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Contingent Sale - How To Buy A Home While Also Selling

In the realm of real estate, a contingent sale is a strategic maneuver that allows homebuyers to purchase a new home while simultaneously selling their current one. This article delves into the intricacies of this process, offering insights into how both buyers and sellers can navigate it successfully.

Understanding Contingent Sale

At its core, a contingent sale involves a buyer making an offer on a new home with the condition that they must first sell their existing property. This contingency protects buyers from the risk of owning two homes simultaneously, should their current property not sell in time. There are various types of contingencies involved, including sale, finance, and inspection contingencies.

Sale Contingency

A sale contingency stipulates that the purchase of the new home is contingent upon the sale of the buyer's current property. This contingency provides buyers with a safety net, ensuring they won't be bound to the new home if they fail to sell their existing one.

Finance Contingency

A finance contingency safeguards buyers by allowing them to back out of the purchase if they're unable to secure financing for the new home. This protects buyers from financial strain and ensures they won't be stuck with a property they can't afford.

Inspection Contingency

An inspection contingency grants buyers the right to conduct inspections on the new home and negotiate repairs or credits based on the findings. This contingency is crucial for ensuring the new home meets the buyer's standards and is free of any major defects.

Pros and Cons of Contingent Sale

Contingent sales offer several advantages, including less financial strain on buyers and ample time to find a suitable new home. However, there are also drawbacks, such as the risk of losing out on their dream home if their current property doesn't sell in time and the potentially lengthy process involved in coordinating both transactions.


One of the primary advantages of a contingent sale is that it alleviates financial pressure on buyers, as they won't have to carry two mortgages simultaneously. Additionally, contingent sales provide buyers with the flexibility to take their time in finding a new home without the fear of losing their current one.


Despite its benefits, a contingent sale comes with its fair share of challenges. One major disadvantage is the risk of losing out on a desired property if the buyer's current home doesn't sell in time. Furthermore, coordinating the sale of one home with the purchase of another can be a complex and time-consuming process. In general, contingent offers are generally considered as "weaker" from a seller's perspective because of the additional risk that they are taking on with the offer should the buyer not be able to sell their home.

Steps to Navigate a Contingent Sale

Navigating a contingent sale requires careful planning and strategic execution. Here are some essential steps to help buyers and sellers successfully navigate this process:

Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Before embarking on a contingent sale, buyers should obtain pre-approval for a mortgage to demonstrate their financial credibility to sellers. Prospective buyers who need to sell their current home should also have a solid understanding of what their proceeds will be from the sale after all fees and transactional costs.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

A knowledgeable real estate agent can guide buyers and sellers through the contingent sale process, providing expert advice and assistance every step of the way. With a contingent sale, there are so many moving pieces, it's critical to have a strong agent to help you navigate through the process.

Making a Competitive Offer

Buyers should make a competitive offer on their desired home to increase their chances of acceptance, especially in a competitive market. While contingent offers carry more risk for a seller, a good real estate agent can help you to discuss other terms that can be used to help strengthen the offer to make it more competitive, especially when competing against non-contingent buyers.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Managing expectations is crucial in a contingent sale, as the process can be unpredictable and may involve delays. This is another important reason to have a good agent on your side to ensure that everything goes smoothly and any issues that come up or adjustments that are needed are communicated clearly and effectively to all parties.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Contingent sales can present various challenges, but with the right approach, they can be overcome. Some common challenges include delays in closing, home inspection issues, and financing falling through.

Delays in Closing

Delays in closing can occur for various reasons, but effective communication and proactive problem-solving can help expedite the process.

Home Inspection Issues

Home inspection issues can derail a contingent sale, but sellers can mitigate this risk by addressing any issues upfront or offering concessions to buyers.

Financing Falls Through

If a buyer's financing falls through, sellers should be prepared to consider backup offers or relist their property to attract new buyers.

Alternatives to Contingent Sales

While contingent sales offer a viable option for buying and selling simultaneously, there are alternative strategies buyers and sellers can consider, such as bridge loans, renting in between, or buying first and then selling.

Bridge Loans

Bridge loans provide buyers with short-term financing to cover the gap between buying a new home and selling their current one.

Renting in Between

Renting in between buying and selling can provide buyers with temporary housing while they navigate the real estate market.

Buying First, Then Selling

Some buyers may choose to buy a new home before selling their current one to avoid the complexities of a contingent sale.


In conclusion, contingent sales offer a practical solution for buyers looking to purchase a new home while selling their current one. By understanding the intricacies of the process and following the tips outlined in this article, buyers and sellers can navigate a contingent sale successfully and achieve their real estate goals.

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