Accepting Backup Offers: Dos and Don'ts for Home Sellers

Accepting Backup Offers: Dos and Don’ts for Home Sellers

Reviewed by: Brandon Brown


When it comes to navigating the complex world of real estate, sellers often find themselves in situations where they receive multiple offers on their property. In such a scenario, one concept that plays a pivotal role is the acceptance of backup offers. These backup offers can have significant implications for both buyers and sellers and understanding how to handle them is crucial for a successful and stress-free transaction. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the dos and don’ts of accepting backup offers in the real estate market.

We’ll delve into what backup offers are, when they are appropriate and the implications they carry. So, whether you’re a seasoned seller or a first-time home seller looking for ways to more easily navigate the real estate market, read on to gain valuable insights into handling backup offers during the home-selling process.

What Is a Backup Offer?

To kick things off, let’s clarify what exactly a backup offer is. A backup offer is an offer made on a property that already has an accepted primary contract in place. It’s like being next in line if the original buyer’s deal falls through. This backup position is a strategic move in a competitive real estate market, providing an opportunity for a prospective buyer to secure a property they have their hearts set on. Backup offers exist because real estate transactions are not set in stone until the deal closes. Many factors can cause a primary contract to fall through, such as financing issues, home inspection problems, or even the original interested home buyer having second thoughts. Backup offers help ensure a smooth transition if the original offer doesn’t reach the finish line.

The Process of Accepting Backup Offers

Now that we’ve defined backup offers, let’s dive into the process of accepting them. It all starts when you, as the seller, accept a primary offer. This primary contract is the deal you intend to complete unless unexpected issues arise. Once the primary contract is accepted, you have the option to allow targeted advertising of your property as “under contract” but still open to backup offers. This can attract a potential alternative buyer and increase the chances of securing a backup offer.

When and Why Sellers Consider Accepting Backup Offers

Sellers consider accepting backup offers for various reasons:

  1. Protecting Your Interests: Accepting a backup offer safeguards your position as a seller. If the primary contract falls through, you won’t have to start from scratch, potentially saving you time and money.

  2. Maximizing Your Earnings: Backup offers often come with the possibility of a higher offer than the primary contract. This can translate into more profit for you as the seller.

  3. Speeding Up the Process: Having a backup offer in place can expedite the sale process if the primary buyer encounters unexpected delays or issues.

  4. Leveraging Multiple Offers: In competitive real estate markets, you might receive multiple backup offers. This positions you as the one in control, as buyers are more willing to be flexible and accommodating to secure the property.


Who said selling your house has to be hard? Definitely not us. Get your offer today!

What Does Accepting Backup Offers Mean?

Understanding the implications of backup offers is crucial for both the home buyer and seller. For sellers, accepting backup offers can have the following implications:

  • Increased potential for a higher offer, resulting in greater profits.

  • A smoother transition if the primary contract falls through.

  • A sense of security, knowing that you have a backup plan in place.

  • Enhanced negotiating power in case the primary buyer requests concessions or changes.

For any home buyer interested in a property with a backup offer, the process entails:

  • Increased competition, as multiple buyers may vie for the same property.

  • The possibility of a backup offer being accepted, displacing the primary buyer.

  • The need to be prepared to act quickly if the primary contract collapses.

While the potential benefits of accepting backup offers are clear, there are some caveats to consider. It’s important to weigh the advantages against potential downsides, such as complicating the sale process or the risk of alienating the primary buyer.

When Backup Offers Are Appropriate

Backup offers are typically considered in the following scenarios:

  • Competitive Markets: In hot real estate markets where properties receive multiple offers within days, sellers often opt to accept backup offers. This allows them to leverage the intense buyer competition and potentially secure a higher offer.

  • Contingent Contract: If the primary buyer’s contract contains contingencies that make the deal uncertain, accepting a backup offer can be a smart move. Contingencies like the sale of the buyer’s current home, financing approval, or the results of a home inspection can introduce uncertainty into the transaction.

  • Uncertain Circumstances: Sellers may also consider backup offers in situations where the primary buyer’s commitment to the deal is shaky. For example, if the buyer is relocating for work or experiencing personal difficulties, the chances of the deal falling through may be higher.


Backup Offer Process

Understanding the Backup Offer Process is vital for both sellers and buyers. Here’s a concise breakdown:

For Sellers

  • Accept Primary Offer: Start by accepting the primary offer, then add a backup offer addendum to open up the possibility for backup offers.

  • Marketing: Allow targeted advertising to attract a potential backup buyer.

  • Evaluate Backup Offers: Assess backup offers carefully, considering price, contingencies, and financial strength.

