NON CONTINGENT: Understanding What It Means

Non-contingent: Understanding what it means
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When describing a real estate purchase, the terms “contingent” or “contingencies” are often in the picture. And if you’ve ever bought or sold a house, you’re definitely familiar with these terms. Contingencies exist to secure both parties during a sale process, hence, particular requirements (or contingencies) must be met in order for the sale to close. Non-contingent offers, on the other hand, are the polar opposite of contingent offers in that they do not include any conditions or criteria in a purchase agreement. This article covers the distinction between a contingent and non-contingent offer, as well as whether or not a buyer can back out from a non-contingent offer.

First and foremost, let us define contingent.

What Does Contingent Mean? 

In real estate, contingent means that the sale of a property is under negotiation but dependent on one or more conditions.

A contingency is a set of requirements in a purchase agreement that a seller must meet before the sale is complete. Almost all contingencies in a contract will be imposed by the buyer, but they can also be imposed by the seller.

Consider contingencies to be provisions in a purchase contract.

When a buyer makes a contingent offer on a home, they’re basically stating, “I’d like to buy the house, but I need to make sure some things are in order on my end before closing the deal.”

A purchase agreement might include a variety of contingencies, each of which has a significant impact on whether the deal closes or not.

A contingent offer on a home is one that comprises one or more contingencies.

What Does Non-Contingent Mean?

The word non-contingent in every sense means not dependent, associated, or conditioned by something. To narrow it down to what it means in real estate terms, it would mean that the sale of a house or property is not contingent or dependent on any condition or contingencies

What Is  A Non-contingent Offer?

A non-contingent offer on a home indicates that the buyer didn’t place any conditions in their offer.

Assume you’re in the process of selling your home; would you prefer a buyer to make you an offer that is conditional on specific requirements or an offer that isn’t conditional at all?

A non-conditional offer right? This is why, in a hot real estate market where buyers are bidding against each other, you’ll see a lot of non-contingent bids.

When a buyer makes a non-contingent offer, they must recognize that all conditions have to be removed.

Difference Between a Contingent Offer and a Non-Contingent Offer

Some buyers may be compelled to make a non-contingent offer on a house they admire in today’s seller’s market. Buyers are looking for strategies to appeal to sellers and avoid bidding conflicts because competition for properties has become strong. However, this is a potentially dangerous strategy. So what is the difference between a contingent and a non-contingent offer, exactly?

Non-Contingent Offer

A non-contingent offer is for buyers who are eager about closing on a home. This implies they’re willing to forego some or all contingencies in exchange for risk and liability. These offers are advantageous to sellers because they shift more risk to the buyer. Waiving contingencies like the home inspection, on the other hand, might result in undesirable surprises like structural damage, which they won’t be able to renegotiate a credit or repairs for if they don’t have the contingency. They risk losing their money if they cancel because of a new discovery. Furthermore, because non-contingent offers don’t allow renegotiation, you must be certain that you are okay buying a possibly damaged home that may require extensive repairs.

Contingent Offer

Contingent offers, on the other hand, protect buyers from the hazards listed above during the home-buying process. Many buyers, for example, will use their entitlement to a finance contingency because being pre-approved for a mortgage does not guarantee that they will be able to come up with all of the funds they require to close on a property. If financing fails and this contingency is waived, buyers will lose their earnest money or deposit if they back out of the transaction.

When placing an offer on a home, working with an experienced real estate agent is the best route for you. They can assist you in making a contingent or non-contingent offer by guiding you and providing advice and expertise. 

While non-contingent offers can help you distinguish from other buyers, they also carry some significant pitfalls and risks. If you’re worried about distinguishing out in today’s seller’s market, your real estate agent can go over the advantages and disadvantages, as well as all the alternatives and ideas that will help you thrive and have your offer prevail.

Can a Buyer Back Out of a Non-Contingent Offer?

You risk losing your earnest money if you back out of an offer without a contingency. 

Because you put that money down on the promise that you’ll stick to the deal, if you back out for any reason that isn’t in the contract, the seller has the legal right to keep your money.

Owing to the fact that buyers typically make snap decisions, there are many scenarios where the buyer may try to back out of the deal by claiming that they were unaware of a defect with the property until after they signed the contract.

An example of what typically happens in a similar case is that a buyer claims that they noticed something after waiving contingencies that they were not aware of prior to entering into the contract/releasing contingencies. This could be based on the buyer’s personal findings, information from a neighbor or agent, or other factors. As a result, the question becomes: can the buyer back out?

This is frequently the case in the law, so it would depend on the scenario(s)

Scenarios When a Buyer Wants to Back Out 

  • In one case, the buyer faces a new issue. The seller suddenly realizes he neglected to notify on an issue and provides a written supplement disclosure. The new disclosure reopens the buyer’s property condition contingency for 5 days (the form specifies 5 days). So, the buyer can either cancel the contract based on the new disclosure, accept the property as-is, or try to negotiate a price reduction or repair.
  • A buyer may also bring up a new concern that the seller is unaware of. The buyer will try to prove that the seller was aware of the situation but refuse to admit it. But the seller will maintain his innocence hence, there will be nothing to reveal and escrow has to close. This is the situation where we see the most strife. A common option is for the buyer and seller to agree to cancel the contract, with the funds held in escrow until they decide (either mutually or by arbitrator or judge) who gets what share of the deposit. Both parties should seek legal advice if they refuse to cancel or insist they are correct.
  • Similar situations occur when sellers assume the buyer is simply bringing up new problems to back out. A dispute often arises about whether the buyer has the right to cancel and who gets the deposit if the buyer cancels.
  • Finally, the buyer brings up the new issue, and the parties work out an amicable solution. They can achieve this by consenting to more inspections; then, deciding how to proceed), negotiating a price adjustment or repair, or simply agreeing to cancel and divide the deposit. This is the ideal outcome, yet it is not the most common.


Finally, if you’re new to real estate, this straightforward approach will provide you with a knowledge of non-contingent offers. Making decisions on your own is one of the things you should avoid. Before making any offers, speak with an agent or an expert to avoid any potential conflicts. 


What is the difference between contingent and non-contingent?

An offer on a house that includes one or more contingencies is called a contingent offer. A non-contingent offer on a house means that the buyer did not include any contingencies in their offer

How long are most contingent offers?

Depending on the circumstances, the contingent period can last anywhere from 30 to 60 days. The buyer’s due date is usually about a week before closing if you have a mortgage contingency.

Can a Buyer Back Out of a Non-Contingent Offer?

It depends on the scenarios. However, you risk losing your earnest money if you pull out of an offer without a contingency.

Can you make an offer on a house without having sold yours?

The simple answer is yes, you can make an offer on a house before selling your own. Estate agents are obliged to pass on all offers to the house sellers they represent.

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