Bidding on Homes: Firm or Conditional Offers?

Whether to buy outright or make stipulations in your offer

Firm Offers

The words a seller loves to hear and a Realtor® loves to report:  Sold Firm!  When you buy a house ‘firm’, it’s worth more than a firm handshake to the seller:  it means that you are prepared to purchase the home outright, without any conditions.  If the offer is accepted by the sellers, the home is essentially yours, barring any issues with lawyers searching title before closing.  The 5% deposit you submitted with your offer is held in trust by the seller’s real estate office towards your down payment on the final purchase price.  When closing day rolls around, the property will be yours!

Photo by duckiemonster
Photo by duckiemonster

Going in firm…

  • puts you in a stronger negotiating position, especially if there are competing offers.
  • is entirely suitable when you’ve had the property inspected to your satisfaction.
  • you should have your financing in place and be completely prepared to buy the home.

Conditional Offers

This means that you have placed one or more conditions on the purchase; though you are still submitting a down payment along with your offer, you have made certain stipulations that, unless they are satisfied by an agreed-upon date, mean that your deposit can be returned to you without prejudice.

For instance, a sale might be conditional upon your obtaining a satisfactory home inspection within five business days of the offer date. If the inspector comes back with an unsatisfactory report, you can back out of the deal with a Mutual Release.  The home is not legally sold until all the conditions in the offer, which usually appear on a Schedule (addendum) to the offer, have been met and waived or fulfilled.

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