Unlock the Benefits of an Escalation Clause for Real Estate Sellers

Have you ever heard of an escalation clause in a real estate contract? An escalation clause, or “escalator,” is a section in a real estate contract that states that a prospective buyer is willing to raise their offer on a home should the seller receive another offer that is higher. This can be beneficial for both the seller and the buyer.

SELLERS: If you’re selling your home, an offer with an escalation clause gives gives you some protection against losing out on your original purchase price even if the market changes during the transaction of the deal.

BUYERS: And if you’re looking to buy a home, an escalation clause may help you win the bidding war against other buyers. In a competitive real estate market, having an escalator in your offer can give you an advantage over others who don’t.

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By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

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But before you add an escalator clause to your contract, there are some things you need to know.

Read on to learn more about how they work and what to consider before including one in your offer for a home.

What is an escalation clause in a real estate contract?

An  “escalator”, also known as an escalator clause, is a vital part of the real estate contract.
It expresses the buyer’s willingness to raise their offer price in order to secure the desired property.
The clause is triggered by another prospective buyer submitting an even higher bid.

This clause helps give buyers an advantage and eliminates potentially lost opportunities from passing up good deals because of low offers.

It is a protection for buyers and should be considered by any homebuyer who does not want to risk missing out on their dream home due to someone else offering more for it.

If you only make one offer, you risk losing the property to another buyer who submitted a higher offer, that’s why it’s important to consider including an escalation clause.

The escalation amount to be included in the original offer can be decided with the help of a real estate agent. 

Why would a prospective buyer want to use an escalation clause in their offer on a home?

Watch Jeb Smith’s video explanation on the topic

When submitting an offer for a home as a potential buyer, almost anything can happen in the competitive market of real estate.

A prospective buyer may want to make sure that their offer is taken seriously by including an escalation clause in the contract that they have prepared with their real estate attorney.

This clause affirms that if the seller receives a higher bid, the buyer is willing and able to raise theirs in order to ensure they are strongly considered.

The escalator doesn’t guarantee that the offer will be accepted, but it does increase buyer’s chances in a market where multiple offers are received.

It’s a safeguard to protect their interests should competing offers be made on the same property.

Having this resolution set ahead of time helps to create a sense of security for both parties and closes out any uncertainty surrounding the negotiations.

A buyer’s offer with an escalation clause is best for the sellers since including escalation clause in your purchase means that the offer is serious. So writing an escalation clause in a real estate offer may increase your chances of getting your dream house. 

How does an escalation clause work in practice?

An escalator is a useful tool for buyers in the real estate market. In real estate transactions, the use of escalation clauses has become common as it allows buyers to increase their bid without having to actively participate in a bidding war.

Knowing what an escalation clause is and how it works is essential for anyone looking to make a successful offer on a property.

The escalator in your purchase offer automatically increases your bid, giving you a better chance of securing the property in a competitive market.

The clause puts a limit on how much the prospective buyer is willing to increase their offer by and guarantees that their offer will be the highest bid.

This helps reduce the stress and frustration of buyers who may not have the same financial resources as other competitors, as well as uncertainty about when or even if to raise their offer price.

Negotiations over a property’s sale price can be streamlined because buyers are able to express their maximum bid from the very beginning. If you’re hoping to win a bidding war in the real estate market, adding an escalation clause to your offer can give you an edge over the other best offers. 

Benefits of escalation clause in real estate

In a real estate transaction, an offer containing an escalation clause might actually benefit both the buyer and the seller. How a clause for maximum purchase price can benefit the seller?

Resulting in a higher final offer price for the seller, an escalation clause automatically increases the agreed-upon purchase price in the event of market fluctuations.

  1. Market Protection: The escalation clause ensures that the seller obtains the property’s current market value, even if the market fluctuates during the transaction.
  2. Competitive edge: A condition that allows interested buyers to make a competitive offer even in a rising market can encourage competition among bidders. This can result in many bids and a higher selling price for the vendor.
  3. Fast sale: An offer containing an escalation clause helps expedite the negotiation and sales process because the buyer and seller can agree in advance on the parameters of the purchase price, similar to a price cap.

Overall, an offer with an escalation clause offers the seller greater protection and potential benefits. Knowing in advance that someone already has final purchase price in mind shows they are serious in their intention.

Reasons for a Seller to Reject an Escalator clause offer

A seller is not required to accept an offer that includes an escalation clause and there may be several reasons why one might choose not to do so. Here are a few possibilities:

  1. Complexity: An escalation clause can add complexity to the transaction, making it more difficult for the seller to understand and evaluate the offer, especially if their real estate agent it’s not on par with this method.
  2. Uncertainty: An escalation clause can create uncertainty for the seller, as the final sales price is subject to change based on the terms of the escalation clause. This can make it more difficult for the seller to plan and budget for the future.
  3. Lack of Control: An escalation clause can take away control from the seller, as the final sales price is based on an outside benchmark such as the cost of living index or the price of similar homes in the area.
  4. Preference for a Firm Offer: Some sellers may prefer a firm, non-escalating offer, as it provides a clear and definite sales price from the beginning of the transaction.

