Contingent Offer

Why You Should Almost Never Accept a Contingent Offer

When real estate agents in Hawaii, Maui or Oahu talk about a “contingent offer,” they usually mean one kind of contingency: an offer contingent on the sale of a property owned by the buyer.

Understanding this definition is key. Why? Because there are standard contingencies in an offer to purchase real estate, such as the ability to inspect the property and view the title report.

This article is not talking about those kind of contingencies, which are normal and fine, it’s about offers contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home, which are abnormal and generally unacceptable.

Why You Should Almost Never Accept a Contingent Offer

You should almost never accept a contingent offer in Hawaii, Maui or Oahu because selling a home is challenging enough without the added challenge of being dependent on the sale of a second home owned by someone else, that could have another contingent offer..

Once you have accepted a contingent offer, you are generally shut down from continuing to market your property.  The MLS rules require you to change the status of your listing from “active” to something else, such as “pending” or “contingent.”

Once you make this change, you no longer show up on many home search sites. Because you are less visible on the internet, and to potential buyers.

Alternatives to a Contingent Offer

If you receive a contingent offer that generally looks great but for the contingency, ask the buyer to remove the contingency and replace it with a longer escrow so he or she has time to sell their property, or negotiate another option, there are quit a few that we can create.

If the buyer is reluctant to make such a deal, consider:
The buyer isn’t willing to take the risk that his home will sell in the given time period. Why should I take the risk?

How to Respond When You Get a Contingent Offer

Even when you decline a contingent offer, remember to do so politely. Encourage the buyer to return to you once they have sold their home. Sometimes, in some markets, the buyer’s home can be sold quickly and a deal can be had.

Exceptions to the Rule

Sometimes contingent offers are acceptable. If the buyer already has their home in escrow and past the contingency removal date with the buyer of their home, consider their contingent offer. Is it better than other offers you have? How long have you been on the market? If so, perhaps you accept it. Make clear in the contract, though, that if their sale falls out of escrow, you have the right to terminate your escrow with them.


Almost never accept a contingent offer. Don’t let someone else’s problem become your problem.

As you decline the offer, be polite and encourage the person to come back to you when their home sells.