Posted On: July 14, 2009 by Peter Klose

What is a Mortgage Contingency in a New York State Real Estate Contract

By far, the Mortgage Contingency Clause in a New York State Real Estate Contract is the most important, misunderstood, and litigated clause in residential real estate transactions and closings. By this posting, I will try to demystify the clause, and provide a sample of the Rockland County Lawyer's Contract language which addresses the clause.

To begin with, a "contingency" generally means an event which must occur before an obligation becomes final. In New York, a mortgage contingency is a common provision designed to allow the buyer a proscribed period of time to obtain a Mortgage Commitment from a Bank. The clause can elaborately describe the types of lenders, the time frames, the interest rates permitted to finance a certain amount of money needed to purchase a home in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Columbia, and all counties of New York. Depending upon the type of loan, the contingency generally permits 30 to 60 days to complete the process of getting a loan commitment.

A mortgage-contingency provides critical protection in today's economy, tight lending world and uncertain economic times because it allows the buyer/borrower to avoid (cancel) the purchase contract without penalty if the buyer cannot obtain financing on the terms specified in the contract.

Tip: The borrower must make a "reasonable" or "good faith" effort to apply for and qualify for the Mortgage sought.

Practice: Real Estate Brokers or Agents in New York often encourage the Buyers to be "pre-qualified," because it gives the seller more confidence that the buyer will earnestly apply for and obtain a Mortgage.

The absence of a mortgage-contingency means that the Buyer has agreed to pay "all cash" for the real estate. Buyers should be very cautious about signing a purchase contract that does not contain a mortgage contingency because the Down Payment or "earnest money" deposit given at the contract signing is "at risk," should the Buyer not have all of the cash needed to close.

We have provided some sample language for New York State purchasers to read and understand.

The bottom line: If you need bank financing to purchase your new home, you need to carefully understand how a mortgage contingency works. If you or your new york real estate attorney fail to comprehend the risks associated with the transaction and your credit, you are at risk of losing your down payment should you not qualify for the Mortgage.

SAMPLE LANGUAGE:

Mortgage Commitment Contingency. . For explanation, see: NOTES ON MORTGAGE COMMITMENT CONTINGENCY CLAUSE.) [PROVIDED AT THE END OF THE STANDARD FORM CONTRACT].
(a) The obligation of Purchaser to purchase under this contract is conditioned upon issuance, on or before sixty (60) days after a fully executed copy of this contract is given to Purchaser or Purchaser’s attorney in the manner set forth in paragraph xx or sub-paragraph xx(j) (the “Commitment Date”), of a written commitment from an Institutional Lender pursuant to which such Institutional Lender [ASK YOUR ATTORNEY WHAT THAT MEANS] agrees to make a first mortgage loan, , to Purchaser, at Purchaser’s sole cost and expense, of $######## for a term of at least 30 years (or such lesser sum or shorter term as Purchaser shall be willing to accept) at the prevailing fixed or adjustable rate of interest and on other customary commitment terms (the “Commitment”). To the extent a Commitment is conditioned on the sale of Purchaser’s current home, payment of any outstanding debt, no material adverse change in Purchaser’s financial condition or any other customary conditions, Purchaser accepts the risk that such conditions may not be met[AGAIN, THIS IS A VERY TRICKY ISSUE-- ASK YOUR ATTORNEY]; however, a commitment conditioned on the Institutional Lender’s approval of an appraisal shall not be deemed a “Commitment” hereunder until an appraisal is approved (and if that does not occur before the Commitment Date Purchaser may cancel under sub-paragraph 8(e) unless the Commitment Date is extended). Purchaser’s obligations hereunder are conditioned only on issuance of a Commitment.

(b) Purchaser shall (i) make prompt application to one or, at Purchaser’s election, more than one Institutional Lender for such mortgage loan, (ii) furnish accurate and complete information regarding Purchaser and members of Purchaser’s family, as required, (iii) pay all fees, points and charges required in connection with such application and loan, (iv) pursue such application with diligence, and (v) cooperate in good faith with such Institutional Lender(s) to obtain a Commitment. Purchaser shall accept a Commitment meeting the terms set forth in sub-paragraph 8(a) and shall comply with all requirements of such Commitment (or any other commitment accepted by Purchaser). Purchaser shall furnish Seller with a copy of the Commitment promptly after receipt thereof.
(c) Prompt submission by Purchaser of an application to a mortgage broker registered pursuant to Article 12-D of the New York Banking Law (“Mortgage Broker”) shall constitute full compliance with the terms and conditions set forth in sub-paragraph xx(b)(i), provided that such Mortgage Broker promptly submits such application to such Institutional Lender(s). Purchaser shall cooperate in good faith with such Mortgage Broker to obtain a Commitment from such Institutional Lender(s).
(d) If all Institutional Lenders to whom applications were made deny such applications in writing prior to the Commitment Date, Purchaser may cancel this contract by giving Notice thereof to Seller, with a copy of such denials, provided that Purchaser has complied with all its obligations under this paragraph 8. [BE SURE YOU ARE WITHIN YOUR TIME, AND KNOW HOW THAT TIME IS MEASURED].
(e) If no Commitment is issued by an Institutional Lender on or before the Commitment Date, then, unless Purchaser has accepted a written commitment from an Institutional Lender that does not conform to the terms set forth in subparagraph 8(a), Purchaser may cancel this contract by giving Notice to Seller within 10 business days after the Commitment Date, provided that such Notice includes the name and address of the Institutional Lender(s) to whom application was made and that Purchaser has complied with all its obligations under this paragraph 8.
(f) If this contract is canceled by Purchaser pursuant to subparagraphs 8(d) or (e), neither party shall thereafter have any further rights against, or obligations or liabilities to, the other by reason of this contract, except that the Downpayment shall be promptly refunded to Purchaser and except as set forth in paragraph 27.
(g) If Purchaser fails to give timely Notice of cancellation or if Purchaser accepts a written commitment from an Institutional Lender that does not conform to the terms set forth in subparagraph 8(a), then Purchaser shall be deemed to have waived Purchaser’s right to cancel this contract and to receive a refund of the Downpayment by reason of the contingency contained in this paragraph 8.
(h) If Seller has not received a copy of a commitment from an Institutional Lender accepted by Purchaser by the Commitment Date, Seller may cancel this contract by giving Notice to Purchaser within 5 business days after the Commitment Date, which cancellation shall become effective unless Purchaser delivers a copy of such commitment to Seller within 10 business days after the Commitment Date. After such cancellation neither party shall have any further rights against, or obligations or liabilities to, the other by reason of this contract, except that the Downpayment shall be promptly refunded to Purchaser (provided Purchaser has complied with all its obligations under this paragraph 8) and except as set forth in paragraph 27.
(i) For purposes of this contract, the term “Institutional Lender” shall mean any bank, savings bank, private banker, trust company, savings and loan association, credit union or similar banking institution whether organized under the laws of this state, the United States or any other state, foreign banking corporation licensed by the Superintendent of Banks of New York or regulated by the Comptroller of the Currency to transact business in New York State; insurance company duly organized or licensed to do business in New York State; mortgage banker licensed pursuant to Article 12-D of the Banking Law; and any instrumentality created by the United States or any state with the power to make mortgage loans.
(j) For purposes of subparagraph 8(a), Purchaser shall be deemed to have been given a fully executed copy of this contract on the third business day following the date of ordinary or regular mailing, postage prepaid.