contingent vs pending

Contingent vs Pending: What Is The Difference?

What should you do if the house you want is listed as "contingent" or "pending"? Here's how to tell the difference between contingent vs pending offers in real estate, and if you may make an offer on a house that has one of these statuses.

December 25, 2021

When looking for a new house, you’ll come across homes in various stages of development. What should you do if the house you want is listed as “contingent” or “pending”? What does the term “contingent” signify in the real estate world? In real estate, what does the term “pending” mean? Knowing the difference between pending vs contingent properties can help you identify homes that you might still be able to buy, as well as how to proceed if you are. 

Here’s how to tell the difference between contingent vs pending offers in real estate, and if you may make an offer on a house that has one of these statuses. Let’s find out together with   RealEstate-Prep!

contingent vs pending

A contingent property is one in which an offer has been accepted and the home is under contract, but certain criteria must be completed before the home may be sold. These are referred to as contingencies.

Contingencies are provisions in the sales contract that must be discussed and agreed upon by the buyer and seller in order to be legally binding. These provisions specify the requirements that must be met before the sale may proceed. Failure to eliminate those clauses may allow the buyer to withdraw from the contract while keeping their earnest money.

“Once they have an accepted offer from a buyer, that’s entered under contract,” Chloe de Verrier, a realtor representing Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, says.

“Under contract” refers to the initial several weeks when the buyer is conducting all of their due diligence. “A home will be considered pending once the buyer has removed all contingencies, indicating that they are absolutely going to close on the deal,” she says.

Pros and Cons of Contingent Offers

Contingent offers have both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, they allow buyers to secure a property they desire while providing flexibility to address any specific conditions or requirements. On the other hand, sellers may perceive contingent offers as uncertain and may be hesitant to accept them, especially if they have alternative non-contingent offers.

Read more>> What Does Contingent Mean In Real Estate?

When a home is shown as pending, it means that an offer has been accepted, all conditions have been met or waived, and the home is no longer on the market. However, the deal has not yet been finalized, and a pending property might still be advertised for sale.

Sellers cannot lawfully pull out of a pending house sale. The buyer, though, can still cancel the deal. “Even if a buyer came to (the seller) two days after selecting an offer and said, ‘I’ll offer you $500 grand more than what you have now,’ the seller can’t legally take that deal,” de Verrier argues.

She adds, “If all contingencies are removed, a buyer cannot cancel the contract and keep their earnest money deposit.”

Earnest money is normally 1% to 3% of the purchase price, but in really hot markets, it might be 10% or more. It might also be a predetermined monetary sum stipulated in the contract.

Pros and Cons of Pending Transactions

Pending transactions provide both buyers and sellers a sense of assurance. It signifies that the buyer’s offer has been accepted, and the property is no longer offered for purchase by others. Sellers may be assured that the transaction is moving through and can begin preparing their next steps. However, unanticipated complications might still emerge, causing delays or even transaction cancellation.

Read more>> What Does Pending Mean in Real Estate?

What Is The Difference Between Contingent Vs Pending?

While contingent and pending both represent different stages of a real estate deal, there are distinct differences between them. The key distinction lies in the fulfillment of conditions. A contingent offer has conditions that need to be met, while a pending transaction indicates that all the conditions have been satisfied.

Contingent offers allow for flexibility and the possibility of backing out if the conditions are not met. In contrast, pending transactions signal a higher level of commitment and certainty, as the deal is in progress and on its way to completion.

Both contingent and pending offers have significant impacts on the real estate market. Contingent offers can influence pricing dynamics, as sellers may factor in the uncertainty associated with contingent offers. Pending transactions indicate market activity and can contribute to the overall sentiment of buyers and sellers.

To navigate the real estate market effectively, both buyers and sellers should consider best practices. Buyers should carefully evaluate the contingencies and ensure they have a realistic plan to meet them. Sellers should assess the risks and benefits associated with contingent offers and pending transactions to make informed decisions.

What Are Common Contingencies In Real Estate?

A variety of factors can influence real estate contingencies. The following are some of the most typical contingencies when purchasing a home:

Financial Contingency

If you are unable to obtain a mortgage, a finance contingency, often known as a mortgage contingency, allows you to exit the contract.

You should get pre-approved for a mortgage before making an offer on a property. Even if you receive a pre-approval letter, the lender may uncover additional facts throughout the screening process, your financial situation may deteriorate, or mortgage rates may rise, making it more difficult for you to qualify. In some situations, you may be unable to secure a mortgage and hence cannot purchase the home.

Appraisal Contingency

If your lender deems that the home’s worth is less than the purchase price, an appraisal contingency permits you to pull out of the contract.

In order to assess the fair market worth of a property, a professional home appraiser evaluates it from the inside out.

Inspection Contingency

An inspection contingency entails you, the buyer, paying a professional home inspector to examine for serious issues that might affect the house’s value, safety, or livability.

If the house inspection discovers massive issues, you and the seller can work out a solution to keep the purchase together. For example, the seller may do the required repairs or reduce the purchase price by the expected cost of the repairs so that the work may be completed after the closing.

