The Real Estate Showdown: Contingent vs. Pending

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May 15, 2023

If you’ve ever plunged into the world of real estate, chances are you’ve stumbled across properties labeled as ‘contingent’ or ‘pending.’ For first-time home buyers or sellers, these terms can seem a bit puzzling.

This article aims to demystify these often misunderstood terms, providing a clear understanding of what they mean, how they differ, and their implications in the real estate transaction process.

Contingency – What Does It Mean?

Contingent Sale

A property marked as ‘contingent’ implies that an offer has been accepted, but certain conditions or ‘contingencies’ must be met before the sale can proceed. These contingencies can vary widely, but some of the most common ones include home inspections, appraisals, loan approvals, or the sale of the buyer’s current home. Essentially, these are safety nets for the buyer, ensuring they can back out of the purchase without penalties if these conditions are not satisfied.

Pending – The Meaning Unveiled

Pending Short Sale

On the other hand, a ‘pending’ status indicates that the home is in the final stages of the sale process. The contingencies have been satisfied or waived, and the deal is just waiting for the closing paperwork. This status is essentially a ‘no entry’ sign for other potential buyers, as it’s unlikely that the deal will fall through at this stage.

Contingent vs. Pending: The Key Differences

Multiple Listing Service

The primary difference between contingent and pending statuses lies in the phase of the sale process and the room for other potential offers.

With a contingent status, there’s still room for potential buyers to place what’s known as a ‘backup offer.’ This is an offer made in the hope that the current deal may fall through due to unmet contingencies. If that happens, the buyer with the backup offer steps in to seal the deal. However, with a pending status, the chances of the sale falling through are significantly lower, so real estate agents usually don’t accept backup offers at this stage.

Implications for Buyers and Sellers

Financial Contingency

For buyers, a contingent status means there’s still a chance to get the property, albeit slim, if the current deal falls through. It might be worth it to put a backup offer if the property is a perfect match for your needs. However, with a pending status, it might be best to look for other opportunities, as the sale is almost guaranteed to close.

For sellers, a contingent status means they still need to meet certain conditions to finalize the sale. They might need to negotiate repairs after a home inspection or wait for the buyer’s financing to get approved. However, once the status moves to pending, it’s usually smooth sailing until the closing date.

How Does Contingent and Pending Status Impact the Real Estate Market?

Real Estate Listings

In the real estate market, the contingent and pending statuses can significantly impact both buyers and sellers’ decisions. These statuses influence the level of competition in the market, the timeline for transactions, and the perceived value of properties.

For instance, properties with a contingent status can still attract backup offers, intensifying competition and potentially driving up the property’s price. This status can also prolong the transaction timeline, as buyers and sellers wait for the fulfillment or waiver of contingencies.

Conversely, a pending status can expedite transactions as it indicates a near-complete deal, often leading to a shorter wait time for both parties. This status could also raise a property’s perceived value as it signals strong buyer interest and commitment.

Tips for Dealing with Contingent and Pending Properties

Earnest Money Deposit

If you’re a buyer interested in a property listed as contingent, it’s essential to work closely with your real estate agent to understand the specific contingencies involved. They can guide you on the likelihood of the deal falling through and if placing a backup offer would be beneficial.

On the other hand, if the property is pending, it might be more practical to continue your search elsewhere. While there’s still a slim chance for the deal to fall through, it’s often not worth waiting for as most pending sales do close.

For sellers, it’s crucial to understand that while a contingent offer may seem less secure, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less valuable. It’s more about the type and terms of the contingencies involved. It’s advised to work with an experienced real estate agent to evaluate offers and contingencies properly and make the best decision.


Pending or Contingent Listing

Understanding real estate terminologies like ‘contingent’ and ‘pending’ is vital for both buyers and sellers to navigate the complex world of property transactions. Remember, a contingent status means the property is under contract, but certain conditions need to be met before the sale is finalized. Meanwhile, a pending status signals that the sale is in its final stages, with no contingencies remaining. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and navigate your real estate journey with confidence.

Understanding the language of real estate, including terms such as pending and contingent listings, can significantly impact the outcome of your home sale or purchase. Let’s dive deeper into a few more of these terms. An inspection contingency, for example, is a common condition in a contingent property sale. It allows the buyer to conduct a professional home inspection before finalizing the purchase. If significant issues are uncovered during the inspection, the buyer can negotiate repairs, a reduction in the purchase price, or even walk away from the deal without penalty.

A financing contingency is another common term you’ll encounter in real estate. This contingency means that the buyer’s offer is contingent on securing a mortgage loan from their lender. If they can’t secure financing, the buyer can back out of the sale. This is where the ‘kick out clause’ comes in handy. A kick-out clause allows a seller to continue accepting backup offers and potentially kick out the original buyer if a better offer comes along.

Similarly, a home sale contingency allows the buyer to sell their existing home before closing on the new one. On the other hand, a title contingency ensures that the seller has a clear and legal title to sell the property. Understanding these terms is crucial when dealing with a real estate contingent or pending sale. Remember, knowledge is power, especially in the intricate world of real estate transactions.

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