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Contingent Vs. Pending: What’s The Difference?

Miranda Crace3-minute read

June 02, 2022


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There are many ways to go about buying a house. If you’re working with a real estate agent, it’s likely you’ll be primarily focusing on homes listed with agents. The multiple listing service (MLS) is a clearinghouse where real estate agents and REALTORS® can access homes that are listed with other agents. There are several different statuses of homes that are listed on the MLS.

In this article, we’ll look at contingent and pending statuses and discuss what they mean and how they differ.

What Is The Difference Between Pending And Contingent?

A property listed as contingent means the seller has accepted an offer, but they’ve chosen to keep the listing active in case certain contingencies aren’t met by the prospective buyer. If a property is pending, the provisions on a contingent property were successfully met and the sale is being processed.

There are several common contingencies that many home buyers include with their offers to purchase. They might include a home inspection contingency, financing contingency or an appraisal contingency, among others. A pending status indicates that the seller and their agent are confident the sale has passed its major hurdles and is on its way to closing.

Common Contingent Statuses

There are several different subcategories of contingent statuses, each with a slightly different meaning.

Contingent: Continue To Show (CCS)

If an active listing is marked as Contingent: Continue to Show, or CCS, there may be multiple contingencies that need to be satisfied. In this case, the seller and their agent have decided to continue to show the property and may even accept a better offer from another potential buyer.

Contingent: No Show

In a Contingent: No Show scenario, the seller has decided to no longer show the property or accept other offers. This situation could happen because even though there are contingencies, the seller feels they’ll be met.

Contingent: With Or Without A Kick-Out Clause

If the contingent status has a kick-out clause, it means that there’s a deadline for the buyer to fulfill all contingencies. Without a kick-out clause, there’s no set deadline in place. In other words, the seller can take their time to meet all the contingencies listed in the buyer’s offer.

Short Sale Contingent

A short sale is when the seller (usually a bank or other mortgage lender) has indicated that they’ll accept less money than what’s owed on the mortgage. The short sale process can often take months to complete. A Short Sale Contingent status indicates that the home is no longer for sale due to an accepted offer, but the short sale is still in process.

Contingent Probate

The Contingent Probate status occurs with an estate sale due to the death of the homeowner.

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Common Pending Statuses

There are also different subcategories of pending statuses, each with its own distinct definition.

Pending: Taking Backups

The Pending: Taking Backups status indicates that although the real estate listing is pending, the seller is still showing the house and accepting backup offers.

Pending Short Sale

Like the Short Sale Contingent status, Pending Short Sale means the property is going through the short sale process with the mortgage holder. With the Pending Short Sale status, it’s likely the property is further along in the process and not accepting backup offers.

Pending: More Than 4 Months

The Pending: More Than 4 Months status happens automatically in the MLS when a listing has been pending for more than 4 months. This could be an indication that something about the pending sale transaction is taking longer than it does on average. It may also be that the real estate agent forgot to change the status from Pending to Sold after closing.

Can You Make An Offer On A Contingent Home?

If there’s a property you’re interested in that’s listed with an active contingent status, you may still be able to make an offer. While the initial offer will take precedence if all the contingencies are satisfied, making an offer can put you at the head of the line in case the original deal falls through.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to submit an offer that is more attractive than other bids the seller could potentially receive. That means if you plan on making a contingent offer yourself, the seller could decide to go with someone who submitted a non-contingent or cash offer.

Can You Make An Offer On A Pending Home?

A property that has a pending status is further along in the transaction process than one that has  a contingent status. If you’re very interested in a property that’s marked as pending, there isn’t a legal reason that would prevent you from making an offer on a pending home.

It’s up to the individual owner and listing agent whether they’re still interested in receiving additional offers. It’s probably best to talk to the listing agent to see if they’re still accepting offers.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know how to interpret "contingent" and "pending" in real estate listings, it's time to get back to house hunting. Get preapproved online to get the best idea of what you can afford.

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Miranda Crace

The Rocket Mortgage Learning Center is dedicated to bringing you articles on home buying, loan types, mortgage basics and refinancing. We also offer calculators to determine home affordability, home equity, monthly mortgage payments and the benefit of refinancing. No matter where you are in the home buying and financing process, Rocket Mortgage has the articles and resources you can rely on.