What is a clean offer, when buying a home?

What is a Clean Offer when Buying a Home?  A clean offer is one with few if any contingencies that could snag or cause a sale to fail. 


When writing an offer to buy a home, I try to write as clean an offer as possible in order to make the terms acceptable to the seller.  There are no limits to the contingencies a buyer can add to their offer.  Some are fairly standard and easily accepted most of the time, but with each additional contingency a seller has a reason to say no. 


Some common ones are Pending Sale, Neighborhood Review, Home Owners Association Review, Septic Inspection, Well Contingency, Title Review, General Inspection, Financing Contingency, Appraisal Contingency, Feasibility Contingency, Lead Based Paint just to name a few.


With each “escape hatch“ built into a contract a seller worries that the buyer really isn’t committed to completing the purchase.  With less commitment from the buyer, the seller may hold out on price to make the risk palatable.


Now don’t get me wrong, each of these has a specific purpose and may be reasonable or even necessary to include in a given circumstance, but some may overlap and be redundant.  Why add a neighborhood review which generally has a 3 day limit when you have a 7 day inspection period?  Inspect the neighborhood on your own during the inspection period and use the inspection contingency if you find unacceptable Soldinformation, like a meth house in the neighborhood.


Each contingency in a contract has a deadline attached to it.  Exercising due diligence early on and using a contract with the least number of contingencies necessary will present a clean offer to a seller.  They are more likely to accept this type of offer and may give you some price consideration as well.   



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Dan Tabit       206-310-8629    425-868-SOLD(7653)  DanTabit@Northstone.net

One stop Real Estate & Mortgage Services Serving Sammamish, Issaquah, Redmond, Bellevue, Mercer Island and the greater Seattle area.  

Comment balloon 28 commentsDan Tabit • March 30 2013 10:11PM


Dan, clean offers are definitely an important consideration for Buyers who are making an offers in the current Seller's market.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 7 years ago
Dan, So very true on contingencies, I hear some wanting a home so bad they write a offer with one or NO contingencies at all.
Posted by Pete Xavier, Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide (Investments to Luxury) over 7 years ago

Dan~In fact, if the buyer has an inspection contingency, why specify well, septic, HOA? And if the buyer has a financing contingency, the appraisal contingency may even be redundant (depending, of course, on how much they are putting down). The more wordy a buyer gets on the contingency front, the more fearful the seller gets, so keep it simple. Good advice!

Posted by Liz Lockhart, GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate (Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO) over 7 years ago

Hi Dan,

A clean offer is so important to get your clients offer accepted. If more agents would do it, more offers would get accepted quicker instead of 4-5 counters.

Happy Easter.

Posted by Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor, (909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning (Sun Lakes Realty) over 7 years ago

Each contract can have their challenges, but guided buy a knowledgeable Realtor can make the process much easier to deal with.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) over 7 years ago

Very true, and one point that I make an effort to educate my buyers on before we go looking at houses. Frequently, as a buyer, couples and families do not see the full picture of what makes a clean (or unclean) or a strong offer. I know that I have managed to get offers through that were less money, but more palatable terms. 

Posted by Quinton Beckham, Quinton Beckham - Charlottesville (Keller Williams - Charlottesville) over 7 years ago

I've never heard of a neighborhood review contingency.  What exactly does that mean?                                                            

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 7 years ago

Nicely done post. I was going to suggest but see someone beat me to it. Enjoy your Sunday.

Posted by Toni Weidman, 20+ Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL (Sailwinds Realty) over 7 years ago

To me other parts of a clean offer are that it is wrtten well.....uderstandable, all spaces filled in.  I don't really put summaries in, because I want them to read the offer.

Posted by Brien Berard, Maryland Real Estate Agents - Laurel Real Estate (Remax Professionals Laurel MD) over 7 years ago

Dan, I agree with your definition of a clean offer. The fewer contingencies an offer has, the seller is more likely to accept the offer. Good points!

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 7 years ago

Never heard of a neighborhood contingency. Why would you need that? Can't you inspect the neighborhood while looking or  while th eoffer is being presented? (Like you say the inspection contingency is the easiest one to get out with.)

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 7 years ago

You are correct the less contigencies in the contract the more likely the deal will go through.

Posted by Keith Lawrence, ABR, CDPE, SFR, 203K Specialist (Christie's International) over 7 years ago

The less contingencies the better.  The easiest way to make it so a buyer can get the home they want.  If a buyer is sure they can get a mortgage, waive the contingency.  It doesn't mean that you can't get a mortgaage. 

