Contingencies to Consider Before You Buy

Did you know that you can make your purchase of a home contingent on receiving answers to questions as well as getting certain information?

If you have previously bought a house or you are a first time home buyer, you probably know that the process of purchasing a home is not like buying anything else. Because of the finality of buying a home, there are several conditions listed in the standard home purchase contract that must be met before the deal can be closed. These conditions, in legal terms, are called "contingencies."

How do Contingencies Work?

Both the buyer (you) and the seller of a home will most likely ask for a number of contingencies to be written into the purchase agreement. The purchase agreement, or contract, will most likely define a certain amount of time between the signing of the contract, and the closing of the deal. This time period will allow both you and the seller to satisfy all of the contingencies built into the agreement for the home.

You may have to work hard and fast in order to meet all the contingencies, such as securing an insured loan, and will often update the seller as to your status in completing everything that you must. If any of the contingencies are not met, the contact may be cancelled or renegotiated.

Various Types of Contingencies

When you purchase a house, you will likely run into several types and varieties of contingencies. Standard contingencies include things like a buyer's inspection of the house and satisfaction with the condition that the house is in. Contingencies such as these are often considered a matter of course and their presence within a purchase agreement will likely not be contested.

Other types of contingencies are more uncommon, however, and may be disputed. For example, the seller may wish to condition the sale of the home on his success in finding another home to buy for himself. If you are in a hurry, you may want to contest this contingency or place a limit on how long you will delay the closing of sale in order for the seller to find another house.

What follows is a list of common contingencies that can be found in most home purchase agreements.

Financing/Loan Contingency

Almost all home sale contracts will be contingent upon you, the buyer, being able to secure a loan or other source of financing with which to purchase the house. This contingency may place a time period between signing and closing in which the buyer must secure this funding. If you are able to pay cash up front for the sale of the home, then you will be able to omit this contingency.

However, this is not to say that you, the buyer, have no choice in what type of financing to accept. You can demand that the contract is contingent upon you getting a loan of a rate of a certain amount or below, or the sale will not go through.

Home Inspection

A common contingency within a home sale agreement contract is one that gives the buyer the right to at least one home inspection before a certain date. This contingency should also give the buyer the opportunity to get out of the contract, or demand repairs, if the buyer is not, in good faith, satisfied with the condition of the house.

This home inspection contingency also will generally allow the buyer to send in experts of his/her choosing to make the inspection, such as general contractors and pest exterminators. In addition, if the house is in an area known to have natural disasters such as landslides, then getting an expert in that field to inspect the home may also be demanded.

If you are buying a home that is currently being built, you may want to consider asking for a contingency that would allow you to view the construction of the home at certain points during its construction to make sure that the home is being built up to a certain standard.

Inspection reports may often lead to more negotiations between the buyer and the seller about the purchase price.

Insurance

Most homeowners will want to make sure that their new purchase has home insurance before moving in. However, insurance companies have become more and more reluctant to insure properties and homes in certain parts of the country.

Title

This can be one of the most important contingencies for you as the buyer. This contingency will allow you to leave the contract if the seller of the home cannot prove that he or she has valid legal title to the property that is for sale. Generally, you want to purchase a clear or "unencumbered" title to the property.

A title report, done by an authorized title company, should be a contingency in almost all home sale contracts. When you purchase a house, be sure that you get the whole house.

Get a Free Initial Case Assessment

After considering what kinds of contingencies you want in your home sale agreement, put them in writing as part of your offer to buy the house, but take care. Purchasing a home is one of the largest and most complicated financial transactions you are likely to undertake. Contact a local attorney for a free initial case assessment to learn how they can help out by drafting and negotiating terms that work for your needs.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help guide you through the home buying process.

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