  • Notify Primary Buyer: Ethically inform the primary buyer about the backup offer.

  • Decision: Decide whether to accept the backup offer if the primary contract falls through.

For Buyers

  • Submit Offer: As a backup buyer, submit your offer and be ready to act swiftly.

  • Wait and Prepare: Be patient and prepare for quick action if your offer becomes the primary one.

Avoiding Mistakes and Achieving Success with Backup Offers

To succeed with backup offers, avoid common mistakes and focus on key factors:

Avoid Mistakes

  • Communication: Maintain clear and timely communication with all parties involved.

  • Valuation: Don’t overvalue backup offers and risk rejecting a solid primary contract.

  • Contingency Planning: Be ready to meet contingencies as a backup buyer.

  • Realistic Expectations: Understand that backup offers don’t guarantee a primary contract falling through.

Achieve Success

  • Strong Offers: Craft competitive offers with minimal contingencies as a backup buyer.

  • Negotiation Skills: Effective negotiation is a valuable skill. Both sellers and buyers should be prepared to negotiate terms if necessary.

  • Patience: Stay patient during the waiting process.

  • Legal and Ethical Practices: Ensure all communications and agreements adhere to local real estate regulations.


Who said selling your house has to be hard? Definitely not us. Get your offer today!


Empowered Decision-Making for Home Sellers in Backup Offer Scenarios

Making empowered decisions in backup offer scenarios is vital for sellers, as these decisions can have a profound impact on the sale of their property.

Evaluate Your Position

Sellers should thoroughly assess their current position. Is the primary contract strong and stable, or are there warning signs of potential issues? Consider the financial readiness and commitment of the primary buyer.

Understand the Backup Offer

Review each backup offer carefully. Pay close attention to the offered purchase price, contingencies, and the financial strength of the backup buyer. A strong backup offer can provide a safety net in case the primary contract falls through.

Communicate Effectively

Maintain open and transparent communication with both the primary and backup buyers. Inform the primary buyer about the presence of a backup offer to encourage a timely and successful closing day. At the same time, be sure to communicate clearly with the backup buyer about their status and any changes in the transaction.

Weigh the Pros and Cons

Consider the benefits and potential drawbacks of accepting a backup offer. While it can provide a safety net and the possibility of a higher offer, it can also add complexity to the transaction and put pressure on the primary buyer.

Common Questions People Also Ask

To enhance your understanding of backup offers, here are some common questions people frequently ask:

1. What Happens If a Backup Offer Is Accepted?

If a backup offer is accepted, it means that the primary contract has fallen through, and the backup buyer becomes the new primary buyer. The transaction proceeds with the backup offer’s terms and conditions.

2. Can You Accept Multiple Backup Offers?

Yes, it is possible to accept multiple backup offers. However, the process can become more complex as you’ll need to manage and prioritize these offers.

3. How Do Backup Offers Affect the Primary Offer?

The presence of backup offers can influence the primary offer by increasing competition and potentially leading to a higher offer from the primary buyer. It can also put pressure on the primary buyer to meet their obligations and close the deal efficiently.

Opting for an iBuyer

Accepting backup offers is a strategic move that can provide peace of mind and financial benefits for sellers, and an opportunity for buyers in a competitive housing market. By understanding the process, implications, and scenarios where backup offers are appropriate, you can make informed decisions when selling or buying. Real estate is a dynamic and competitive field, and knowing how to navigate backup offers is a valuable skill that can help you succeed in the housing market.

If you’re looking to avoid the stress of the real estate market altogether, FlipSplit is here to help. FlipSplit is an iBuyer that will buy your home as is, so you don’t have to navigate primary or backup offers. We buy houses in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County, offering a streamlined solution by combining the convenience of selling your home ‘As Is’ with the expertise to renovate and resell, all while ensuring you benefit from the profits. It’s an effective strategy to reduce your days on the market and maximize returns. With FlipSplit, you have a trusted partner to guide you through your real estate journey, making it a win-win for sellers and buyers alike. Request your cash offer today!

Reviewed by: Brandon Brown

As a long-time Asset Manager, Investor, Real Estate Agent, and Broker/Owner of BayBrook Realty in Orange County, Brandon Brown is one of FlipSplit’s lead Real Estate experts. Having worked on over 2,000+ real estate transactions, Brandon brings a depth of knowledge that ensures clients are appropriately treated with honesty and integrity. His insights and advice have been published in numerous blogs beyond FlipSplit, and he keeps a close eye on market trends and statistics, which are updated weekly on his social media pages. Outside work, you can find him participating and serving at church, cycling, mountain biking, surfing around Orange County and beyond, and enjoying time with his wife and two daughters.

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