Smart homes, modern kitchens, latest paint colors, big houses, not-so-big houses, the trends never end. This year’s popular trend is not in a can, a box, or a store. It’s an idea. Before you pick out paint, new kitchen appliances, or the latest in bathroom fixtures, you’ve got to get your Offer to Purchase on the house accepted. It’s seller’s market in South Central Wisconsin where Necessity has once again proven to be the Mother of Invention. Her latest creation is the “Price Escalation Clause” and it’s a powerful idea.
Here’s how it works: House comes on the market at $300,000. Buyer A makes an offer for $300,000. Buyer B offers $310,000. Buyer C, knowing nothing about the other offers, is determined to get her offer accepted. She’s qualified to purchase up to $350,000, and this house is perfect for her. Buyer C writes her offer as a Purchase Price of $298,000, with a clause to escalate her price if the seller has any offers for more money than the $298,000 she offered, to a price of $1,000.00 higher than any bona fide offer, with a maximum purchase price of $315,000. Seller likes all of the offers but likes $315,000 best. Buyer C goes from 3rd best offer to Accepted Offer because she let the seller pick the price, provided it was only $1,000 more than any other offer and not higher than $315,000.
Pretty easy right? Maybe not. Real estate brokers and lawyers recognizing the opportunities for foul play crafted contingencies which may be more complex than necessary. Everyone has an idea and it seems every idea is incorporated into one of the dozens of versions of an escalation clause. Typical of first generation vehicles, these non-uniform contingencies are overbuilt and cumbersome to navigate.
Here’s a simplified price escalation clause to help you understand the concept. Check with an attorney before using a version of any escalation clause. This one is only for an example, not to be used in your offer.
The purchase price of this Offer shall be $1,000.00 greater, up to a maximum price of $_________(a), than the purchase price of any bona fide offer the seller has received at the time of acceptance of this Offer. Along with this accepted Offer, Seller shall send written notice to buyer stating the purchase, which shall be no more than $1,000.oo more than said bona fide offer and not more than $___________(a). Buyer and seller agree to promptly execute an amendment to state the purchase price as the amount given on said Notice from Seller to Buyer.
Broker and lawyer crafted contingencies call for the seller to provide the buyer a copy of the competing offer to prove the purchase price of the other offer. You’ll even see the term Net Price used to account for credits and concessions before calculating the escalating buyer’s offering price. Both conditions are good ideas. Whether or not they are necessary depends on the buyer. I believe the need for proof of existence of other offers is overblown, and calculating Net Price is splitting hairs. Everyday as long as there have been more than one buyer for a property, buyers have offered more money than they might have otherwise, because they knew or thought another offer was coming in to the seller. Never, ever do those buyers require proof that their offer wasn’t already better than the one that did or did not come in. I believe in requiring the sharing of competing offers, we’re are adding a solution where no problem exists.
The easiest offer for a seller to accept is one that is easy to understand, and includes a preferred price. Keep it simple and legal to have a better chance of being the next owner of the home of your dreams….oh yes, there is still the issue of appraising for the purchase price. Seller’s be careful…make sure you are protected against appraisals below that escalated purchase price. Appraisers and underwriters are not as inspired as buyers and sellers to put unsupported values on properties.
Always use an attorney to review your contracts.