While it’s tempting for buyers to waive contingencies to make an offer more compelling, it can leave them unprotected from unexpected fees, health-threatening situations, and—worst-case scenario—a bad investment. To help you navigate the world of homebuying contingencies, we reached out to real estate experts to find out which ones should never be waived.
1. Mold remediation
If the initial home inspection turns up a potential mold issue, a mold specialist needs to be brought in to analyze the issue. Serious mold issues can cause health issues, some of which can be quite serious—including lung irritation, headaches, and skin rashes—and are exacerbated in people with allergies and compromised immune systems.
2. Well water/septic system inspection
Another contingency that should never be slashed is the well water/septic system inspection.
“Surprisingly, this one often gets overlooked or waived, but I would never encourage a client to do that,” DeSimone says. “This is water that you’ll be drinking and bathing in. We’ve seen the health consequences that bad water has had in communities across the country in recent years. As with mold, this is an issue that can be very expensive to fix—a septic system can cost tens of thousands of dollars—and it has serious ramifications for your health.”
The financing contingency is one of the most misunderstood contingencies in the homebuying process, and one of the most important for buyers to negotiate carefully, says Dave Herman, president of EZ Surety Bonds in Oakwood, GA.
“This clause asserts that your offer is dependent on being able to secure financing. If you remove it, you may not get your deposit back if you cannot obtain a loan,” says Herman.
4. Home inspection
A home inspection is the foundation on which all other real estate contingencies are built. In the inspection, a neutral expert assesses the home for roofing, plumbing, structural, electrical, and other major problems. Waiving it entirely is the equivalent of agreeing to buy a ticking time bomb, says Annie Kou, a Los Angeles–based brokerage owner and attorney at AK Luxury Properties.
“By the same token, buyers should never waive [their right to] requests for repairs at the outset for the same reason,” Kou says. “Everything may look OK on visual inspection, but you won’t really know how much you’re facing in repairs once inspections are done.”