Why Contingent Offers Aren't Market Value

Real Estate Broker/Owner with J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY License # 49FA1074963

Is a contingent offer at market value? 

Stones in Pound Ridge NY

I have the same conversation over and over as I meet people in the same situation. Case in point: Today I interviewed a very nice couple in a small town just north of Westchester County who expired with their broker last month. I won't bore you with the details, but it was brought up that they *may* have a buyer for their home. However, the would-be buyers have to sell their own home first. This is not an unfamiliar scenario. 

In many cases, people who have a contingent (as in, they have to sell their own house first) buyer have even gone so far as to discuss-and agree to- a purchase price. When they interview an agent to list their home in case their contingent prospect can't perform, they sometimes can't reconcile the recommended list price from the agent with the (higher) price of their contingent prospect with the house to sell. They don't understand that their prospect with the contingency is not really offering them market value

Market value is what the ready, willing and able buying public will pay you for your home. Someone with a house to sell isn't able. As such, there are two hazards a seller faces when hanging their hat on that contingent offer. 

The Math Hazard. Buyers who still have a house to sell often have an inflated opinion of their own value. Sure, they'll give you every dime of the asking price after they cash out $100,000 from the sale of their home. However, life happens. What if they can only get $50,000 out of their home? They'll have to lower their offer on the house. They can't afford more with reduced proceeds.

The Moral Hazard. 7 months later, after 2 deals die and 3 price reductions, the formerly cheerful and enthusiastic buyers with the house to sell stagger back to the negotiation table embittered and jaded. They have been through hell and had a huge chunk ripped out of their hide. And by gum, they are going to do the very same thing when they get their purchase done. Buyer's market, huh? Well, now they are buyers and they are out for blood. How much do you want? Fat chance fella. You'll take less from me. 

The folks I spoke with today didn't need much convincing- they were far to mature and understood human nature. But some sellers, subjective as they are, need to know this. Contingent offers are seldom indicative of the true market conditions because the other would be principal has not gone through their own process.  


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Joe Jackson 12/02/2011 12:05 AM
  2. Cheryl Ritchie 12/03/2011 10:23 AM
Home Selling
Independent Brokerages
Running a Brokerage
I Love NY
Bartender, Make it a Double
market value
contingent offers

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R.E. Renée Hoover, Salesperson
Century 21 Geba Realty, Milford, PA; Licensed in PA & NYS - Milford, PA
Poconos, Pike, Wayne, Monroe Counties, PA; PA/NYS

Thanks Phil for the very valid points and insight. Posts 16 and 23 above are good too!

Dec 01, 2011 01:45 PM #32
Luis Iniguez
Option One Real Estate - Fontana, CA
Search Inland Empire Homes For Sale - Short Sale Agent

Great post JP.  You hit the spot with this one.

Dec 01, 2011 02:49 PM #33
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

J. Phillip,

The house will still need to pass the appraisal test. The appraiser does not care that the inflated price was one tendered on a contingent purchase. The appraisal will still reflect market value. Sellers who are thrilled with the price offered on the house by contingent buyers need to take a good look at the comps and make an educated guess, with the help of their agent, about whether the price will pass the appraisal test.

Dec 01, 2011 02:49 PM #34
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

J. Philip - This is a very valid point and the reason many sellers won't accept contingent offers.

Dec 01, 2011 03:10 PM #35
Kerry Lucasse
eXp Realty - Nest Atlanta Team - Atlanta, GA
Your Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant
I just had a similar discussion with my sellers today! Not only would they pay more for their new home, they will probably sell their current one for less.
Dec 01, 2011 04:16 PM #36
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

I know if I was selling right now I would not even consider a offer contingent on and for all of the reasons you specified! I especially concur about the buyers being out for blood after having a rough him on their own sale! I have seen that one time and again! 

Dec 01, 2011 04:41 PM #37
Joni Bailey
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

Philip: This was just BEAUTIFULLY said! You couldnt have made it any clearer. All I can say is AMEN!

