In many parts of the United States, it is not uncommon to write a purchase offer on a property which is contingent upon, or subject to, selling the buyer’s current home. Contingent offers are not very common in Silicon Valley, generally. They are unlikely to be successful if the property has been on the market only a week or two, but if the offer is otherwise really strong, home sellers may consider it. We see a few of them happen here and there, so it’s not impossible to be successful with this kind of real estate contract, but it does pose a few extra challenges. Let’s see what might improve the odds of success with one of these.
What could make a contingent offer strong?
One thing, of course, is cash. Right now in Silicon Valley, anywhere from 30-35% of all sales are without a mortgage or loan, they are all cash deals. So if the sale will mean that once the buyer’s house or condo sells and closes, the purchase can happen without a loan, that’s good – no loan means less risk that it won’t close. Even if the resulting sale isn’t 100% cash, if the sale will bring more than 20% loan to value into the next transaction, it will help.
Terms can really impact whether or not a contingent offer will go through. Some offer terms can be appealing to San Jose area home sellers too, such as a flexible close of escrow date or the option to rent back (at cost or for free).
Many other issues must be factored in, of course. How strong is the market for the property that needs to be sold? This plays into the issue of risk. If it’s an area in high demand, and the home is priced aggressively, or if it is already sale pending, this may lessen the concern that it won’t sell at all. It’s important to share market conditions with the listing agents and sellers so that they have a good understanding of the situation.
Finally, it should be noted that Silicon Valley is composed of many, many niche or micro markets. While some areas are “on fire” – Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino – others are simply good (Silver Creek, Los Gatos, Almaden) and certain areas and price points (think luxury market) are close to balanced. Depending on where and what you hope to buy, a contingent offer may be more or less likely to be successful.