What is a clean offer, when buying a home?

Managing Real Estate Broker with Keller Williams Bellevue 47538

What is a Clean Offer when Buying a Home?  A clean offer is one with few if any contingencies that could snag or cause a sale to fail. 


When writing an offer to buy a home, I try to write as clean an offer as possible in order to make the terms acceptable to the seller.  There are no limits to the contingencies a buyer can add to their offer.  Some are fairly standard and easily accepted most of the time, but with each additional contingency a seller has a reason to say no. 


Some common ones are Pending Sale, Neighborhood Review, Home Owners Association Review, Septic Inspection, Well Contingency, Title Review, General Inspection, Financing Contingency, Appraisal Contingency, Feasibility Contingency, Lead Based Paint just to name a few.


With each “escape hatch“ built into a contract a seller worries that the buyer really isn’t committed to completing the purchase.  With less commitment from the buyer, the seller may hold out on price to make the risk palatable.


Now don’t get me wrong, each of these has a specific purpose and may be reasonable or even necessary to include in a given circumstance, but some may overlap and be redundant.  Why add a neighborhood review which generally has a 3 day limit when you have a 7 day inspection period?  Inspect the neighborhood on your own during the inspection period and use the inspection contingency if you find unacceptable Soldinformation, like a meth house in the neighborhood.


Each contingency in a contract has a deadline attached to it.  Exercising due diligence early on and using a contract with the least number of contingencies necessary will present a clean offer to a seller.  They are more likely to accept this type of offer and may give you some price consideration as well.   


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Dan Tabit       206-310-8629    425-868-SOLD(7653)  DanTabit@Northstone.net

One stop Real Estate & Mortgage Services Serving Sammamish, Issaquah, Redmond, Bellevue, Mercer Island and the greater Seattle area.  

Comments (28)

Brien Berard
Remax Professionals Laurel MD - Laurel, MD
Maryland Real Estate Agents - Laurel Real Estate

To me other parts of a clean offer are that it is wrtten well.....uderstandable, all spaces filled in.  I don't really put summaries in, because I want them to read the offer.

Mar 30, 2013 10:54 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Dan, I agree with your definition of a clean offer. The fewer contingencies an offer has, the seller is more likely to accept the offer. Good points!

Mar 30, 2013 11:19 PM
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

Never heard of a neighborhood contingency. Why would you need that? Can't you inspect the neighborhood while looking or  while th eoffer is being presented? (Like you say the inspection contingency is the easiest one to get out with.)

Mar 30, 2013 11:33 PM
Keith Lawrence
Christie's International - Mahwah, NJ

You are correct the less contigencies in the contract the more likely the deal will go through.

Mar 30, 2013 11:38 PM
Marc McMaster
RE/MAX Centre Realty - State College, PA
Putting my clients before myself

The less contingencies the better.  The easiest way to make it so a buyer can get the home they want.  If a buyer is sure they can get a mortgage, waive the contingency.  It doesn't mean that you can't get a mortgaage. 

Mar 31, 2013 12:26 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Clean offer = appropriate price for home, no financing contingencies, no seller paid costs, no requests for personal property, closing in 30-5 days. In the end, we all know when we get an offer that will simply complicate our sellers' lives.

Mar 31, 2013 12:35 AM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I have often used that expression...clean offer. To me, it covers the bases and can go to home run in 30 days...

Mar 31, 2013 12:38 AM
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty Beatrice Associates - Middleton, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Dan- Some of those contingencies are important to the buyer.  But others can get crazy, like buyers writing personal items in to the offer or asking for closing costs they dont need. 

I tell buyers every contingency cost them money.

Mar 31, 2013 01:08 AM
Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

Happy Easter, what a pleasant surprise.  I appreciate all the comments. A clean offer can have contingencies, but the fewer the better in my opinion. I often tell my buyers that an Inspection Contingency is non-negotiable for me. I want a professionally trained and equipped person to turn the house upside down and inside out.  Even if a buyer felt it was necessary to waive this, to do it anyway for full understanding of what they are buying. 

A neighborhood review in WA contracts is just a period, 3 days by default, to learn about the neighbors. I'll do a post about this since it sounds like a good subject.

A clean offer is also one that is clearly written. I write my offers online, so they are type faced and clear.  I receive some handwritten offers too.  If your handwriting is better than mine go for it.  When I receive multiple offers and can't make out the terms on one due to poor handwriting, it usually doesn't get signed. 

Mar 31, 2013 02:20 AM
Nakia Brooks
BKG - Brokerage Atlanta - Braselton, GA
Dan, As a listing agent with about 40 listings - I can't agree more. If agents would read what they are submitting, it would help their case so much! I do short sales - these mortgage lenders reviewing these contracts we send in loss their minds with all the stipulations. Like you stated in your post, a lot of these contingencies are redundant and aren't even needed. Great post! Happy Easter!!!
Mar 31, 2013 05:58 AM
Kristen Correa, Broker
Kristen Correa Real Estate & Reedy Creek Realty Services - Keller, TX
I love coffee & real estate. I am out of coffee!

DAN - True stuff in this one. Music to my ears when the buyer's agent calls and says I HAVE A CLEAN OFFER FOR YOU or when the listing agent calls me and says THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR A CLEAN DEAL! Hope things are great in Seattle area.

Mar 31, 2013 08:22 AM
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

Sellers like simple. With the shrinking inventory, an offer with fewer contingencies than others, has a better shot at being accepted.

Mar 31, 2013 08:57 AM
Randy Bocook
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Richmond Hill, GA
Selling Coastal Georgia
The most common contingency my buyers put in a contract is the financing contingency. Most other things can be put into the special stipulations and worked out that way.
Mar 31, 2013 10:42 AM
Sherry Chastain
Hendersonville, Nashville, Old Hickory, Lebanon Tennessee - Hendersonville, TN
Realtor, Selling Homes, Lake Properties,Luxury Homes,Short Sales

It would be easier to write a clean offer if we didn't have to consult buyers. Buyers have been spoiled with the past market. They will soon have to learn clean offers will be the only way to get a home.

Mar 31, 2013 12:45 PM
John Dotson
Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC - Highlands, NC
The experience to get you to the other side!
You got it on clean. Price doesn't even have to be so great, just don't throw in contingencies (excuses) to blow out of a deal. Great post!
Mar 31, 2013 02:22 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Dan - Clean offers have been even more important here lately with our sellers' market.

Mar 31, 2013 03:21 PM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach
I agree that cleaner is more competitive. It's nice to have an offer with no financing contingencies, but not all buyers have the cash to remove that one up front. I am licensed and work in three states. It is a statutory law that buyers cannot waive the HOA/condo doc review. Listing agents might request it, but it is not allowed to be waived. I do my best to present the cleanest offers that my clients feel comfortable presenting.
Apr 02, 2013 04:16 AM
Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

After some of you wondered what a Neighborhood Review or Neighborhood Contingency was, I decided to write a new post about this. I've created links in the body of the blog or here in the comment. Thanks for all the comments.

Apr 02, 2013 08:14 AM
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

An offer with no contigencies except an appraisal, loan approval done, inspection done before the offer is submitted.

Apr 21, 2013 06:06 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, EXP - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Turning in a clean offer can make such a difference when you want to excel over the competition.

May 24, 2017 09:20 PM