It's not a happy occasion when a listing is B.O.M--real estate agent jargon for Back On the Market. A listing that is B.O.M. sold but didn't close. For some reason, before the closing, the deal fell apart. The sellers are now searching for another buyer.

Your first inclination, on hearing that a listing is B.O.M., might be to think there's something wrong with it. This is not necessarily the case.

Before rejecting a B.O.M. listing, find out why the deal fell apart. The reason may have nothing to do with the property itself. In this case, the sellers, who were counting on their home being sold, could be anxious or even desperate for another sale. You could be in an excellent bargaining position with such a listing, particularly if you've done your homework and are pre-approved for the mortgage you need.

Even if the transaction did fall apart due to a property defect, the home may still be one worth considering as long as the defect is correctable and the price is right.

Many home sales fall apart during the inspection process. Most home purchase contracts include a contingency that allows the buyers to have the property inspected by professional contractors or engineers. If the inspections reveal defects that the buyers can't accept and that the sellers won't fix, the deal is often canceled.

FIRST-TIME TIP: Find out as much as possible about past inspections and the condition of the property. Ask the listing agent for copies of all inspection reports and seller disclosures on the property. Call the inspectors for answers to any questions you might have.

You may be able to pay the home inspector who inspected the property for the first buyers to meet you at the property and review his or her inspection report with you. If you do decide to make an offer, include an inspection contingency even though the property has already been inspected. A second opinion won't hurt.

There's a certain amount of subjectivity involved in the inspection process. And, sometimes inspectors make mistakes; they're only human. Also, inspectors are often overly cautious in their findings due to the liability they have for their inspection reports.

For example, a home inspector might notice cracks in the foundation. Are they serious, indicating a major problem, or are they insignificant? The home inspector might not be qualified to say. In which case, he or she would probably recommend that a structural engineer be called in to examine the foundation cracking. Such a recommendation might frighten a nervous, novice buyer. However, an engineer's evaluation could reveal that the cracking is normal and not structurally significant.

Some buyers are scared off by defects even though, when corrected, the property will be fine. This is particularly so with first-timers who know little about home maintenance.

Busy, inexperienced buyers are often put off by doing work of any kind on a property, even if the sellers agree to pick up the tab. If you can see a property's potential and can live through the renovations, you might get a good deal as the second buyer of a listing that is B.O.M. due to deferred maintenance.

THE CLOSING: Find out if the first deal fell apart because the sellers were unreasonable. An example might be sellers who are commanding a high price for a home that needs a new roof. They refuse to budge on their price and they won't contribute a dime towards replacing the roof. Your might not want to waste your time on this one.