What is a Mortgage Contingency in a Home Purchase Offer

What is a Mortgage Contingency in a Home Purchase Offer

When diving into the real estate market, whether you're a seasoned investor or a first-time homebuyer, understanding the nuances of a home purchase offer is critical. One term that frequently pops up in property transactions is \"mortgage contingency,\" an element that can significantly influence the outcome of your offer on a home. In this article, we will unravel the intricacies of mortgage contingencies and explain why they are a vital component of a real estate contract.

Understanding Mortgage Contingency

A mortgage contingency, also known as a finance contingency, is a clause within a real estate purchase agreement that stipulates the buying of the property is contingent upon the buyer securing financing from a lender. Essentially, it's a legal safeguard for both the buyer and the seller. For the buyer, it means that if they cannot get approved for a mortgage loan within a specified period, they can back out of the sale without penalty, typically retaining their earnest money deposit. For the seller, it provides a timeline for when they can expect the deal to move forward or look for another buyer.

Time Frame of a Mortgage Contensity

The typical duration for a mortgage contingency is 30 to 60 days, but this can be negotiated between parties. During this period, the potential buyer must work diligently to obtain a mortgage that meets the terms outlined in the contract. If the buyer fails to secure financing within this window, they can either request an extension, which the seller may or may not grant, or exercise their right to cancel the contract under the contingency terms.

Conditional Details in Mortgage Contingency Clauses

The details within a mortgage contingency clause can vary and include specific conditions such as:

- The minimum amount of financing the buyer must obtain.

- The maximum interest rate the buyer is willing to accept.

- The type of loan program (such as fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, FHA, or VA loans).

- The requirement that the property appraises for at least the purchase price.

These conditions are crucial because if the buyer cannot meet them, they can withdraw from the purchase without losing their earnest money.

Why Is a Mortgage Contingency Important

A mortgage contingency is significant because it protects the buyer from contractual obligation if financing fails. Without this clause, a buyer could be legally compelled to complete the purchase and potentially lose their deposit or be sued by the seller for breach of contract if they're unable to secure a mortgage.

For sellers, while a mortgage contingency does introduce uncertainty into the transaction, it's also a reality of selling to buyers who aren't paying cash. A seller might favor offers with fewer or no contingencies, but they also have to weigh this against the possibility of excluding a large portion of potential buyers who require loans.

Removing a Mortgage Contingency

Some buyers may consider waiving the mortgage contingency to make their offer more attractive to the seller, especially in a competitive market. This is a risky move because if the deal falls through due to financing issues, the buyer could lose their earnest money. It's essential to consult with a real estate agent and possibly a lawyer before deciding to waive this clause.

Mortgage Contingency Vs. Appraisal Contingency

Don't confuse a mortgage contingency with an appraisal contingency, although they're related. An appraisal contingency ensures that the home must be appraised at or above the sale price. If the appraisal comes in lower, the buyer has the leverage to negotiate a lower price or back out. A mortgage contingency is broader; it covers the buyer if they are unable to secure a mortgage at all.


In conclusion, a mortgage contingency is a critical factor to consider when making an offer on a house. It provides protection for the buyer, allowing them to secure financing without the risk of losing their deposit should they fail to do so. Though it adds a layer of complexity to the transaction, understanding and skillfully negotiating this clause can make all the difference in successfully navigating the home buying process. As with any real estate dealings, it's always wise to consult with professionals who can provide guidance tailored to your unique situation, ensuring that your investment is secure and your path to homeownership is clear.

This article was contributed on Jun 22, 2024