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You're ready to buy your next home. There's just one thing standing in your way - you haven't sold your present home. What should you do next?

You may have heard others say they made a purchase offer on their next home contingent on the sale of their present home. This means that if their offer is accepted, they are not obligated to complete the purchase if their present home doesn't sell. Sounds like a good way to proceed, doesn't it?

But, wait! Why would sellers ever agree to such a tentative purchase offer? Think about it from the sellers' viewpoint. By accepting the offer, the sellers are obligated to hold the house off the market while waiting for the buyer's home to sell. The seller's problem, however, is that the buyer's home may not sell.

In other words, the sellers may reason that if it is necessary to wait for a home to sell, it might as well be their home (not the buyers'). At least the sellers have some control over the sale of their own home, while they have none over the sale of the buyers' home.

Although contingency offers are commonly accepted by sellers, a "clean" sale and purchase are usually the best approach. Sell your home first, giving you a clear picture of your financial abilities, and then purchase the perfect home without contingencies.


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