Contingent vs Pending Sale: What’s the Difference?

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When you are on the search for a home online you may have seen properties whose status is sale contingent, pending, active contingent, or active under contract. These phrases mean that home is in some phase of the sale process. 

It is important to know the difference between contingent vs pending sales as this can help you find properties that you can still buy. It can inform you about the best way to go ahead if you are interested in bidding on them. 

contingent vs pending sale

When a property is tagged as contingent, the seller has accepted an offer. Contingent deals are active listings as they can fall through if the requested provisions are not met. If everything goes as planned, the contingent deals will advance to a pending state.

Property is marked pending if the seller has accepted an offer and all contingencies have also been met or waived. Pending deals are no longer seen as active listings. A house stays in the pending state till all the legal work is completed. 

Common Contingencies

What can act as a roadblock in property sales even after an offer has been accepted? Below are some common contingencies holding up the sale:

  • Home Inspection Contingency: After inspection, the buyer finds out that the house demands more repairs than they anticipated.
  • Appraisal Contingency: The buyer finds out that the property is not worth as much as they offered once they get it evaluated.
  • Home sale contingency: The purchase is also contingent on the sale of the buyer’s current home. If the buyer is unable to sell the home they are currently living in within a particular time period, they can rescind the contract to buy the new one. 

The contingency that is usually not met is that of a satisfactory home inspection. This is followed by issues during appraisal. 

Kick-out clause: Home sale contingencies are not favorable to sellers. Therefore, they request a kick-out clause that lets them field other offers while the buyer tries to sell their house. If during this time the seller gets another offer they like then the buyer has the chance to remove the contingency and go ahead with the sale. If the buyer does not take this opportunity then the seller can terminate the deal and take up the other offer.

Types of Pending Sales

There are several types of pending statuses also, including:

  • Pending – Taking Backups: The seller has accepted an offer on their home but the deal has hit a snag in the last stages. Maybe there was a problem with a contingency on the offer. Now, the seller is considering backup offers in case the sale does not go through.
  • Pending – Short Sale:  The accepted offer is a short sale and should be approved by external lenders or banks, which neither the buyer nor the seller has control over. This usually results in more time being consumed in the sale process.
  • Pending – More than four months: When sellers list on MLS and the listing remains pending for over four months then the status automatically changes to “more than four months”. The delay could be due to any reason i.e. negotiations, processing period, construction, etc.

Can an offer be made on pending and contingent homes?

If a buyer is interested in a home that is tagged as pending, then there is no legal reason to prevent them from making an offer on such a home. It is up to the owner if they are still looking forward to getting offers. It is best to talk to the seller or their agent to check if they are accepting offers.

As far as homes that are marked contingent are concerned, buyers can still make an offer. Though the initial offer will take precedence if every contingency is met, making an offer can place you at the top of the order if the original deal does not go through. 

Note that you will have to submit an offer that is very appealing. So, if you also make a contingent offer, the seller may pick someone who submitted a non-contingent cash offer. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that the contingent vs pending sale conundrum has been made easier for you now. Such offers are very common in real estate and both buyers and sellers should know the difference and how to deal with them. 

In both cases, the sale has not been finalized completely and there is a probability that the deal could fall through. Irrespective of whether you are making an offer or wanting to sell your house, it is important to discuss the pending and contingency statuses with your respective agents. They can help you cut through the confusion and make a wise decision.

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