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) over 7 years ago

Clean offer = appropriate price for home, no financing contingencies, no seller paid costs, no requests for personal property, closing in 30-5 days. In the end, we all know when we get an offer that will simply complicate our sellers' lives.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) over 7 years ago

I have often used that expression...clean offer. To me, it covers the bases and can go to home run in 30 days...

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

Dan- Some of those contingencies are important to the buyer.  But others can get crazy, like buyers writing personal items in to the offer or asking for closing costs they dont need. 

I tell buyers every contingency cost them money.

Posted by Kevin Vitali, Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers (EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales) over 7 years ago

Happy Easter, what a pleasant surprise.  I appreciate all the comments. A clean offer can have contingencies, but the fewer the better in my opinion. I often tell my buyers that an Inspection Contingency is non-negotiable for me. I want a professionally trained and equipped person to turn the house upside down and inside out.  Even if a buyer felt it was necessary to waive this, to do it anyway for full understanding of what they are buying. 

A neighborhood review in WA contracts is just a period, 3 days by default, to learn about the neighbors. I'll do a post about this since it sounds like a good subject.

A clean offer is also one that is clearly written. I write my offers online, so they are type faced and clear.  I receive some handwritten offers too.  If your handwriting is better than mine go for it.  When I receive multiple offers and can't make out the terms on one due to poor handwriting, it usually doesn't get signed. 

Posted by Dan Tabit (Keller Williams Bellevue) over 7 years ago
Dan, As a listing agent with about 40 listings - I can't agree more. If agents would read what they are submitting, it would help their case so much! I do short sales - these mortgage lenders reviewing these contracts we send in loss their minds with all the stipulations. Like you stated in your post, a lot of these contingencies are redundant and aren't even needed. Great post! Happy Easter!!!
Posted by Nakia Brooks, Selling GA, One yard at a time! (GaRealtyGroup | 2ShortSaleGuys) over 7 years ago

DAN - True stuff in this one. Music to my ears when the buyer's agent calls and says I HAVE A CLEAN OFFER FOR YOU or when the listing agent calls me and says THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR A CLEAN DEAL! Hope things are great in Seattle area.

Posted by Kristen Correa, Broker, I love coffee & real estate. I am out of coffee! (Kristen Correa Real Estate & Reedy Creek Realty Services) over 7 years ago

Sellers like simple. With the shrinking inventory, an offer with fewer contingencies than others, has a better shot at being accepted.

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 7 years ago
The most common contingency my buyers put in a contract is the financing contingency. Most other things can be put into the special stipulations and worked out that way.
Posted by Randy Bocook, Selling Coastal Georgia (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) over 7 years ago

It would be easier to write a clean offer if we didn't have to consult buyers. Buyers have been spoiled with the past market. They will soon have to learn clean offers will be the only way to get a home.

Posted by Sherry Chastain, Realtor, Selling Homes, Lake Properties,Luxury Homes,Short Sales (Hendersonville, Nashville, Old Hickory, Lebanon Tennessee) over 7 years ago
You got it on clean. Price doesn't even have to be so great, just don't throw in contingencies (excuses) to blow out of a deal. Great post!
Posted by John Dotson, The experience to get you to the other side! (Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC) over 7 years ago

Dan - Clean offers have been even more important here lately with our sellers' market.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 7 years ago
I agree that cleaner is more competitive. It's nice to have an offer with no financing contingencies, but not all buyers have the cash to remove that one up front. I am licensed and work in three states. It is a statutory law that buyers cannot waive the HOA/condo doc review. Listing agents might request it, but it is not allowed to be waived. I do my best to present the cleanest offers that my clients feel comfortable presenting.
Posted by Dana Hollish Hill, REALTOR and Productivity Coach (Hollish Hill Group, KW Capital Properties) over 7 years ago

After some of you wondered what a Neighborhood Review or Neighborhood Contingency was, I decided to write a new post about this. I've created links in the body of the blog or here in the comment. Thanks for all the comments.

Posted by Dan Tabit (Keller Williams Bellevue) over 7 years ago

An offer with no contigencies except an appraisal, loan approval done, inspection done before the offer is submitted.

Posted by Charles Stallions Real Estate Services, Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc) about 7 years ago

Turning in a clean offer can make such a difference when you want to excel over the competition.

Posted by Bob Crane, Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671 (Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities) about 3 years ago

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