On certain types of deals, in today's market, there is a good chance a back up offer will get the property. Have your Realtor call the listing agent. If the answer to the following questions is YES, then your chances are greatly reduced (less than 10%) that your backup offer will eventually land the house.
1. The first buyer HAS removed all their contingencies.
2. The buyer is an ALL CASH buyer.
3. The buyer is putting MORE THAN 20% down payment.
4. The property is a short sale with only one lender (and that lender is not B of A).
5. A negotiator was assigned to the short sale in the first 30 days.
6. Escrow is open and the buyer has made a large good faith deposit (3% or more).
7. The buyer has waived or removed appraisal and loan contingencies.
If the response to any or all of these is NO, then your chances increase. In my experience, if the property is a short sale, about 1/3 close with the originial buyer (so you have a 67% chance). Most qualified buyers won't wait 6 months to get an answer on a short sale. They will move on to another property after 30-45 days. On standard sales, the odds are less, but you still have a chance. Here your chances are usually highest where the buyer is making a low down payment and has a low good faith deposit.
A couple of pieces of advice regarding your offer (since you are probably not going to be the only backup offer):
1. Write a strong offer - fair price, short escrow, shortened inspection periods, no or small seller concessions, etc.
2. Have your agent submit a true "backup offer" using the correct C.A.R. form (these are forms provided by the California Association of Realtors and you want to make sure that you submit your offer with a PAA with paragraph 1 completed).
3. Have your backup offer acknowledged in writing (if the seller won't sign the PAA, at least request acknowledgement of receipt of your offer and an agreement to hold it in backup position).
4. Have your realtor check regularly, via e-mail, on the status of your backup offer.
My statistics for success on backup offers? All but 1 of my short sale listings sold to a backup offer (and one of these backup buyers hung in there for 12 months to close the deal). One the buyer side, five of my buyers wrote backup offers - 3 are now owners of the homes they wrote on, 1 just had his offer accepted last Friday and will open escrow today, and 1 had his offer accepted but had to walk away because he received a job transfer. Pretty good odds if you ask me.
Write that strong backup offer if it makes sense and Dare to Dream.
Shel-lee Davis, CDPE
Your Real Estate Consultant for Life
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty