Last summer, we decided it was time to move. The global pandemic created new work from home opportunities for my husband, and the desire to move to an area with more green space was suddenly too hard to resist.
Moments after making the decision, I hopped online and created watches on Zillow, Realtor.com, and a whole host of other websites. Whenever a new house popped up, I added it to a list of places we might be interested in buying and set a course to drive to see it.
Every Saturday, we piled into the car, drove to the northernmost house, then wove our way back to the places closer to home.
At first, I enjoyed our little house-hunting adventures. With sports canceled and kids’ activities temporarily halted, we didn’t have a laundry list of things to do on the weekends. At the beginning of this quest, it felt good to roll out of the neighborhood on the weekends.
Buying a House with Cash
It’s been nine months since we decided to move and we still haven’t found a place to live. Last week we put an offer on a house and received a lovely rejection letter that read as follows:
“We know the home was extremely busy all weekend, and we received over 15 offers. Ultimately, the sellers elected to accept an offer with a higher net and more favorable terms.”
The sellers selected an all-cash offer for $75,000 over the listed price! Our real estate agent called it the minute we walked in the front door.
“This house is listed for a bidding war,” she told us. We wasted three days constructing an offer anyway.
Home Buying Contingencies
In a buyer’s market, you can load your offer with all sorts of contingencies to protect your home buying purchase. But in this environment, it’s as if home buying contingencies don’t exist.
Forget making an offer that requires an inspection or selling another home. Throw financing contingencies out the window too. If you want to buy a moderately priced home right now you’ll need to accept all the risks.
In this environment, sellers are taking cash offers and aren’t considering any bids with strings attached. They want buyers walking in with a wad of cash.
Expanding our Home Buying Search
Months ago, we almost bought the wrong house. Since that time, the market is all but dried up. Homes aren’t even listed near us anymore. People are driving down streets in search of for-sale signs and making offers sight unseen.
I wanted to move before the next school year, but I doubt that’s going to happen. We’ve been searching for three-quarters of a year. What are the odds we’ll find a house in the next two to three months?
This week I expanded our house hunt. We are now searching in a larger geographic area and widened our price range. Still, next to nothing is turning up.
Buying a House in a Seller’s Market
If we don’t find a house, I’m not sure what to do. We currently own our home outright. We are living mortgage free and didn’t initially plan to sell until we bought a new place.
We could sell our primary house while the market is hot, but that feels risky. It’s impossible to time the housing market, and it feels safer to try to buy and sell at roughly the same time.
If the market is hot, we buy when prices are high and sell when prices are high. If the market cools, we buy low and sell low.
If we sell now, the market could keep on rising. Which means we would pay a lot more than we would earn on the sale of our house.
We have another house that we could stay in while we ride this whole thing out for a year or two, but I’m leaning towards sticking to our original plan and holding on to our primary house until we buy a new one.
Cash Offer on a House
Of course, if we sell our home we could make an all cash offer on a new house. (If we ever see one we like.) We know that sellers are searching for all cash offers. Can we find a house if we don’t offer cash?
It’s a tough decision to make. What would you do if you were in my shoes?
I forget to mention that we are unwilling to stay in our current home because the schools cannot support our children. There are issues of safety, bullying, and poor academics combined. If we remain here, we will either need to home school long term or re-enroll the kids in pricey private school. We would prefer to move to a new location where public school would be an option worth choosing.
16 thoughts on “Making a Cash Offer on a House Without Contingencies”
Zig while others zag. This market seems like an opportunity that the winners of the house bidding war will eventually regret. You have expanded your location zone so much who knows if you will truly be happy at that location? If your set on moving try renting for a year and rent your current house to someone else. Everything is reversible then and you buy yourself some time to see if it’s the right decision for your family. Heck you may even be able to met the neighbors and get a lead on an off market listing. Maybe consider doing a cash out refi before you rent so you can take advantage of the insanely low rates.
Thanks Ken. I appreciate your thoughts on our conundrum. Renting may be a viable option if we can find a house to rent. It’s tough to find rentals right now too. I like the idea of renting our house while we rent another. That way housing payments are a wash. Using our rental income to pay for a temporary place to stay is a good idea.
We are in the same boat and have been waiting for the market to cool for sometime. It’s only getting worse. We just put in a offer for $20,000 over asking. It’s insane. I usually follow the “zig when others zag” rule of life but unfortunately our time is running run out. The ONLY thing that makes me feel even a teeny bit better is that we also have something to sell. Good luck with your search. You’re not alone!
