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Contingent vs Pending, What Do They Mean?

By Michelle Gibson | April 18, 2020

If you are looking for a new home online, or simply window shopping on the internet, you might have realized the real estate market is a little bit more complicated than “for sale” and “sold." When viewing homes online you may have noticed there are a lot of houses listed with their description, price and something you were not expecting: a “pending” or “contingent” sign. Perhaps it is even more detailed, with little warning signs that say things like “contingent – continue to show”. You might think it is hard to crack real state lingo, but they are easy concepts to follow. Concepts you should be familiar with if you are planning to buy or sell a house in the near or distant future.

As you probably know, buying or selling a house is not a simple, linear process. There are different stages involved in the housing market. Each of them might be related to a different part of the sale: whether it’s the down payment, financing related or the paperwork. Every step in a real estate transaction is vital and important. These steps may prove too difficult for some buyers especially those who are unprepared. Knowing what pending and contingent means can help you navigate your home search.

What does contingent mean?

Contingent means an offer has been accepted by the seller, but there are contingencies that need to be met before house ownership changes hands. There can be one or more contingencies, such as the buyer securing the money necessary to close the deal or the house having to pass an inspection.

There are a lot of possibilities regarding contingencies and until they are met the house is technically for sale. Some properties remain on the market when deals are contingent just in case said contingencies are not met and the deal falls through. It might not seem like it, but that scenario is more common than what you’d want to believe.

There are different contingency statuses, the most common ones are:

Contingent – No Show
Both parties have agreed to terms, but contingencies have to be met before the deal is closed. The seller is no longer showing the house or taking any more offers.

Contingent – Continue to Show
Even though the seller has accepted a buyer’s offer, the house is still available to view. The seller is also open to accepting a back-up offer.

Contingent – No Kick Out
The seller has accepted an offer with contingencies and as long as the buyer meets their contingency due dates the seller can not kick them out. This means the seller can't cancel their current contract and accept another one.

Contingent – Release or Kickout:
The seller has accepted an offer with contingencies. However, the seller can cancel the contract, kick-out, the buyer if their contingencies aren't met within a specific time period.

What does pending mean?

Once the seller accepts an offer and the contingencies are met, there is not much to do but sign the paperwork to finish the sale. That moment is where the sale goes from contingent to pending. There are several scenarios of a pending sale, such as:

Pending – Continue to Show
The seller has accepted an offer and contingencies have been met. If a kick-out clause is in place or the seller doesn't feel like the deal is going to go through they may continue to show.

Pending – Taking Backups:
The seller has accepted a buyer’s offer but is still taking other offers just in case.

Pending – Over Four Months
A house has been in the middle of the selling process for four months or longer. More likely than not, the house is soon to be sold.

Pending – Do Not Show
This is the final stage of a sale and most likely a done deal. For what it’s worth, a house in this stage is sold.

Does a contingent or pending sign mean I lost my chance?

No, absolutely not. Contingencies are not always met. And even if the house is on the pending stage, the deal can fall through before it’s finished. There are a lot of times when you can still submit an offer and the best case scenario end up getting the house.

Additional Resources about Properties Under Contract

  • Are you looking to buy a home, but have contingencies such as financing or a home inspection? Don't worry! Just because you have contingencies doesn't mean you won't be able to buy a home. With the right Realtor guiding you through the process they'll be able to help you submit the strongest offer.
  • Is there a difference between contingent and pending status? Yes, when a home is contingent it means the buyers have contingencies that must be cleared. The most common types of contingency are inspection, mortgage and appraisal. While when a home is pending it means there are no contingencies and most likely a done deal.
  • Can you buy a home that's contingent? When a home is "contingent" there is always a possibility the transaction may fall apart and the home will come back onto the market. It's very important for your agent to contact the listing agents for any contingent properties of interest.

About the Author

Top Wellington Realtor, Michelle Gibson, wrote: "Contingent vs Pending, What Do They Mean?”

Michelle has been specializing in residential real estate since 2001 throughout Wellington Florida and the surrounding area. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or rent she will guide you through the entire real estate transaction. If you’re ready to put Michelle’s knowledge and expertise to work for you call or e-mail her today.

Areas of service include Wellington, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, Greenacres and more.

Michelle Gibson is a top Realtor who has been specializing in residential real estate throughout Wellington Florida since 2001. She enjoys sharing her real estate experiences with buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants through her writing.
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