There are a lot of confusing terms in the real estate world. If you don’t know everything, it can sometimes feel like everyone’s speaking a different language whether you’re buying or selling a home.


Are you confused about the difference between a pending and contingent home sale? These are terms you’ll discover a lot on online listing websites, but what do they actually mean? If you come across a home with these terms, can you still place an offer? In this guide, we’ll uncover the differences between these two terms so you can enter the home buying process with confidence.



What is a sale contingency or pending sale?


What is a Contingent Home Listing?

First, let’s talk about the term contingent. What does contingent mean in the real estate world? This term is always attached to some kind of condition. If a home sale is contingent, that means the offer has been accepted by the seller but the listing is still active until this condition has been met by both parties.


What are the conditions? These are defined by the parties involved with the home sale. It could be for the homeowner to replace the roof or make some other kind of repair. The listing will still be “active” status until it becomes pending status. Here are some of the most common real estate contingencies:


  • Home inspection contingencies – The lender might want to make sure the home is actually worth the loan amount, so there will need to be an inspection to approve the value of the home.
  • Appraisal contingencies – Most lenders also require an appraisal which is when the appraiser determines the value of the home as well as looks for features that add or subtract from the previous value.
  • Financial contingencies – A financing contingency is a way out of the sale in case the loan falls through or the seller is no longer able to afford the home.


If you see any of these contingency conditions, you’re still able to place an offer on the home. However, it’s not guaranteed that the homeowner will look at it.



What is Pending Status?

Now let’s discuss pending status.  Pending is the period of time between the contingencies being met and the closing of the sale. This means the sale is still being finalized, but it likely will be finalized soon.


A home is pending sale when the offer was accepted and both parties decided to move forward to the sale. This is the final status before “sold,” which indicates the home is no longer on the market. If the home is pending, the homeowner is likely no longer taking any offers. There are only two common pending instances when a homeowner might still be willing to consider offers at this point:


  • Pending short sale – If the home is under contract and still is waiting to be approved from the bank, it’s pending short sale. Short sales are a way to avoid the foreclosure process, but these sales can take especially long and they’re prone to falling through.
  • Pending taking backups – Finally, another pending option is known as “taking backups.” This means the seller is concerned that the deal won’t be finalized, usually due to financial issues. If this is the case, you can still place an offer on the property which will be considered if the first one falls through.



Understanding Common Real Estate Terms: Contingent and Pending

As you can see, contingent and pending mean totally different things in the real estate world. When a home is listed as “sales contingent,” it’s already under contract between the buyer and seller. However, this contract is contingent on some kind of external factor, from inspection to financial.


On the other hand, a home listed as “sales pending” is in the final stages of a purchase. That being said, you’re still free to submit a backup offer that might be considered if the original sale isn’t completed for whatever reason.


You’re free to put in an offer in either situation, but realize the homeowner might not consider it right away. However, if you’ve found your dream home, feel free to go for it. When in doubt, talk to a real estate agent about the best offer for your dream property.