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A buyer's most foolish move

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 18, 2014 06:19 AM

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Yes, don't be a foolish buyer. Don't you dare drop that mortgage contingency!

OK, some hot shot real estate agents in hyper competitive markets like Cambridge and parts of Somerville are surely calling me a rube right now.

With desirable condos and homes routinely drawing heated bidding wars, buyers are pulling out all the stops, including the nuclear option, waiving the mortgage contingency.

Yes, for all-cash buyers, and there are an amazing number of them out there these days, the mortgage contingency has gone the way of the rotary phone.

But that still leaves another 60 or 70 percent of buyers out there who will need to get a mortgage in order to buy that cool Davis Square or Cambridge condo of their dreams.

The mortgage contingency is one of the few protections buyers have out there. It means that if the big bank or even that seemingly friendly small bank finks out, you can still pull out of the deal and get your deposit back.

But if you waived the mortgage contingency, you can waive goodbye to your deposit and thousands of your hard-earned dollars.

The all-cash buyers, investors or well-off professionals or techies, can take care of themselves.

Buyers who have some cash - and the ability to tap credit and home equity lines - are the ones I am worried about here.

Combine that with an agent willing to wink and nod and all but urge a buyer to drop the contingency, and you have a recipe for big trouble.

Many agents - dare say most - would never advise a buyer to drop the mortgage contingency, whether out of duty or simply being risk averse.

But there are others, especially in hot neighborhoods and suburbs where bidding wars are endemic, that are willing to play a game of winks and nods, even if they are careful never to outright advise their buyers to drop their most important protection.

Maybe it's the sticklers versus the realists/cynics. If so, count me on the side of the sticklers.


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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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