Contingent Offers: Two Headed Beasts

More  extended musings on the challenge of Contingent Offers – in a marketplace that just isn’t designed to embrace them.

For those that just tuned in.. Contingent Offers are two headed beasts.  Would-be Buyers who are also Wanna-Be Sellers.  Buyers who offer to buy your home with one big catch (or ‘fatal flaw’) included:  They gotta sell their own house first.

And because you too are a Seller in this market and you too would like to become a Buyer – you already know that it isn’t easy to sell.  Why would you take the chance that it’s going to be easier for someone else?  Except for the fact that you don’t have a hell of a lot else going on at the moment.

And that begs the question … even if a contingent offer doesn’t work out in the end, does it feel better to accept it and go through the motions with a sorta, maybe, kinda offer that could possibly work, rather than to continue sitting all addressed up with nowhere to go?

Like it.  Lump it.  Or toss that contingent offer out the window onto the scrapheap of good intentions littering this particular stretch of the road we’re on…  Contingent buyers simply can’t do the buying part without selling first.  They are the living, breathing embodiment of one immutable truth: The yin and the yang of buying and selling are not separate.  They are inextricably linked.

Buyers are Sellers. Sellers are Buyers.  One has to go around for the other to come around.  If the natural flow of the market’s Qi is interrupted, the collective body suffers.   Not to get all zen-ny on you but enlightenment must reside somewhere in this suffering.

Let’s see if I can really tweak your brains.  Sherman has been revving up the Way Back Machine while I’ve been blabbering and we’re all traveling back in time to another chapter in my own fractured history.

The year was 1993. Real estate was mired in a long downturn.  The late 80’s had crescendo’d on its own wave of irrational exuberance.  The savings and loan crisis morphed into a credit crunch.  Unemployment was high.  80-10-10,  Double Income No Kids Buyers from the peak were now divorcing parents – underwater on their $500,000 executive-level mansions and bringing money to escrow to close them.  And contingent offers were a bitch.

I had one listing on the market for two years.  We finally got an offer from someone who had to sell their house. Since nothing else was happening, my Seller took it and ventured into the breach. We opened escrow and waited for the Buyer’s house to sell. And waited. And waited some more. Finally our Buyer got an offer but that person had to sell their house too.  Then, that person got an offer from someone who also had to sell a property. And so on.

By the time the cascade of contingent offers settled – there were 22 transactions stacked up like a row of dominos – all waiting for the first one in line to fall so the others could fall into place.  I traced the missing link in the daisy chain back to a tiny condo in El Secundo listed for $40k.  It was the key to everything.

After more than a dozen calls, I enlisted a dozen agents trapped in the collective contingent Catch 22.  They chipped in and we purchased that little condo in El Segundo together.  Like clockwork, all our other deals closed.  Millions of dollars changed hands.  Countless lives transitioned forward.  And then we went back and sold the condo for $42,000.

Moral to the story? Not sure. I’d like to think it’s: All it takes is one.  Maybe that one is your house. Or the house your buyer is trying to sell.  Gotta start somewhere.


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