types of Contingent Statuses

A home buyer may make a contingent offer on a property for a variety of reasons. The following is a list of the most prevalent sorts of common contingencies.

#1. Home appraisal contingency

A house appraisal contingency occurs when a sale is contingent on a home appraisal. This confirms that the home’s listing price is correct. Before awarding application money for their home, mortgage lenders typically need a home appraisal.

#2. Home inspection contingency 

A home inspection contingency occurs when the sale of a home is contingent on a home inspection. If the inspection reveals no severe faults with the home that could lead to a renegotiation of the sales price.

#3. Mortgage contingency

A mortgage contingency occurs when a home buyer is awaiting a notice from a lender. This is to know whether or not they have a home loan approval.

#4. Home sale contingency

A home sale contingency occurs when a buyer waits to sell an existing property before completing the buying of the contingent house.

#5. Title contingency

A title contingency permits the buyer to cancel their offer if they notice that the property does not have a clear title. This indicates that there are third-party claims against the property, such as liens or unpaid bills from the former owner. To meet a title contingency, buyers will review a title report or conduct a title check.

What’s the Difference Between Contingent and Under Contract?

If the sale of a home is contingent, it signifies that an offer has been accepted but a contract has not yet been finalized between the buyer and seller. However, the closing of the sale is contingent on the satisfaction of certain conditions on the part of the buyer and/or the seller.

Contingent House for Sale

In the case of a house with a contingent sale, the buyer is under no obligation to complete the buying of the new house unless their current home sells. If the transaction is reliant on the buyer’s home selling.  However, If the buyer’s house sells before the deadline, the contract continues.  But if it doesn’t, the contract is invalid.

These contingencies are usually good for one or two months, providing buyers a certain length of time to list their current home and find a buyer. If their house does not sell within this timeframe, the contract can be dissolved. There are two types of home sale contingencies which include:

  • Sale and settlement contingency
  • Settlement contingency

Sale and Settlement Contingency

A sale and settlement contingency is contingent on the buyer selling their home. If the buyer does not yet receive nor accept an offer to purchase their current house. You can employ this sort of contingency. In general, this type of contingency allows a seller to continue marketing the home to other potential buyers. Since the buyer will have the option to remove the sale and settlement contingencies within a specified period. This is usually within 24-48 hours if the seller receives another offer. But If the buyer is unable to remove the contingency, the contract is dissolved. Hence the seller may accept the other offer and will return the buyer’s earnest money deposit.

Settlement Contingency

A settlement contingency, on the other hand, is employed if the buyer has previously listed their home, has a contract in hand, and has a closing date set. Because the property isn’t fully sold until the closing, this protects the buyer if the sale falls through for whatever reason. The contract stays valid if the buyer’s home closes by the stipulated date. The contract can be terminated if the home does not close.

Home Sale Considerations for Buyers

A buyer may sell his primary residence to purchase a new one, especially if they are trading a more expensive home. A home sale contingency allows buyers to sell and close on a new home. Buyers can avoid owning two homes and carrying two mortgages at the same time while their own home is on the market. A home sale contingency can also facilitate a smooth transaction by allowing the buyer to sell one home and move into the next home.

Although a home sale contingency provides the buyer with peace of mind, it does not eliminate other fees associated with homeownership. The buyer will still pay for home inspections, bank fees, and appraisal fees.  If the deal falls through due to the property not selling on time, these expenses are not refunded.

Buyers may have to pay more for a home than they would if they made an offer without a home sale contingency. They are essentially asking the seller to “bet” on their ability to sell their current house, and the seller will expect to be reimbursed for taking this risk.

How Long Do Contingent Offers Last?

A home sale contingent offer usually lasts between 30 and 90 days. The length is set when the agreement to buy the house is made. When the buyer and seller sign the purchase agreement, they agree on a time frame for if something goes wrong.

Home Sale Considerations for Sellers

A contingent house sale might be problematic for sellers because there is no certainty that the home will sell. Even if the contract allows the seller to continue marketing the property and accepting offers, the house may be listed “under contract,” making it less appealing to other possible purchasers. Many people looking for a home will avoid a property that is under contract because they do not want to spend time and risk falling in love with a place that they may never have the opportunity to purchase. Before agreeing to a contingent house sale, the seller (or the seller’s real estate agent) should study the possible buyer’s current home to determine:

  • If the house is already on the market. If the contingent house is not on the market, this suggests that the possible buyer is only thinking about buying and selling at this time.
  • The proper price is on the list. A real estate agent can prepare comparable sales to ensure that the house is priced appropriately.
  • The length of time in the market. If it’s been a long time, the home may be overpriced. The selling process may be cumbersome, or the market may simply be dry.
  • The average time a home in the neighborhood is on the market. If the average time is 30 days or less, the home should sell. But if it is  90 days or more, the seller may wait for a little time the buyer’s home will sell.


When buying a house with a contingent offer. You need to understand some common contingencies mentioned above. You’ll be better prepared when you come across a house with a contingent status while you buying a house. Perhaps if you have your heart set on a specific house. Your real estate agent will undoubtedly advise you to remain to look at houses and even make other offers while the house you desire is on the market as a contingent listing.

This is especially essential in real estate markets with little housing inventory and a large number of purchasers. The last thing you want is to put all your eggs in one basket and have your offer rejected because a contingency failed to materialize. You may also want to negotiate clauses that limit the seller’s ability to accept fresh offers. Always rely on your real estate agent to assist you in negotiating the best conditions for your specific scenario.

Contingent House FAQs

What is the difference between contingent vs pending?

A pending house implies that the prospective buyer has met all of the contingencies. While a contingent house still has some contingencies that need to be addressed.

Who is a Contingent Beneficiary?

A contingent beneficiary is simply your fallback option. Primary beneficiaries will be named for various aspects of your estate plan, such as accounts, assets, and policies stated in your Trust or Will.

Should I accept a contingent offer when I sell my home?

The biggest reason you should be cautious of accepting a contingent offer is that it comes with a lot of risks. It’s difficult enough to sell a house as it is. If the sale of a second house held by someone else is also a factor, the process becomes much more stressful and unpredictable.

How do I beat an all-cash offer on a house?

The following are simple steps to beat an all-cash offer on a house;

  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
  • If you don’t want to deal with contingencies, don’t do it.
  • Increase the amount of earnest money you put down.
  • Make an offer that is higher than the asking price.
  • Include a guarantee against evaluation gaps.
  • Make it personal.
  • Consider making a cash offer.


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