Ultimately, the decision to accept or reject an offer with an escalation clause is up to the individual seller and will depend on their specific needs, preferences, and goals in the transaction.

Potential drawbacks to including an escalator in your offer on a property?

An escalator can be beneficial in a competitive market when available houses are limited, as it gives buyers an edge over potential rivals by ensuring the strength of their offer in hot real estate markets.

Although escalation clauses can help your offer stand, there are some drawbacks to consider before including it in an offer.

Primarily, the process can become costly because of the overbid amount that is required—which may overshadow the initial budgeted amount—and which can be less appealing to sellers if multiple similarly competitive offers have been submitted.

Furthermore, if other interested parties have not included an escalator in their offer on the home, your bid may become too high for what others might be willing to pay and thus cancel out your chances of receiving the property.

Real estate escalation clause example

An escalator clause is a provision in a real estate contract that automatically increases the agreed-upon purchase price if a specified benchmark, such as the cost of living index or the price of similar homes in the area, increases.

By adding an escalation clause to an offer, the buyer can be protected from paying more than the market value when giving an offer on a house, and the seller is also protected from receiving less than the current market value.

With the right guide to escalation clauses, you can ensure that you have a better chance of securing the property with the highest offer right away, without having to constantly monitor the real estate industry for new offers.

Sellers receive more than one offer in a competitive market for their properties.

But they might not be up to accept the offers without an escalator, since including an escalation clause shows them that the potential buyer is serious about the offer submitted.

The escalation clause is triggered when the seller receives a higher offer from another prospective buyer or in situations such as increase in cost of living occurs.

For example, if the agreed-upon purchase price for a home is $500,000 and the clause specifies a 2% increase in the event of a cost of living increase, the purchase price would increase by the escalation clause automatically to a final offer of $510,000 if the cost of living were to increase by 2%.

As we see from this example, escalation clauses can be beneficial in real estate terms for both the seller and the buyer since it helps to ensure that both parties are fairly compensated in the transaction. 

Digital Tools in Escalation Clause Negotiations

As the real estate market continues to evolve, digital tools and technologies have become increasingly important in facilitating efficient and transparent negotiations, particularly when it comes to escalation clauses.

With the rise of remote work and virtual property viewings, buyers and sellers now rely on digital platforms and communication channels to navigate the complexities of real estate transactions.

In this new landscape, real estate agents play a crucial role in helping their clients understand and effectively use escalation clauses by leveraging digital tools for seamless collaboration and negotiation.

For instance, electronic signature platforms and secure document sharing services have made it possible for buyers and sellers to quickly review, sign, and share contracts containing escalation clauses.

This not only speeds up the negotiation process but also ensures that all parties have access to the most up-to-date information and can make informed decisions.

Additionally, real-time messaging apps and video conferencing tools enable real estate agents to efficiently communicate with their clients, providing instant updates on competing offers and helping them determine the appropriate escalation amount.

In this digital era, it is essential for home buyers to work with real estate agents who are well-versed in utilizing these digital tools to navigate the complexities of escalation clauses and other aspects of real estate transactions.

By embracing the power of technology and staying informed about the latest market trends, home buyers can increase their chances of securing their dream property in today’s competitive real estate market.

Escalation Offers & Bona Fide Offers in Real Estate

In real estate deals, both an escalation offer and a bona fide offer can be used to ensure that a buyer is adequately compensated for the worth of a particular property. Here is a brief explanation of the relationship between the two.

An escalation offer is a form of real estate offer that automatically increases the agreed-upon purchase price based on a defined benchmark that can be but not limited to the cost of living index, multiple offers and higher bids from competing buyer or the price of comparable residences in the area.

A bona fide offer, on the other hand, is a serious and credible way to acquire a property made by a buyer.

Escalation offers and bona fide offers are utilized to safeguard both the buyer and seller from paying more than the market worth for a property.

By combining the two, a buyer is able to make a genuine and legitimate offer to acquire a home, with the extra protection of a price increase in the event of market fluctuations.

This ensures that all parties are compensated properly in a transaction.

Common Misconceptions About Escalation Clauses in Real Estate

Despite the growing popularity of escalation clauses in competitive real estate markets, there are still several misconceptions that home buyers and sellers may have about their use and effectiveness.

By addressing these common misunderstandings, we hope to provide a clearer understanding of escalation clauses and their role in real estate transactions.

