From a seller’s point of view, contingent sale offers are risky. What if the buyers’ home doesn’t sell? Will the buyers list their home too high? Is their home in good condition and ready to go on the market? Many sellers would rather wait for their own home to sell to a noncontingent buyer than face the uncertainty of a contingent sale offer.
Buyers who can buy another home only if their current home is sold need to convince sellers that it’s worth the risk to accept their contingent sale offer. One strategy that can work in your favor is to list your home for sale before you present an offer on the home you want to buy.
This lets the sellers know you are serious about selling your home. Some buyers are tentative and won’t list their home until they have an accepted offer on the one they want to buy.
A lot of home sale transactions are put together with the help of the agents involved who communicate freely with one another. As a buyer who must first sell his current home, your listing agent can help to convince the sellers to accept your offer by arming the agent who’s representing you as a buyer with information that will help sell the deal.
Ask your listing agent to prepare recent sales information of listings in your area similar to yours that sold recently to show that your list price is in line with current market conditions in your area. The sellers will want to know how long on average it’s taking homes like yours to sell. They also may want their listing agent to talk to your listing agent to confirm the information your agent provided.
Your chance of a timely sale will depend on buyer demand for homes like yours and on how many homes like yours are currently for sale in your area. In a low-inventory market where demand is high, your home may sell quickly. If there are a lot of listings in your neighborhood, you will need to be aggressive with your list price by pricing lower than your competition.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: The sellers will want to know how long it will take for you to put your home on the multiple listing service. They are unlikely to wait a month or so for you to get your home ready for sale. As soon as you have made the decision to buy a new home and sell your current one, you should start preparing it for sale. This will make it possible for you to put your home on the market quickly.
If you find your dream home earlier than you thought you would and your home is not ready to market, enlist your agent’s aid in lining up a crew — handyman, painter, stager, etc. — to assist you with a fast prep-for-sale project. Ask friends and relatives to help with decluttering, donating what you no longer want, and packing up items to go to storage that you want to keep.
Before you make an offer, make sure you can provide the sellers with a letter from your loan agent or mortgage broker that indicates you are creditworthy and have the financial means to close the sale once your current home is sold.
Although it may seem silly, write a sincere letter to the sellers about how much you like or love their home and why you want to buy it. Sellers who have a pride of ownership and an emotional attachment to their home can be swayed in the right direction by a well-crafted letter.
THE CLOSING: Offer to pay the asking price, or more, if the market warrants it. Buyers usually pay a premium for a contingent sale offer.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide."
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