You may have been told that a listing is contingent or seen a list of contingencies. But what is a contingency, exactly? A contingency is a condition that, only if met, causes a transaction to proceed as normal. It’s a way to protect both the buyer and the seller in case something goes wrong. It both assures the seller that the transaction will go through as long as the condition is met, and may enable the buyer to renegotiate or back out if it isn’t met.
Not every contingency is something the seller can necessarily provide, though, so it’s never a guarantee of a successful transaction. There are several types of contingencies. There is one that the majority of sellers can meet without any effort, and that is a title contingency. This specifies that the seller must be able to demonstrate that they have clear title to the property. In most cases, this isn’t difficult, but things such as inheritance could complicate this. A couple types of contingencies relate more to the buyer. These are financing contingencies and sale contingencies. Transactions with financing contingencies are contingent on the buyer being able to acquire financing. Sales contingencies refer to the sale of the buyer’s current property. This is normally used when the buyer is reliant on funds from the sale of their home in order to afford the new home. The last two common contingencies rely on a third party, an inspection contingency and an appraisal contingency. As the name might imply, these make the transaction contingent on a successful inspection and an appraisal at or above the purchase price respectively.