Q. When we entered into a contract to purchase another house, we put in a contingency clause, which said that the "purchase of this house is contingent on our ability to get financing within 45 days from the date of the contract."

We made application to a savings and loan, and about 30 days later, they gave us a commitment. However, the commitment itself is contingent on our selling our present house before settlement.

We are in a dilemma. We hope to sell our own house, but there is no guarantee that it will be sold before we have to settle on our new house . . . What is the effect of our financing contingency?

A. Contingencies are quite customary in real estate contracts. Often, a clause will be inserted in a contract making it subject to some event. If the specified event does not occur, the buyer gets back the down payment, and the contract is null and void.

I suggest the following:

Talk to your savings and loan association immediately and attempt to have the additional contingency on the sale of your house removed.

Explore a bridge loan, to tide you over in the event you are unable to sell before settlement.

See if there is enough equity in your present house to obtain a second trust on an interim basis to give you the necessary cash to purchase your new house.

Talk to the seller directly. Let him know the situation; perhaps the settlement date can be postponed in the event your house has not yet sold.

If you are dealing with a real estate agent, ask about their "equity" program. Many real estate firms will be able to assist you with the "bridge" loan while you are trying to sell your house.