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Are contingencies and deposits essential when buying a house?

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2023 | Real Estate Law |

Many homebuyers may find themselves in unfamiliar territory when faced with the intricacies of a purchase agreement. Because of this, they may sometimes overlook important clauses in the document.

Contingencies and earnest money deposits are among these critical clauses. They each play a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth home purchase. If you plan to purchase a new home and you fail to understand its significance, you may face possible contract disputes or the loss of your hard-earned money.

Understanding contingencies

Contingencies are like safety nets in your homebuying venture. They are conditions built into the purchase agreement that all parties must meet for the deal to proceed. Two common contingencies are:

  • Financing contingency: This ensures you can secure a mortgage loan to purchase the home. If you cannot secure financing within the specified period, the deal may be canceled, and you will get your earnest money deposit back.
  • Home inspection contingency: This gives you the option to have a professional inspect the property. If significant issues arise during the inspection, you can negotiate with the seller to address them. If you cannot reach an agreement with them, you can exit the deal without penalties.

You may think of these contingencies as precautionary measures that allow you, the buyer, to gracefully exit the deal if the seller fails to meet certain conditions.

The significance of earnest money deposits

An earnest money deposit is a sign of your commitment to the purchase. It is a sum of money you put down when you make an offer on the house. This deposit shows to the seller that you are serious about buying their property.

If all goes well and the deal proceeds, the earnest money deposit is often applied toward your down payment or closing costs. However, the seller may return your earnest money deposit if you encounter valid issues, such as those covered by contingencies. This acts as a safeguard against losing your money if the deal falls through due to circumstances beyond your control.

Contingencies and earnest money deposits are essential components of a home purchase agreement. They provide a means to protect your interests and ensure a smoother, less risky transaction. Understanding and discussing these terms with your real estate agent and attorney is crucial to making informed decisions during your homebuying process.

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