Contingent: What Does It Really Mean?

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During the home buying process you’re sure to hear the term “contingent”, but what does it really mean? Contingent is the status you’ll see on a listing once a seller accepts a buyer’s offer. An accepted offer, therefore, doesn’t necessarily mean ‘sold.’ There is a process between the accepted offer and the closing where multiple factors have to be examined in order for the property to go to closing and officially be marked sold.

Contingencies refer to unforeseen possibilities in the future that can affect the value of a home and the purchase process. Contracts written during the purchasing process often attempt to include all possible contingencies that may arise. This is all a part of the process to close on a home or finalize the sale.

Home Inspection

When you’re considering purchasing a home, you’ll need to get a home inspection done. This inspection will check things like the roof, plumbing, electrical, and structural integrity of the home. A home inspection is the only way to save yourself from purchasing a home that has some major, potentially very costly, problems that you weren’t aware of.

Escrow

Escrow is an optional period of time after making an offer, before signing the closing papers. During the escrow process, you can have additional home inspections done and become more familiar with the location of the home. The escrow process provides a safety net for the buyer to ensure they know everything they need to know about the home.

Seller Repairs

During the inspection and escrow process, you may find repairs that you don’t want to be responsible for. You can request that the seller pays for these repairs, lower your purchase price, or offer closing cost credits so that you’ll be able to pay for them. Unknown contingencies that turn out to be real problems before closing typically become the responsibility of the seller.

Final Walkthrough

Once all inspections and repairs have been completed, you’ll need to do a final walkthrough of the home before closing. This will allow you to see the repairs that were made to the home and make sure you’re comfortable with them. When it comes time to sign off and pay closing costs, you’ll be asked to approve the final walkthrough.

When the day comes to close on your home you should be prepared for a long appointment time filled with signing documents and agreeing to terms. Even after the lengthy home buying process is completed, you should leave room in your budget for contingencies that can arise in the future. Before signing any closing documents, make sure you have a good understanding of your mortgage documents and agree with all the terms listed. Fear of the unknown is one of the worst parts of the home buying process, but don’t let possible contingencies stop you from loving your new home!

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