In the usual sequence of a residential home sale, a buyer makes an offer which is considered by a seller. If accepted, the offer then becomes a contract. However, this seemingly brief and simple arrangement is often complicated by the use of contingencies -- clauses inserted to assure that the sale meets certain conditions. What are typical contingencies? The most common example states that the sale is subject ot the ability of the purchaser to obtain a mortgage under the terms outlined in the offer. If such financing is not available, the deal fails and the deposit will be returned. Buyers should be aware that this clause is not found in many "simple" contract forms and should be added. In many cases a purchaser will have qualms about a home that is otherwise attractive. By using contingencies, the purchaser can resolve questions while still holding an interest in the property -- if the seller is agreeable. Contingencies thus have the effect of converting contracts into options while reducing buyer anxieties. Many contingencies concern the issue of a review "satisfactory to the buyers." For example, a purchaser may state that a contract is subject to an attorney's review which is satisfactory to the buyer. If the review is not satisfactory in the opinion of the purchaser, the sale is off. Contingencies are often used in the purchase of condominiums. The condo declaration, by-laws and budget are complex, lengthy documents which reasonably require a few days to examine. Since a condo purchase represents something more than the sale of a single unit, a review of these papers is exceedingly important. In the purchase of an older home many buyers are now seeking the advice of professional housing inspectors (listed under Building Inspection Services in the yellow pages). In this case, a contract will be contingent on a satisfactory review of the inspection report by the purchaser. The buyer generally pays for this inspection report. The terms and conditions of a contingency should be clearly stated so that each party fully understands the contract. In many cases contingencies should contain deadlines so a deal can be firmed up or voided within several days. Such deadlines protect both parties. Also, it makes sense to have a broker or attorney prepare contingencies to assure proper and appropriate language is used.