Thanks Ellie. I’m sorry that you are in the same boat. I’ve never seen anything like this. I bought a property at the height of the last housing boom, but plenty of properties were available at that time. I can’t believe how few houses have hit the market in the past year! Good luck finding a new place. Come back and let me know if you find one.
I’d just stay in the house you are in, we have been in our first house for 41 years and still love it. We paid all of $32,500 for it. We added on a few times and modernized a few times but we picked the location well with two acres we own and another 800 of wooded wetlands behind us we are free to explore as if they were ours. Our next door neighbors, one is next to our lot, the other is a quarter mile down the road, are like family. We have deer and beaver and mink and hawks and owls, and bobcats and foxes and otters and snakes and rabbits and armadillos and raccoons and possum wandering through our yard or crossing the street frequently, you don’t have to watch out for small children but you do have to watch out for the woodland animals. And for all the wilderness aspects it was only 8 minutes from my job and no more than ten minutes to any retail store in the small nearby city. I get wanting more green space, but in a metro area that might be next to impossible. My advice on housing is to pick a starter home you’d be happy in for your entire life. Then you might never have to move again.
Thanks Steve. I added a note above in this post. Unfortunately, the school systems are failing children here in our home town so staying in our current house isn’t really an option for us. We’d have to pay for private school or home school. While either of those could work I don’t want to rely on them for the next twelve years. After living in the same house for twenty years I wasn’t thinking of our next home as a forever starter home. I was actually thinking of it as a place to send our kids to school for a while. Eventually, I think I’d like to move near the water, but schools in those areas aren’t the best either! We made major changes to our house over the past twenty years and I agree that a starter home may be the best way to go. At least a smaller home that we can modify even if we don’t live in it forever. Thanks as always for the comment!
I like the rental idea. In this crazy market, you can try before you buy to make sure it will be the best fit for 12 years. I am personally looking to sell and downsize to travel full time in a travel trailer. Last year of high school for youngest. I am sure something will work out best for you and your family.
Thanks for your comment. The last year of high school will open so many doors and possibilities for you! I’m a little jealous.
This is a tough one. I completely understand your need to get into a better school district for your kids. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be good at homeschooling. I don’t know what I’d do- look into private schools as I continue to shop I guess. I hope you find the perfect home!
Homeschooling has been great and I’d be happy to give it a go for another year. I think the boys feel the need to see other kids again though. If they didn’t and COVID calmed down a bit, I think I’d jump in a camper or RV and hit the road!
One family I know sold their house a month ago and moved into a large RV to buy them some time while they are looking for that perfect house. They are a family of four with a dog. They have been doing lots of camping in their new “home”.
That sounds super fun! I would definitely consider it if COVID continues to get under control.
Remember, if you can teach your child to tie their shoes then you can home school. Also, in non-pandemic years the home schooled can actually be more social than the traditionally schooled children. They also become more used to interacting with mixed ages. If you decide to go with the RV route and are not scouting averse then “lone scouts” are welcomed to visit troops anywhere so you can visit kids along the road.
Hi Beth, Thank you for your comment. We know a number of homeschool families who have told us the same thing about socialization in non-pandemic times. I LOVED homeschooling our two boys this year. It was the experience of a lifetime. We all learned so much from one another and spent so much time snuggling, reading, and enjoying each other’s company. We socialized with one another, which at times, was all we needed.
We are in a similar situation. We are renting because we moved here thinking we’d move on after my partner’s work obligation was complete, but then decided to stay… and so we wound up signing another long lease because there is simply nothing reasonable to buy OR rent in our area! I feel for you on the school situation, and am glad you’ve been able to homeschool so far.
The way we rationalized it was, while we *could* buy a house at these prices, waiving all of our contingencies and bidding way over asking—essentially turning our home purchase into an auction—was not acceptable. As this phenomenon seems to be happening in major towns and cities all over the country, it seems unlikely this is actually “the new normal.” Eventually, something will need to change or correct, and buyers will be able to protect themselves during what should be a well-considered major purchase again.
I hope you find peace with whatever you decide. 🙂
Thank you for your comment Liz. The housing market is rough this year as prices continue to climb. My husband and I finally found a house worth bidding on. We overpaid by quite a lot, but it met the majority of our desires. The previous houses didn’t feel right, but it’s been weeks since we made the offer and we still feel good about it. Although we overpaid it wasn’t at the height of our budget, which also feels good.
I agree about the state of the housing market. It’s nuts and solid buyers are getting edged out and frustrated time and again. I’m not sure what will come next or how this will all play out in the end.