Sealing the Deal with a ‘Bump’

By Steve Matthews

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

What to do when a home-seller gets an offer but holds out hope for something better?  Enter the bump clause.

A bump clause lets sellers enter into a contract with a buyer while still continuing to market the property.  If the sellers get a better deal, they can “bump” the original buyer.

It’s most commonly used when a buyer’s offer has some contingency, usually that they need to sell their current home first.  It can help coax the sellers into contract by offering them the ability to seek alternate buyers who don’t have a home-sale contingency or who are offering higher prices.

If the sellers do get another written offer they want to take, they must notify the original buyer. The buyer then typically has a few days to tell the seller they’ve sold their house, or that they’ve decided to waive the contingency. If not, the original contract terminates. The original buyer gets back the money they put down, and the sellers enter into contract with the new buyer.

The sellers can only keep marketing the property until the buyers satisfy or waive the contingency. So once the buyers notify the seller they’ve sold their existing home, the seller’s right to market the property ends.

The bump clause can be proposed by either the buyer’s or seller’s side, but is often offered by the buyer’s agent as a way to get the seller to accept a contingency.

Here are some things to consider with bump clauses.

For sellers:

• Use it as leverage. Since the house is already under contract, a seller can use the clause as a negotiating tactic with any other buyers that show interest. The seller can try to get the other buyers to outbid the current price or negotiate a contract without contingencies.

• Don’t get greedy. If the seller receives a second offer, he may be tempted to “bump” the first buyer and sell to the second. But sellers should make sure the second offer is at least as strong as the first, which means looking deeper than price and contingencies. The new buyers may have poor credit, for example, and be less likely to obtain a mortgage.

For buyers:

• Don’t make a hasty decision. Buyers who receive notice that there is a secondary offer may have only a few days to agree to waive a home-sale contingency, or face losing the deal. Unless they’re confident that their own home will sell, buyers should be careful about waiving the contingency. They risk losing the money they put down on the contract if they can’t proceed with the purchase.

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