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The Nuances of Your Contract (continued)

Loan Contingency

Loan contingency is the period of time the seller is giving you to obtain full, formal loan approval. This contingency is typically between 15 and 21 days depending on what you and your Real Estate Agent have negotiated on your behalf in the contract. The earnest money deposit that you put into an escrow account at the time the offer is accepted will be put in jeopardy once that contingency for the loan has expired. In fact, pursuant to the terms of the contract, if the loan contingency has expired and you fail to close the purchase transaction, you can lose your earnest money deposit and not have the failure of obtaining loan approval to lean on as an excuse.

For this reason it is extremely important to make sure you are not agreeing to a loan contingency in an offer negotiation unless you are absolutely certain you will be buying the home and you know you do not need to depend on financing approval to close the transaction. Formal pre?approval will help to eliminate any problems in this area.


Seeking complete pre?approval for financing prior to making an offer on a property is a sound strategy that can help you get the best deal possible, especially if you plan to make a minimal down payment. The seller is often leery of the stability and reliability of the buyer if the buyer is only capable of making a down payment of 10% or less. This can cause the buyer to lose a significant amount of negotiating ability, by being perceived as a weak buyer rather than a strong one. This is why it is very important to get full loan approval in advance and provide a written confirmation of the loan approval when an offer is made. This shows it is a done deal, and you are perceived to be a cash buyer.

Contract Period

The contract period is the period of time in which all due diligence must be completed, including obtaining loan approval, property appraisal, home inspection reports, termite inspection, etc. Give yourself enough time for all due diligence to be completed for this very important purchase you are about to make. Typically, purchase contracts are drawn up for a period of 30 days, 45 days or 60 days.

However, it is really not uncommon for a purchase contract to be written with terms in excess of 60 days if the parties involved need that long of a grace period to complete all aspects of due diligence.

Home Inspection Contingency

As part of the negotiation in your purchase contract you and the seller will mutually agree upon the amount of time needed to complete all the home inspection procedures that are required. Utilizing an outside third party service to complete these inspections is highly recommended. You will be provided with a report by the home inspection company that you should review very thoroughly to make sure there are no material defects in the property that you were not aware of, and which could subsequently have an impact on the value of the property. If there are material defects, you and your Real Estate Agent should go back to the negotiating table and discuss an ample reduction in the purchase price to offset the cost of any necessary repairs. Once your home inspection contingency has expired, you no longer have the leverage to go back and renegotiate the purchase price to resolve any issues revealed by the home inspection.

Termite Inspection

Buyers GuideTermite inspection is required by the lender in most cases on an FHA loan and if it is listed in the purchase contract. From there, it is up to both parties to determine who will be responsible for the remedy of the problem, if in fact termites are present. Most commonly, the solution is that Section 1 termite work will be covered by the seller, and Section 2 termite work to be covered by the buyer. Make sure when you negotiate your contract you state up front whether you want the property checked for termites.

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