What Is A Contingent Offer

Jan 21, 2024 By Susan Kelly

Have you ever applied for a job and been offered a contingent offer? If so, these offers don’t always come with all the details. So what is a contingent offer, and how can it affect your job search?

We will discuss what constitutes a contingent offer in detail and how it can influence your future employment decisions. From understanding legal implications to knowing when to accept or reject a contingent offer, this guide will provide invaluable insight into handling them responsibly.

Contingent Offer

A contingent offer is an employment offer dependent upon certain conditions being met. These conditions can be anything from passing a background check or physical exam to obtaining a specific certification or other criteria deemed necessary by the employer.

Depending on the industry and type of job, there may be additional requirements for candidates who accept a contingent offer. For example, if you were applying for a nursing job, you would likely need to pass a criminal background check and drug screen before your contingent offer could become official.

It should also be noted that employers sometimes put contingencies during the negotiation process to secure more favorable terms (e.g., deciding when salary increases occur). In such cases, knowing your rights and being prepared to negotiate is important.

Types of contingencies

There are two main contingencies regarding contingent offers: legal and performance-based. Legal contingencies are typically associated with criminal background checks and drug screens, while performance-based contingencies relate more to the skills and experience needed for a specific job.

Legal Contingency

This type of contingency is usually related to verifying a candidate’s legal right to work in a certain country or jurisdiction and ensuring they meet any other applicable legal requirements (e.g., obtaining licenses or certifications).

Performance-Based Contingency

This contingency type requires applicants to demonstrate proficiency in certain skills before they can accept a contingent offer. For example, if you were applying for an IT job, your employer may require that you pass an IT certification exam before your contingent offer becomes official.

Common Reasons for a Contingent Offer

House Sale Contingency

When a potential homebuyer applies for a mortgage, the lender may require that they make their offer contingent on selling their current home. This means that if the buyer’s current home does not sell, they cannot accept the new offer.

Financial Contingencies

Sometimes, a job offer may be contingent on the applicant’s ability to provide proof of adequate funding for any associated costs. For example, if an employer is offering relocation assistance, they may require that the applicant show proof of enough funds to cover all related expenses before making a contingent offer.

Inspection Contingency

This type of contingency applies most often to home buyers, who may make offers contingent on the results of a satisfactory inspection by a qualified inspector. This means that if the inspection reveals any major issues with the property, the buyer can walk away from the deal without any financial penalty.

Reasons To Accept A Contingent Offer

There are several reasons why you should accept a contingent offer.

These include:

  • It allows you to start working immediately: If you need to start a job immediately, accepting a contingent offer is likely the best way.
  • You can get experience in the field: Even if the job isn’t your dream position, taking on a contingent offer gives you valuable experience that could set you up for future promotions or advancements within the company.
  • Showing commitment: Accepting a contingent offer shows potential employers you are committed and willing to work hard for them.
  • Increase your salary: If you accept a contingent offer and prove yourself at the job, there may be opportunities for raises or increased responsibility with a higher salary.
  • Advancement opportunities: As you gain experience and prove your worth to the company, accepting a contingent offer can open up more advancement opportunities for you in the future.

Assuming that all contingencies are met and agreed upon, it is important to understand that accepting a contingent offer is an agreement between you and the employer. Therefore, if conditions are not met or fulfilled, both parties can terminate the offer without legal repercussions. It is also important to note that employers may rescind contingent offers if they feel they have found a better candidate during their hiring process.

What happens when the seller accepts a contingent offer?

When the seller accepts a contingent offer, they agree to sell their property upon meeting certain conditions. These conditions can vary widely and generally depend on what is stipulated in the purchase agreement. Common contingencies include the buyer obtaining financing or obtaining inspections of the property.

If either party does not fulfill any of these contingencies, then either one has the right to back out of the agreement without repercussions. The seller should always read through documents carefully before signing an agreement to ensure they understand and agree with all terms outlined.

What are the downsides to making a contingent offer?

The downside to making a contingent offer is that it can delay the sale of the property. This is because both parties must wait for all conditions to be met before the transaction can proceed. The buyer may need to be more assured that they can purchase the property since contingencies may only sometimes be fulfilled promptly.

There is an increased risk of legal issues arising if either party fails to fulfill its obligations regarding any contingencies outlined in the agreement.

Understanding what constitutes a contingent offer and its potential pitfalls is key to making informed decisions when considering such offers.

Knowing your rights as a seller or buyer and understanding when to accept or reject contingent offers can make buying or selling property much smoother.

Knowing how contingent offers work and their associated risks is essential for anyone considering making or accepting one. Being aware of the potential legal implications, understanding when to accept or reject an offer, and knowing your rights as a buyer or seller are all important considerations when dealing with contingent offers.


What is contingent good with an example?

A contingent good is an item or service that can only be provided when certain conditions are met. For example, a real estate agent may offer a contingent refund if the buyer’s financing falls through. In this case, the seller will only receive a refund if their loan does not go through.

Is contingent the same as the contract?

No, a contingent offer is not the same as a contract. A contingent offer is an agreement between two parties that states certain conditions must be met before an item or service can be provided. On the other hand, a contract is legally binding and requires both parties to fulfill their obligations for the agreement to be valid.

Do contingent offers expire?

Yes, contingent offers typically have a time limit and will expire if the conditions are not met within that time frame. Knowing any potential expiration dates when making or accepting contingent offers is important.


In conclusion, a contingent offer is a legal agreement between an employer and a job candidate. It is binding, and both parties must fulfill certain conditions for the offer to become valid. It may be used to fill a position when other, more traditional methods aren't available or suitable. It can also benefit employers since they know the candidate will only take the job if they meet all their requirements. For job seekers, contingent offers provide opportunities to gain experience in their field while having some assurance that both parties will fulfill the agreement.

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