Contingency with a kick-out clause

A kick-out clause in a house purchase contract indicates that the seller and buyer have agreed that the seller will take backup offers as long as the buyer’s offer is conditional on the sale of their home.

A kick-out clause is often used in conjunction with a sale contingency, as explained below. A “48-hour kick-out clause” or “72-hour kick-out clause” may be included in the listing, specifying how long the buyer under contract has to waive their selling contingency and present proof of financing before the seller may accept a backup offer.

Title contingency

Any real estate transaction should include a title search. You’ll pay a title firm to ensure that the seller is the only one who has a legal claim on the property.

If the title search shows title problems that cannot be rectified, a title contingency permits you to walk away. A title contingency, for example, would require the seller to pay off a contractor’s lien from work the seller hasn’t paid for if they want to sell the house to you.

Sale contingency

If you can’t sell your present house, a sale contingency permits you to get out of the deal. Assume you’re moving from New Orleans to Nashville and just need to transport your belongings once. To get the finances needed to purchase a new home in Tennessee, you must first sell your current property in Louisiana.

You’ll want to include a sale contingency in your Nashville house purchase agreement so you don’t lose your earnest money if your New Orleans home doesn’t sell inside the purchase contract’s time frame.

Closing contingency

Let’s imagine you’ve found a buyer for your property in New Orleans, but the transaction isn’t yet complete. If your buyer can’t close within a certain time frame, a closing contingency, also known as a settlement contingency, can let you walk out of your Nashville deal without penalty.

What Are The Most Common Pendings In Real Estate?

In real estate, there are several types of pending sales. Let’s take a look below as we listed some of the most common kinds in the field!

contingent vs pending

Pending – Taking Backups

The seller accepted an offer on their property, but something went wrong in the final stages; perhaps there was a problem with the offer’s contingency. In the event that their sale goes through, the seller is now accepting backup offers.

Pending – Short Sale

The accepted offer is a short sale, which means it must be authorized by extra lenders or banks beyond the control of the buyer or seller, which might take a long time to complete.

Pending – More Than 4 Months

For more than four months, the accepted offer has been waiting. This might be the result of stalled talks, construction delays, longer-than-usual processing times, or just an agent’s failure to update the listing status.

How Often Do Contingent Offers Fall Through?

While it’s difficult to say how many dependent or pending offers fail each year, some research suggests that roughly 4% of all house transactions fail. In other words, while the great majority of purchases are completed, agreements can fall apart for a variety of reasons.

Can You Still Put An Offer On A House That Is Contingent Or Pending?

The answer is that if you fall in love with a house that is contingent or pending, you should contact a real estate agent as soon as possible to discuss your possibilities for making an offer. It’s crucial to remember that you can make an offer on a house at any point during the process, which is why having the most up-to-date information and working with a real estate agent who knows how to manage complicated transactions is important.

How To Get A House Before It Gets Pending Or Contingent

To avoid making offers on properties that are contingent or pending, make it a habit to visit any home you’re interested in as soon as feasible. You’ll need a well-informed plan if you truly want to snag a house that’s labeled as contingent or pending.

contingent vs pending

Make contact with the listed agent through your agent

Find out how far along the contract offer is – what inspections have been completed? What are the buyer’s and seller’s thoughts on the transaction? Is it possible to make a backup offer on the present contract?

Consider making without-contingency offer

Waiving contingencies or making an offer without them is appealing to sellers, and depending on the contract they’ve signed, it may allow them to convince their present buyer to drop their conditions or walk away from the discussions entirely.

Write a personal letter

It doesn’t hurt to write a personal appeal to the present homeowners if there is a contingent or pending house that you simply can’t pass up. It’s not always feasible to determine the dynamics of a house sale, regardless of the listed status or what the listing agent says. If the homeowners are dissatisfied with the discussions, submitting a compelling offer accompanied by an equally convincing letter may give you an advantage over the existing purchasers and any future bids.


What is the difference between “contingent” and “pending”?

The difference is that dependent postings must still fulfill one or more specified requirements before proceeding. Conditions have been satisfied in ongoing transactions, and both parties intend to proceed to close.

Can a contingent property still be shown to potential buyers?

Generally, contingent properties can still be shown to potential buyers as backup offers can be considered if the initial offer falls through.

How long does a property typically stay in the contingent status? 

The length of the contingent status is determined by the contingencies involved and the efficiency with which the parties concerned satisfy those constraints. It might last anywhere from a few days and several weeks.

Can a contingent offer be withdrawn by the buyer?

Yes, a contingent offer can be withdrawn by the buyer if the contingencies are not met within the specified timeframe.

When does a property change from contingent to pending? 

A property changes from contingent to pending once all the contingencies have been satisfied or waived, and the sale is moving forward toward completion.


Contingent vs pending offers are common In real estate, and buyers and sellers should understand what they entail and how to handle them. Under any conditions, the transaction has not been completed, and it is still possible that it will fail. Whether you’re making an offer or attempting to sell your home, it’s critical to discuss conditions and pending statuses with your agent.

To reinforce your knowledge in this field, you could take our Real Estate practice exam on either website or application available on both IOS and Android.