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Under Contract: Contingent versus Pending

You've been scouring MLS listings for weeks and finally, a listing comes across your email that you love! The only problem — it's marked as "contingent offer". Your heart sinks as you read "offer". Someone must have already snatched it up, right? Not so fast! While it does mean that an offer has been made and accepted there is a distinct difference in what contingent and pending mean. Luckily, there might still be a chance for you to make an offer.

under contract: contingent vs pending offer

What's the difference between contingent and pending listings?

Contingent Offer

A house that has been marked as contingent means that a potential buyer has made an offer on the house and the seller has accepted the offer. BUT the offer being accepted and the sale becoming final is conditional based on certain requirements being met. Some of the most common contingencies are:

  • Home Inspection Contingency — A home sale is almost always contingent upon passing a home inspection. If issues are revealed as a result of an inspection that were not already disclosed, the buyer can request repairs be completed, compensation be provided to resolve the issues on their own, or they can choose to walk away.
  • Appraisal Contingency — If an appraisal shows that a home is worth less than the sale price/what has been offered, the potential buyer can attempt to renegotiate a lower offer (a lender will not lend more then what a home is worth) or choose to walk away.
  • Mortgage Contingency — If for some reason the potential buyer has not been prequalified to borrow the necessary amount to buy the home then the offer is void and the seller keeps the earnest money deposit.
  • Clear Title Contingency — If there is an issue with the title to the home (if there is doubt in ownership) the potential buyer can walk away. Hint: title insurance is highly recommended as it protects the homebuyer against any future title issues that may have been missed.
  • Home Sale Contingency — In some cases, the potential buyer makes an offer contingent on selling their home first. If their home does not sell within the agreed-upon period of time the home goes back on the market.

If the contingencies are met, the sale moves to pending before becoming a final sale. However, if any of the conditions are not met, the sale falls through and the house is available once again. It's important to note that a home marked as contingent is still considered an active listing as it's relatively common for a home sale to fall through based on contingencies not being met.

contingent home offer

Pending Offer

A pending offer means that an offer was made, all contingencies have been met or addressed and the home is no longer an active listing. A home will remain in a pending state until all legal paperwork has been processed. While a home sale can still fall through once in a pending state, it's much less common.

It's important to keep in mind that regardless of the "under contract" state a home may be in, up until the time a home is officially marked as sold, you can almost always make an offer. Don't be afraid to talk with your Real Estate Agent about your options, especially if you've fallen in love with a home currently under contract. Although it's important to not become too invested — a home isn't sold until it's sold. Good luck!

Want more advice about all things home — including homebuying or selling advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a Ready Report that will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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Ready To Become A Smarter Homebuyer?

By signing up, you agree to Nestiny terms of use .
Whether you need a step-by-step guide, video resource or one of our many helpful tools, Nestiny has your back 24/7 for all things home buying and selling. You choose the pace, material, and when and where to learn. Unlock your free access to Nestiny today!
Are you a real estate professional? Go here .
By clicking this button, you'll enjoy free unlimited access to Nestiny and agree to our terms of use . And don't worry! Nestiny will not share your information with any parties without your consent.