In today’s market, sellers should consider an offer that is contingent upon the sale of the buyers’ home.
If the seller’s home has been on the market for 30+ days, the showings have probably slowed down – and a contingent offer might be the only hope of getting a sale done this year.
Above is a copy of the form we use – the Form COP. Paragraphs 1-7 are self-explanatory, and Paragraph 8 is where the fun begins.
Buyers include this form with their purchase offer, so they go first on completing #8.
If you don’t touch it, then once the offer is accepted, Paragraph 8A applies – and the seller can cancel this sale within three days if an acceptable back-up offer is received.
Paragraph 8A isn’t favorable to the buyers, so they should check Paragraph 8B and buy more time.
Once checked, the form gives the buyers a 17-day period where they can’t get cancelled, and you can also fill in the blank to dictate a longer period – OR check the last box and lock out all other offers for the duration. The sellers probably won’t go for that option though.
If buyers request a period longer than 17 days, the sellers will probably counter-offer with a shorter time period – and even the boilerplated 17 days might be too long if the listing agent is compelled to throw their weight around and show everyone who the boss is.
You can probably get a contingent offer accepted today, but it will include the threat of getting cancelled in the first 10-17 days if a non-contingent offer is received.
Buyers making a contingent offer need to have their house ready to sell!
You don’t want to waste the first few days of your exclusive period on house-cleaning and clutter patrol! Though it isn’t that likely that the seller will get another offer if they’ve already been languishing on the market, you don’t want to chance it.
Buyers making a contingent offer are smart to have their house ready to hit the open market right away – preferably, on the day of acceptance. Plan ahead!
Let’s also note that mortgage guidelines allow for parents to contribute the entire 20% down payment. Hat tip to SM for sending in this article on the Bank of Mom & Dad!
Buying a home is increasingly a multigenerational family affair. Four in 10 parents recently surveyed said they expect to help their children buy a home. That’s more than double the percentage of parents who themselves got help from their parents when they bought their first home.
Home prices that have been rising faster than wages, combined with burdensome levels of student debt, are fueling this trend. Moreover, helping with home ownership is a here-and-now assist that can transform a child’s financial life, rather than waiting to bequeath money down the line.
Whether you are the Bank of Mom and Dad or the adult child eager to buy, a successful intra-family deal requires careful consideration of the various options:
Can you afford it? OK, parents, it is hereby stipulated that you, of course, want to help. Now the hard question: Can you cope with the long-term ramifications?
A $10,000 gift you make at age 65 would be worth more than $26,000 at age 85 if it kept growing at a 5% annualized rate. A $50,000 housing stake today would be worth more than $130,000 at age 85. If you have any inkling you could use that extra cushion in retirement, you probably shouldn’t be gifting money today. You could consider making it a loan – more on this below – but also keep in mind that if you intend to pull the money out of a traditional 401(k) or IRA, you not only will owe taxes, but a large withdrawal could bump you into a higher tax bracket for the year.
Got a boomeranger at home? Help them save for a down payment. According to the Pew Research Center, about 15% of today’s millennials are living at home, nearly double the rate when their parents were in their 20s and 30s. Making it a financial free ride does nothing to help your child build adulting muscles. If they’re focused on paying off student loans, great. But if they have ample cash flow and want to eventually buy a home, now’s the time they should start to save. You should insist that they set up a separate savings account and have automatic monthly deposits zapped into it from their checking account. A $500 monthly contribution is a down payment fund of more than $6,000 in just one year. That can be more than enough to qualify for a low down payment mortgage in many regions of the U.S.
I describe the strategy for sellers here, because buyers need to be on alert 12 months out of the year. Why? Because you only care about buying the right house at the right price – which isn’t affected by the general market conditions. You are looking for the one-off.
Aisling Swindell was paying so much for rent last year—$2,100 per month to live in a studio in Downtown LA—she figured she might as well buy a place.
“The house I ended up buying was $440,000, which is insane, right?” says Swindell, who works for an online fashion company.
That price tag, which is $178,000 below the median in LA County, sounds unbelievable, especially for what she bought: 870 square feet in the city, plus a little yard, lots of natural light, some stylish updates, and charming, 1930s-era details, like wainscoting and solid wood doors.
But while she’s no longer a renter, she still doesn’t, technically, own a house.
Her $440,000 bought her a share of a larger property: a triplex on an 8,344-square-foot lot in Jefferson Park. Her right to occupy the unit, and her responsibility for maintaining it, are spelled out in a contract with her neighbors, who live in the triplex and, with her, are its joint owners.
You’d think there would be more that goes into making a good investment, but who knows any more?
Certain grocery stores may help lift nearby home values, particularly if those stores happen to be Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Aldi, suggests a new analysis from ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm.
Home sellers who live near a Trader Joe’s earned 51% more at resale than the average seller, according to the study. Homes near a Whole Foods or an Aldi sold for 41% and 34% more, respectively.
ATTOM researchers analyzed average home values and price appreciation from 2014 to 2019, as well as current average home equity, home seller profits, and home flipping rates of more than 1,800 ZIP codes nationwide with at least one of each grocery store.
