Well, January 4th has passed by, however, I just wanted to give my advice on the topic incase other people like yourself are in the same situation. First, it is always wise to have a Real Estate agent represent you. There are many laws/regulations that must be followed. Having said that, unless the seller has instructed his agent otherwise, all offers must be submitted to the seller as soon as the sellers agent is aware of them. If for some reason escrow does not close, the backup offers are reviewed by the seller. Depending on various points, the seller will then decide which backup offer he/she/they will choose. If you are still looking for a house and are not being represented by a agent, you are more than welcome to contact me so that I may assist you with your search.
Make sure you have loan approval going into the offer as this will make you more appealling to the seller and give you an edge in negotiating price. Call me @ 646-519-7521 or e-mail me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Definitely get a Realtor to represent you in this case - one that is not the listing agent to handle this delicate matter. You want the backup offer to represent you instead of an ammunition for the seller to get the first buyer to perform.
Click on that button or the link below. Then read the profiles of the LA area Realtors and perhaps some of their posts to get an idea of how they think. Call or email one of them, or one of the California Realtors that post a helpful answer to this question about placing a "back-up" offer on a property.
Happy New Year!
You can always put a back up offer on the house. Feel free to email me and we can discuss further. I can be reached at Irina@Irina4RealEstate.com.