Mercury News Market Wise Q&A: Is a Back-Up Offer ever a Good Idea?


Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News & Bay Area News Group

Q: We made an offer on a property just hours after one had already been accepted. The listing agent really pushed the idea of us being in a backup position should the first buyer falter. Although our agent was not thrilled with the idea, she still prepared all the proper paperwork, including a printed backup addenda.

We signed this addenda and resubmitted the offer to the listing agent for seller signatures. This agent, who initially promoted the backup offer aggressively, instead dragged his feet and never had our offer signed by his sellers. He gave one excuse after another to our rep, until finally he just stopped responding to e-mails and phone calls.

The property is still listed as a pending sale all over the Internet and includes his declaration “backup offers welcome.” This was a complete waste of our time. In retrospect, why would anyone want to enter into a backup position?

Back Up Offer?

A: You got me. The reason your agent frowned on the idea is that your backup offer would likely increase the chances of the first buyer’s sale being successful. Backup offers simply hold the first buyer’s feet to the fire. This listing agent sounds just like the type who would tout your offer a lot.

Ideally, when someone narrowly misses out on a sale, a savvy buyer’s rep will repeatedly inform the listing agent that his/her client wants to be notified should the sale begin to fall apart. This preferred technique keeps negotiating power in your corner, not the listing agent’s.


Pat Kapowich, REALTOR®

(408) 245-7700

A Trusted Name in Silicon Valley since 1960.

A Respected Name in Real Estate since 1988.

In 2014, Pat was the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors “President’s Choice” Award Winner.For demonstrating the principles of good real estate practice among brokers; for promoting and protecting home ownership and property rights for all; and for distinguished service to the members of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and the community at large.”

 Kapowich Real Estate Logo-vert

Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager


(408) 245-7700

Kapowich Real Estate

Broker License # 00979413

1250 Oakmead Parkway

Suite 210

Sunnyvale, CA 94085-4037