Mortgage Dove

Escalation Clause in Real Estate: What Is It and How Can It Benefit You?

When buying or selling a home, it's important to have an escalation clause in your contract. This little-known provision can protect you during negotiations and help ensure that you get the property you want. In this article, we'll discuss what an escalation clause is and how it can benefit you during real estate transactions.

It's not unusual for sellers to get multiple offers in a rising real property market. So, based on the real market you're purchasing the property with, the real estate escalation clause could be essential to secure the house of your dreams. In essence, having an escalation clause during a seller's market is a must for winning bids.

What Is An Escalation Clause?

What is an escalation clause? An escalation clause in real estate  is also known as an "escalator". It is part of a real estate contract stipulating that the buyer may be willing to increase the amount they offer for a property if an offer is higher than the one they are competing with.

The escalation clause will specify how much the buyer will pay over the top bid and the maximum amount they can spend. In essence, escalation clauses give buyers protection if other potential buyers make a higher bid.

Generally speaking, an escalation clause will show the seller how committed buyers are and the extent to which they will go to secure the property. Most of the time, the escalation clause will include a limit on the amount a buyer will spend to beat the offer of others (up to a specified limit).

How does the real estate escalation clause benefit you?

The most important elements of an escalation addendum comprise:

  • What was the initial purchase price?
  • How much will this price increase over a competing offer?
  • What is the maximum purchase price in the case of multiple offers?

It's important to keep in mind that the escalation clause could contain the amount that a buyer must have to pay if their offer is accepted.

Typically, escalation clauses and offers are sent between the buyer and the seller's real estate agent. Escalation clauses are activated when the seller can prove a legitimate offer from a buyer. This implies that the offer is valid and enforceable. It's essential to consult with a real estate lawyer to ensure that both parties are knowledgeable of this legally binding agreement.

Here's an example of an escalation clause:

If a buyer makes an offer amounting to $300,000, it could be possible to include an escalation provision in the offer. It states the amount they're willing to pay over other buyers, but only up to the amount they're willing to pay.

For this instance, we'll assume you're a buyer whose escalation agreement states that they'll pay an additional $5,000 more than the other buyer for a total of $315,000. If there's a $300,000 offer made by a different buyer following the initial offer, the escalation clause makes it more likely to beat the offer. The initial offer is $310,000 which accounts for an additional $5,000 over the competitor's offer.

When should an escalation clause be used in a property transaction?

Escalation clauses can be advantageous, particularly in a seller's market. If houses are selling quickly, it is important to have something that will make an impressive offer in a competitive market and show sellers that you're in it to win it. So, the most effective time to use an escalation clause  is in a bidding war scenario.

Keep in mind that escalation clauses aren't foolproof and might not be the best choice for a specific situation. So, it's a good idea to speak with an experienced realtor about escalation clauses. It's also important to determine the amount you're truly willing to pay for an investment property so that you're not remorseful if a bidding war takes place.

Pros and Cons of real estate escalation clause

An escalation clause is a contract provision that allows for the price of goods or services to increase based on certain conditions.

In real estate, an escalation clause can be used to protect buyers.

  • Buyers will have more assurance about what they are offering.  An escalation clause could help you feel more confident when purchasing a house and keep you to the budget you have set before the purchase.

  • An escalation clause could make the buyer's offer more appealing to sellers.  Escalation clauses demonstrate to the seller that the prospective buyer has a serious interest in purchasing the property.

  • Buyers do not pay too much for a house. Escalation clauses can help protect you from having to pay more than what is required to have your offer accepted.  

While escalation clauses can be beneficial for buyers, they can also be risky.

  • Sellers and buyers lose their chance of bargaining after an escalation clause has been accepted.  This "cap" may remove the bargaining rights of the buyer. Instead, a seller can decide to renounce the escalation clause and request the most expensive price.

  • Sellers who agree to the escalation clauses cannot issue counteroffers to other buyers.  Since buyers may not be making their best offer by using an escalating clause, sellers might refuse it immediately.

  • Escalation clauses can create problems in appraisals if they offer more than the property's appraised price.  The buyer could be successful in a bidding contest only but later find out that the lender will not provide enough money to purchase the property. In this situation, the buyer would have to pay the difference in cash if they want to purchase the house.


If you're thinking about an escalation clause, it's best to speak with an experienced realtor to assist you in understanding the specifics to include a clause in your offer. Working with a realtor who is an expert with an escalation clause can help you to successfully buy a house. The balance of the advantages and disadvantages with an experienced realtor is the best method to locate the house that you've always wanted.  

"Mortgage Dove makes home financing convenient for every American. You can count on us to provide a home buying experience tailored to your personal needs and financial situation. We strive to give you the peace of mind that your home financing goals can be achieved.”


Other Related Articles you may be interested in