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Contingent vs. Pending: Understanding the Differences

Contingent vs. Pending: Understanding the Differences

You can use the terms “contingent” and “deferred” to describe real estate deals. They are significant. Their slight variations, however, can confuse them.

Clarifying these distinctions is crucial for both consumers and sellers. All because the outcome of a real estate transaction is dependent on it.

In this study, we shall learn what is contingent vs. pending. You’ll study the nuances of these terminologies so you can help consumers navigate the complicated real estate landscape.

What Is the Difference Between Contingent vs. Pending?

Surely, if you are going to buy or sell real estate, you have wondered what contingent and pending mean. There is a slight difference between the two terms.

To begin with, the term contingent already gives us the answer. That is, the sale is only possible under certain conditions. All these conditions must be fulfilled by you or another person.

If someone does not fulfill the conditions, the right to sell passes to a more favorable offer. The term pending refers to a transaction that is already waiting for finalization. So, both terms mean a process.

But the difference is that a property sold with conditions can still accept additional offers. Those that are pending are already nearing completion.

And the options to offer the sale to another person are virtually nonexistent. Differences like these define the dynamics of real estate transactions.

Common Contingencies in Real Estate

couple checking house

In the complex real estate transaction arena, contingencies are critical protections for buyers and sellers. These contingencies are an integral part of the purchase and sale agreement.

They allow the parties to proceed with caution. It ensures that certain criteria are met before the transaction begins.

Familiarize yourself with common conditional terms and conditions. These are the ones that are at the heart of reliable real estate transactions.

#1 Inspection

In a real estate deal, inspections are critical for contingencies. It gives buyers the ability to inspect the property’s condition.

Professionals examine its structural integrity, looking for potential problems. Buyers might renegotiate conditions if the results are disappointing.

They may even back out of the arrangement. It enables people to make educated decisions about real estate deals.

#2 Appraisal

A crucial contingency, or appraisal, determines a property’s value. Lenders order this assessment to ensure collateral matches loan amounts.

For example, the appraisal does not correspond to reality. Then negotiations may ensue, offering options to adjust the price.

Or there may be additional investment by the buyer to bring it in line with market realities.

#3 Financing

Unlike pending real estate, contingent sales provide security for buyers.

It ties the transaction to loan approval. This clause allows buyers to get out of the contract if financing is denied.

There are no penalties involved. It is a protective clause that preserves the interests of both parties.

#4 Title

The title contingency ensures the property’s legal status.

It permits buyers to review the property’s title report for encumbrances or liens.

If issues arise, buyers can request corrections or void the contract. It protects against undisclosed claims and secures clear ownership transitions.

#5 Buyer’s Home Sale

This contingency accounts for situations in which buyers must sell their present home in order to purchase another.

It gives the buyer a fixed period of time to sell; if they are unsuccessful, they can back out.

This clause navigates the complexities of coordinated real estate deals’ scheduling and logistics.

Most Common Contingent Statuses

understanding transaction

You must navigate the dynamic landscape of real estate transactions. You must understand the different status terms when choosing pending vs. contingent real estate.

These statuses reflect key points. They provide insight into the progress and possible outcomes.

Familiarize yourself with the most common conditions. They determine the trajectory of real estate transactions and influence decision-making.

#1 Continue to Show

In this conditional status, the property remains open for showings. However, it does have some offers. Sellers may consider a backup offer.

They add a layer of security in case the initial offer is not accepted. This status reflects a delicate balance between commitment and exploring other options.

#2 No Show

A property marked “No Show” indicates that it’s not available for further showings. This status usually occurs when they accept an offer.

People are no longer actively seeking an additional offer. It emphasizes the seller’s commitment to the existing deal.

#3 With or Without a Kick-Out Clause

By choosing contingent vs. pending status, this status preserves the opportunity to accept a better offer.

It allows sellers to retain the ability to receive more favorable offers. But at the same time, the seller retains the terms of the current contract.

#4 Short Sale

“Short sale” refers to a contingent status. The property’s market value is less than the balance owed on the mortgage loan.

Lenders must approve the sale, and the process can be lengthy. This status signifies a potential opportunity for buyers seeking properties with reduced prices.

#5 Probate

If the property owner dies, the property passes to the court. The property may then be labeled as probate.

This status means that the sale requires court approval. It ensures that the property is legally distributed. It is a unique conditional status often associated with litigation.

What Does Pending Mean in Real Estate?

real estate agent explaining property details

You should be aware that there is a different status in real estate. So, what is the difference between pending and contingent?

It is a critical step in the transaction. It indicates that the seller accepted the offer. And everyone is now meeting the requirements.

The transaction is nearing its conclusion. The property is no longer for sale.

A transaction is incomplete if the conditions are not met by the participants. There is a slim risk that the transaction will not be completed.

Most Common Pending Statuses

Just as in contingent real estate, pending often has different statuses. It reflects the stages of completion of the transaction.

These statuses provide valuable information during the transaction. It lets you understand what to do before closing the deal.

Below, we’ll look at the most common statuses, and each sheds light on different aspects of the process.

#1 Taking Backups

In real estate, this status means the property is under contract. But it is still open for backup offers.

Yes, the owner has accepted the initial offer. But this status shows that the deal has yet to be finalized.

The seller may be considering a secondary offer. This status creates uncertainty. It’s a precautionary measure to ensure a successful sale.

#2 Short Sale

The “Short Sale” pending status denotes a property undergoing a unique transaction process.

For example, the property’s market value does not match the balance owed on the mortgage loan. The owner is in financial distress.

Therefore, a short sale can be conducted. Lenders must approve this sale, which involves accepting less than what’s owed.

This status of the sale reflects the complex e-negotiation process. It often takes longer for the lender to decide, affecting the overall timeline.

#3 No Show

No-show status is a key step in contingent vs. pending real estate transactions. e.g., a property has a status of “No Show.

It means it is unavailable for further showings. This status appears when the owner has made a decision.

The property is no longer actively seeking additional offers. It emphasizes the seller’s commitment to the existing deal.

#4 More Than 4 Months

A status of “more than 4 months” means that the property has been on hold for an extended period.

This status can arise due to difficulties in the transaction process. Although rare, this status emphasizes the complexity and potential delays.

These can affect real estate transactions. It emphasizes the need for patience and perseverance for both buyers and sellers.

Can You Put an Offer on a House That is Contingent?

putting offer for a house

When we looked at what contingent means, we looked at some statuses. And so yes, you can make an offer on a home that is in conditional status.

Conditional status means that the seller has accepted the offer. But some conditions still need to be met before they can finalize the deal.

If you are interested in the property, you can make a backup offer. For example, the seller did not accept the main offer.

It can happen because someone has not met the basic conditions. Then, your backup offer will become the main offer.

It will allow you to express your interest. In doing so, you recognize the uncertainty of the existing transaction.

Can You Put an Offer on a House That is Pending?

While less common, it’s still possible to submit an offer on a house marked as pending.

However, the likelihood of success varies. Sometimes, if the primary offer falls through, the seller may consider backup offers.

However, a pending status means the deal is nearly finalized. Therefore, your offer may face a higher acceptance threshold.

To make an informed decision, we recommend discussing the situation. Discuss it with your real estate agent.


Navigating the intricacies of real estate pending vs. contingent requires understanding.

Their statuses determine the buying and selling process. Each status suggests a complex negotiation. Well, all of these give the real estate journey added complexity.

One thing remains the same. You need in-depth knowledge of contingent vs. pending. It will help you make key decisions in this dynamic field.