1. Misconception: Escalation clauses always guarantee a higher sales price.

Reality: While escalation clauses can lead to higher offers, they are only triggered when a competing offer surpasses the initial bid. If no other offers exceed the initial offer, the escalation clause will not come into effect, and the purchase price remains unchanged.

2. Misconception: Using an escalation clause reveals the buyer’s maximum budget.

Reality: An escalation clause only reveals the buyer’s willingness to increase their offer up to a certain limit. It does not necessarily disclose the maximum amount a buyer is willing to spend on a property. Buyers can be strategic with their escalation limits while working closely with their real estate agents to ensure their budget remains confidential.

3. Misconception: Escalation clauses are only beneficial for the buyer.

Reality: Escalation clauses can be advantageous for both buyers and sellers. Buyers benefit by increasing their chances of securing a property in a competitive market, while sellers can potentially receive higher offers due to the competition among buyers.

4. Misconception: All sellers are obligated to accept offers with escalation clauses.

Reality: Sellers have the right to accept or reject any offer, including those with escalation clauses. They may choose not to accept an offer with an escalation clause for assorted reasons, such as complexity, uncertainty, or a preference for a firm, non-escalating offer.

By addressing these common misconceptions, home buyers and sellers can better understand the role of escalation clauses in real estate transactions and make more informed decisions when navigating the competitive real estate market.

Actionable Tips for Effectively Using Escalation Clauses

By addressing these common misconceptions, home buyers and sellers can better understand the role of escalation clauses in real estate transactions and make more informed decisions when navigating the competitive real estate market.

1. Collaborate with a knowledgeable real estate agent: A seasoned real estate agent can provide valuable insights on the appropriate escalation amounts based on local market trends, recent comparable sales, and the property’s unique features.

2. Set a realistic escalation cap: Determine your maximum budget and establish a reasonable escalation limit with which you are comfortable. This will help prevent overextending your finances and ensure you stay within your means.

3. Consider contingencies: When including an escalation clause, be mindful of contingencies such as home inspections, appraisal requirements, and mortgage approvals.

4. Stay informed about the local market: Keep an eye on local market trends and fluctuations, as these factors can significantly impact the effectiveness of escalation clauses in your real estate transactions.

5. Explore alternative strategies: In addition to escalation clauses, consider other tactics for standing out in a competitive market, such as offering a flexible closing date or providing a personalized letter to the seller.

By following these actionable tips and staying informed about the latest trends in the real estate market, you can maximize your chances of success when using escalation clauses and navigate the home buying process with confidence.

Alternatives to Escalation Clauses in Real Estate Transactions

While escalation clauses can be a powerful tool for securing your dream home in a competitive market, it is essential to consider other strategies that can also help you stand out among multiple offers.

By understanding the different alternatives to escalation clauses, you can make more informed decisions and increase your chances of success in your real estate transactions.

1. All-cash offer: Offering to purchase a property with cash can be a significant advantage in a competitive market. Sellers often prefer cash offers due to the reduced risk of financing falling through and the potential for a faster closing. 

2. Flexible closing date: Accommodating the seller’s preferred closing timeline can make your offer more appealing, especially if the seller requires extra time to find a new home or finalize their purchase.

3. Pre-approval letter: Submitting a mortgage pre-approval letter with your offer demonstrates to the seller that you are interested in the financial capability to purchase the property.

4. Personalized offer letter: Including a heartfelt, personalized note to the seller can create an emotional connection and help your offer stand out, among others.

Share your story, reasons for choosing the property, and how you envision your future in the home.

5. Limited contingencies: Reducing the number of contingencies in your offer can make it more attractive to sellers by simplifying the transaction and reducing potential roadblocks. Aim at a balance between a competitive bid and protecting your interests.


An escalator, is a section in a real estate contract that states that a prospective buyer is willing to raise their offer on a home should the seller receive a higher competing offer.

The inclusion of the clause shows the seller that you are serious about buying the property and are willing to make a competitive offer.

An escalator clause can provide peace of mind for both the buyer and the seller in a market where multiple offers are being submitted. The buyer can increase their bid if necessary, and the seller can rest assured they will receive the highest offer.

A potential drawback of including an escalation clause in your offer is that the sellers may be less likely to accept your initial offer if they know you are willing to pay more.

If you are serious about buying a particular home, and there is significant competition for that home, then you may want to consider adding an escalator to your offer.

George Nicola

VIRTUAL STAGING EXPERT / After eight years+ working in high-end design and property business I realised that we are missing a critical part of the property business. We were not providing enough value to these old and empty properties. Not every buyer would have the opportunity to see the potential of vacant property or in a bad state. The idea of Virtual Furniture Staging the property gives the buyer and seller an incredible chance in seconds of taking the critical decision.