Backup offers are an excellent way to make sure you’ll be able to sell your home even if the first offer doesn’t go through. But you need to know how this process works if you want to be successful in accepting a backup offer on your home.
A backup offer is a chance for sellers to consider the offer from a second buyer and an opportunity for buyers who weren’t as quick or competitive as the first offer to have a chance at buying a house.
When a home seller accepts a backup offer, they’re saying that this person will be considered to buy their home next if the person who made the first offer is unable to buy the home for any reason.
It’s worth noting that sellers can ask for earnest money deposits if they choose to accept a backup offer to help prove that buyers are seriously interested in the property.
Accepting a backup offer means that the seller already has one offer that they are considering or have already accepted for the home but that you’re willing to guarantee that you’ll accept the offer from a second buyer if the first offer falls through.
Essentially, this is an offer acceptance just in case.
Accepting a backup offer is also a good way to get leverage in negotiations with the person making the original offer. If they ask for too many repairs or changes after an inspection, for instance, the seller can choose to walk away knowing that they have a second offer in place.
Most buyers don’t make backup offers and making one can improve the odds that you’ll be able to buy a home.
The process is relatively simple if you’re working with an experienced realtor. First, you’ll submit an offer on a home. If your offer is rejected, either because the seller was already considering another offer or because your offer was outbid, you can ask to submit a backup offer.
Your realtor will then approach the seller with the offer, which can be accepted or rejected.
Sellers are more likely to accept a good backup offer than to reject it, partially because it gives them more leverage in negotiations and partly because it helps guarantee they’ll sell the home quickly even if the first offer falls through.
Making a backup offer is relatively simple, but there are a few things you should consider before you decide to move forward with a backup offer.
The main consideration is that the seller may ask for earnest money to guarantee that they will accept your offer if their current offer falls through. Paying out earnest money may hurt your position if you decide to make offers on a different home in the meantime.
Of course, if you continue shopping for a home after making a backup offer on a different house, you may have difficulties. A backup offer is a binding contract, which you’ll have to formally withdraw before you can make an offer on a different home.
If you do decide to move forward and break the contract on a backup offer, you may have to give up part of your earnest money in payment. Thankfully most sellers are willing to return the majority of the earnest money to buyers.
The other thing to consider is that making a backup offer can sometimes rush the first offer and make it more likely that they’ll close on the house quickly and without asking for as much from the seller.
That’s important because it means making a backup offer can reduce the odds that the first offer will fall through and that the house will go back on the market.
There’s often some confusion when it comes to backup offers and the different phases of a home sale.
A home sale that’s pending usually means that the seller is already working with a potential buyer but may accept backup offers if they are made. This sale status indicates that nothing seems to be wrong with the current offer but that the seller is covering their bases by accepting backup offers.
However, if a sale is listed as accepting backup offers, that usually means that there have been hiccups in the process and that the seller is actively looking for alternatives since the previous offer looks likely to fall through.
In both cases, potential buyers can submit backup offers, but you may have a better chance of getting a home that’s actively looking for backup offers than a home that’s simply pending sale.
It makes a lot of sense for sellers to accept backup offers in case something happens with the pending deal they have in place. On the other hand, making a backup offer can also make sense for home buyers who want to try and purchase a home that is already under contract. After all, a decent percentage of deals don't end up closing, and if you've made a backup offer, you'll be first in line to purchase it if the original deal falls through.