Dec 01, 2011 05:03 PM #38
Jordon Wheeler
The Jordon Wheeler Group - Fairburn, GA
J W Group Real Estate Sales and Service

J Phil, excellent post and great advice for sellers.  I don't bother with the contingent offers and you stated the reasons why.  Thanks and much success to you sir!

Dec 01, 2011 09:28 PM #39
Michael S. Bolton
Michael S. Bolton,Inc. - Zimmerman, MN
MN Appraiser

Phil, Well said, and great explanation of Market Value. Most people never get the "able" part. There are times though when someone buying on a contingency is able to own two houses, but would rather wait until one sells, however, that's rare. Great post!


Dec 01, 2011 10:03 PM #40
Charlie Dresen
Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

Excellent post which contained many good points. While some sellers "get it" (like your latest clients did), others just don't want to hear that the true market value of their home is lower (sometimes way lower) than some price they've "negotiated" with a potential buyer after x, y & z falls into place in their lives.

Dec 01, 2011 11:16 PM #41
Dylan Taft
Dylan Taft Broker/Owner Taft Street Realty, Inc. - Woodstock, NY
Ulster County Area Consultant

Couldn't agree more.  Buyers who have recently sold are definitely out for blood!  They had a buyer beat them up so now it is time to stick to some other undeserving seller! 

Dec 02, 2011 12:10 AM #42
Jesse Skolkin
Independent New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser - Fresh Meadows, NY

J. Philip:

Many people confuse the meanings of price and value.

Price represents a transaction.

Value is an opinion.

Dec 02, 2011 12:27 AM #43
Mike Woods

Good advice on how to handle a common seller objection in today's market. Thanks for sharing

Dec 02, 2011 01:45 AM #44
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Phil, contingent on the sale of the buyers home depends on the market. We usually make sure there is a kick-out clause in the offer.

Dec 02, 2011 02:01 AM #45
Kimberley Kelly, SFR, HAFA, GREEN
HK Lane, Christie's International Affiliate, 760-285-3578 - La Quinta, CA
I do Real Estate like I played polo-to WIN!

COP offers must have reality behind them.  I don't take many of them.  They must have an executed contract in on their property, comps to support salels price and always a 72 hour opt out clause for my Sellers.  Thanks.

Dec 02, 2011 02:36 AM #46
Erika Madsen
Fathom Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Fathom Realty - Southeast Valley District Director

So seriously TRUE... have a great weekend!

Dec 02, 2011 03:20 AM #47
Anthony Daniels
Coldwell Banker - San Francisco, CA
SF Bay Area REO Specialist

Buyers set the market in my book.

Good post for future reference.

Thanks for sharing it.

Dec 02, 2011 05:34 AM #48
Victor Zuniga
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties - San Diego, CA

Having to enter a transaction where the buyer has to sell their home in order to make the purchase go through is always more challenging and the risk of things falling apart is so much higher. Then again it sounds like in this situation the buyer had to sell their home to a buyer who also had to sell their home. Yikes!

Dec 02, 2011 07:14 AM #49
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

What an outstanding way to explain this! A contingent offer is not market value because this Purchaser has not been run through the mill...i.e. process yet. They are not ready, willing and able. Until they are, the price they are willing to pay is not the real end of the line deal.


Dec 03, 2011 10:24 AM #50
Valerie Duncan Stewart
(Metro First Realty) - Oklahoma City, OK
Real Estate Agent-Broker, OKC, OK

The DREADED CONTIGENCY....SO NOT a fan of these offers. Hard to explain to a seller the likelihood of the offer falling apart and wasted time. It's a tough market and some sellers feel they need to jump on the offer since so few are coming their way or they become impatient.

Another aspect to the DREADED CONTINGENCY is a buyers' aversion to looking at "contingent" properties.  If a buyer feels it won't be an easily negotiated deal, they avoid it like the plague. Unless of course, the house is priced like a shack and looks like the Taj Mahal. 

Dec 04, 2011 01:34 AM #51
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