They say the high-earners who buy a million-dollar house are the losers, but those folks can still deduct the roughly $30,000 per year in mortgage-interest paid on a loan amount of $750,000 (though if they were renting previously they now have to pay property taxes).
Reasons for High-Earners to Buy a House:
Deduct mortgage interest of $30,000 paid on your $750,000 loan (or higher).
Secure where you are going to live over the next 5-50 years.
Build equity with each payment.
Gamble that the value will go up.
Make the family happy.
Reasons for High-Earners Not to Buy a House:
Have landlord pay property taxes, HOA, etc.
Have landlord fix stuff.
Stay flexible on where to live.
Hope prices go down and buy later.
Numbers 1-4 on both lists probably offset each other, so the focus is on #5.
Buyers are engaged – it looks like about 6% of adults are looking for a home, which is the same as last year. Glad to see the seniors on the move too:
Many people start thinking about a home purchase well in advance of actually engaging in the process of finding a home. In a national poll in the first quarter of 2019, 13% of adults reported planning a home purchase within the next year. Of those prospective buyers, 46% are already actively involved in trying to find a home to buy. The latter finding is not different from a year earlier, when 17% of poll participants were planning a home purchase and 46% of them were actively engaged in the search process.
Senior (56%) and Millennial (50%) buyers are the most likely to have moved beyond just planning to actually start the search process, compared to 41% of Boomers. Geographically, 53% of prospective buyers in the Northeast are actively engaged, compared to 42% in the Midwest.
Thanks to reader Just Some Guy for sending in this article from last week – and who wondered why more people don’t live here and commute to the Bay Area?
Buyers like off-market listings because it lessens the competition. All agents have to do is convince sellers.
After five-plus years of aggressively putting money away in savings, Jason Baker and his wife recently accomplished the seemingly impossible and purchased a four-bedroom house in a high-performing school district in the Bay Area.
The process to find a home base for their growing family took three months. They considered both the East Bay and North Bay and quickly learned the competition is tough in communities with desirable schools such as Lafayette and Mill Valley.
The couple made offers on four houses that they didn’t get, before finally uncovering an unlisted home in Marin County and making an offer that was accepted.
“The three months when we were looking was the most stressful time of our life,” said Baker, 38, who works as an engineering manager. “It was more stressful than the wedding, more stressful than the first month at home with a newborn.”
Open houses at properties that were affordable by the Bay Area’s crazy standards were mob scenes.
“When you went to a house and there was a crowd, you just set your expectations to know you’re not going to get the house,” Baker said. “When there were a lot of people, you knew the odds were high someone is going to make a really high offer.”
Through this ordeal, Baker got an inside look at the buyer’s side of the Bay Area’s real estate market and below he shares what he learned.
1. Listing prices are just “marketing” prices. In a region where homes frequently sell for well over asking and agents often list homes with low prices to encourage bidding wars, you can’t trust that a listing price reflects a home’s value. Buyers can find the true value of a home by looking at recent comps, said Baker. “Redfin and Zillow do an OK job of estimating these,” he says. “One of the problems is there is so little turnover in good school districts that there may only be two or three comps in the last one or two years.”
2. Money wins over everything. Love letters to the sellers are nice, but moot within the Bay Area’s market of high price points. “Unless your bid is significantly higher than the second place bid (more than $50,000), expect the seller to ask you to go into a bidding war,” he shared.
3. Forget about contingencies. “We lost a bid on a house that had no inspection report in its disclosures packet, very rare for the Bay Area,” said Baker. “The seller was not willing to accept any offers with an inspection contingency, and there was water in the basement.”
4. All-cash offers win. If you want the slight edge of all-cash, and you don’t have it, Baker suggested a service called Flyhomes that makes all-cash offers on your behalf. “They buy the house, then sell it to you immediately after closing with a traditional mortgage,” he said. “Ultimately we did not end up buying with them, because they don’t have knowledge of Marin like they do San Francisco and the East Bay, but I would recommend them if you were looking there.” They act as the buyers agent, and their fee is paid by the seller.
6. The price point where the crowds thin out at open houses is about $1.5 million. Priced below that, hordes of people will go to the open house. Above that, it’s more like one or two dozen families.
7. Look for unlisted homes. Try to find a well-connected agent who has knowledge of upcoming listings, and use sites like aaltohomes.com to find unlisted properties, advised Baker. “Some sellers don’t want to deal with listing on the MLS or open houses,” he said. “The house we bought was unlisted, and there was only one family bidding against us instead of six.”
8. Get fully underwritten by your lender, not just pre-approved. “Many houses go on/off the market in a matter of days, so you’ll want a letter ready to go in your offer packet with the bank saying ‘Yes, we are prepared to loan them the money,'” Baker shared.
9. You will most likely lose your first offer, and it will crush you. “It will be sadness on the level of a pet dying,” he said. “Try to remember the family that just outbid you is no longer in the market, and you just moved up a spot.”
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