Contingent vs. Pending: Can You Still Buy the House?

March 5, 2021 | 4 Minute read

Contingent vs. Pending

Can you identify contingent vs. pending on a home listing? If you’re searching for a home, whether online or by hitting the streets, you’ve most likely noticed that not every listing has a simple and straightforward “for sale” or “sold” next to the listing. Some listings may say “pending,” others may say “contingent,” and others may even include more detail, such as “contingent — continue to show” or “pending — taking back up offers.”

While all of these statuses indicate that the home is in some stage of the sales process, they don’t all mean the same thing. Knowing the difference between them can help you identify potential properties that you may still be able to buy — and how you should best move forward if you find one that you’re interested in. 

Contingent vs. pending — what do they mean?

“Contingent” simply means that the seller has accepted an offer — but it’s an offer that comes with certain contingencies, meaning a condition or conditions that must be met in order for the sale to go through. For instance, the home may still have to pass inspection, the buyer may still be in the process of securing financing, or a number of other possible factors or conditions. No matter the case, the listing is technically still active until all of the specified contingencies have been met. 

There are a number of different contingent statuses that you may see on listings, including the following: 

  • Contingent — Continue to Show. This means that the seller has accepted an offer that depends on one or more contingencies that need to be met. While these are being worked out, the seller is still allowing other buyers to view the property and submit offers.
  • Contingent — No Show / Without Kick Out. The seller has accepted an offer that has contingencies but is no longer showing the home or accepting offers. 
  • Contingent — Release / Kick Out. This means that there is a specific deadline in place, by which the buyer must meet all contingencies. The seller is still willing to show the home and also accept other offers. 

Once an offer has been accepted and all that is left to do is the final paperwork and the closing, the status of the listing shifts to “pending.” There are also a number of different types of pending statuses you may see, including the following: 

  • Pending — Taking Back Ups. When you see this status, it means that the seller is still taking back up offers, in addition to their first accepted offer. 
  • Pending — Release / Continue to Show. This means that an offer has been accepted and that some contingencies have been met, but one or both parties still have some of a clause that could release them from the sale. The seller is still willing to show the home and accept offers, in this case. 
  • Pending — Do Not Show. Simply put, this means that the sale is basically a “done deal.” In this case, the seller is no longer showing the home or accepting any additional offers. 
  • Pending — Over 4 Months. When this is the status, it means that the home has been in the sales process for 4 months or longer. In this case, the listing should include some idea of a tentative closing date. 

What to do if you want to to make an offer 

While it helps to temper your expectations and hopes, it’s not at all unheard of for contingent or pending offers to fall through. If you find a listing that is either contingent or pending that you love, there are steps that you can take to help get your foot in the door and also increase your chances of potentially landing the home. 

  1. Have your agent speak to the listing agent, or reach out to him or her directly yourself. The listing agent will be able to tell you how long the contingency period is, or when the release date is up. 
  2. Make a strong offer. If you really want the home, now isn’t the time to try to score a deal. Making an offer at or above asking price, or waiving all contingencies can help to increase your odds of a winning bid. 
  3. Write an offer letter to the seller. Lastly, include a handwritten letter with your offer. Make a direct appeal to the seller — and make it personal. 

Even if you’re not willing to make an above asking price offer, or to pay earnest money and option fees on an official back up contract, you should at least have your agent contact the listing agent to express your interest. That way, if the sale does fall through, you’ve left the door open and the seller knows there are other interested parties out there. 

Understanding Contingent vs. Pending with Reali 

Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been searching for houses to buy for months, Reali’s got your back. Reali agents are experienced local agents who work with your best interest in mind at every step of the transaction. 

All of our agents are experts in the areas they serve. They’ll support you through the entire process, from search to negotiations, throughout the paperwork process and close. Talk to an agent today.

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