Knowing the differences between contingent vs. pending is crucial, as it can help you understand how close a property is to being sold. These terms can give you important clues about a property’s journey, guiding your expectations as you navigate the process of finding your dream home.

    Keep reading to learn more about contingent vs pending and what each term means when it comes to the real estate market.


    • In real estate, contingent means a property has accepted an offer, but the sale is not finalized. The deal hinges on meeting specific conditions.
    • Common contingencies include home inspection, appraisal, financing, title verification, and home sale clauses.
    • When a property is pending, the seller has accepted an offer and the sale is in progress but not finalized. The term implies that certain contingencies have been met.
    • You can still make an offer on a home if it’s listed as contingent or pending, but you should consider where the property is in the process to determine the likelihood of your offer being accepted. 

    What Does Contingent Mean in Real Estate?

    When shopping for a home, you might hear the term “contingent,” but does this mean that it’s been sold? What does contingent mean? In real estate, contingent refers to a property with an accepted offer, but a sale that isn’t yet finalized. 

    The term indicates that certain conditions or contingencies must be met for the sale to proceed. A contingent status means the deal is in progress but not fully confirmed until all requirements are met. Buyers and sellers often continue to show interest in a property that’s contingent, as there’s still a possibility the deal may not move forward if the contingencies aren’t met. 

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    Common Contingencies in Real Estate

    Contingencies act as safeguards, allowing buyers to thoroughly assess the property and giving both parties the opportunity to negotiate or withdraw from the deal based on specific circumstances. Here are a few common contingencies: 

    • Home inspection: This allows the buyer to conduct a professional inspection of the property. If they discover significant issues, the buyer can negotiate repairs with the seller or back out of the deal. 
    • Appraisal: Contingent on the property’s appraisal, this clause ensures that the property’s value aligns with the agreed-upon purchase price. You can ask your lender to explain the appraisal process thoroughly, helping you make informed decisions based on the property’s assessed value and ensuring that it aligns with your financial expectations. 
    • Financing: This contingency safeguards the buyer in case they cannot secure financing for the purchase after going through the mortgage underwriting process. If the buyer can’t obtain a mortgage, they can often exit the deal without penalty. 
    • Title: Ensuring a clear title is crucial, and this contingency allows the buyer to back out if title issues arise, such as liens, easements, or other encumbrances. 
    • Home sale: This contingency is common for buyers who need to sell their current home to finance the new purchase. The offer is contingent on the successful sale of their existing property. 

    Understanding the Meaning of Contingent Statuses

    Now you should have a basic understanding of the meaning of contingent in real estate. However, there are various types of contingent statuses that can help you determine whether a house is still available for purchase. A few contingent statuses you should know are: 

    Continue to Show

    The continue to show, or contingent: continue showing (CCS), status tells buyers that the property is still technically on the market. Even though an offer has been accepted, there are still multiple contingencies that must be satisfied. The seller and their agent are still entertaining better offers from potential buyers or looking for backup offers in case the deal falls through. 

    If you choose to make an offer on a home with a CCS status, consider getting mortgage pre-approval to ensure the seller that you’ve already been vetted by a lender and are a serious buyer, or make a cash offer to stand out from the crowd. 

    No Show

    The no show status is the opposite of the CCS status, in which the seller has decided not to show the property or accept additional offers. Since they’re not actively accepting offers, you may have to keep an eye on the property to see if the deal falls through. However, if a seller has decided not to show the property or accept offers, they’re fairly confident the contingencies will be met. 

    Kick-Out Clause

    If there’s a kick-out clause, there’s a deadline to fulfill all contingencies. If the contingencies aren’t met, the buyer or seller can back out of the deal. 

    Short Sale

    A short sale occurs when the seller, typically a lender or bank, agrees to accept less money than is owed on the mortgage and ultimately takes a loss. This status indicates that the property is no longer on the market due to an accepted offer, but the sale process hasn’t been completed yet. 


    A probate status occurs when the house is being sold because the homeowner passed away. This legal process reviews the will and assets of the deceased to determine the distribution of those assets. While it’s possible to make an offer on a house in probate, the legal process can be long and complex. 

    What Does Pending Mean in Real Estate?

    While contingent means that a property is actively listed and may still be accepting offers, pending means that the property has an accepted offer and the sale is in progress but not yet finalized. The term indicates that certain contingencies have been met or waived, and the transaction is moving toward completion. 

    A home’s for sale signpost has a white sign with “SALE PENDING” in red text positioned on top of it.

    During this stage, the property is off the market, and the sale is pending finalization, including activities like inspections, appraisals, and completing the necessary paperwork before closing. 

    Understanding the Meaning of Pending Statuses

    In real estate, various pending statuses indicate different stages of a property sale. Here are common types of pending statuses:

    Taking Backups

    When a property is taking backups, it has accepted an offer and is under contract. However, the seller is open to accepting backup offers in case the primary offer falls through. 

    Short Sale

    When a property labeled “Pending” also indicates a “Short Sale” status, it implies that the accepted offer involves a short sale, awaiting approval from the lender or banks—an external process beyond the buyer and seller’s control. This adds an additional layer of complexity and potential delays to the finalization of the sale.

    More Than 4 Months

    This status means that the accepted offer occurred at least four months ago, and the deal hasn’t closed for whatever reason. Potential reasons for this include delays in negotiations, issues with the property, or the property’s true status, which the listing agent hasn’t yet updated. 

    How Common Is It for Contingent Offers to Fall Through?

    Contingent offers in real estate have a relatively high success rate, with the majority resulting in a successful sale. However, the likelihood of a contingent offer falling through can vary based on factors such as market conditions, the specific contingencies involved, and the parties’ diligence in meeting those contingencies. 

    Common contingencies include inspections, appraisals, and financing; if any of these aspects uncover issues, the deal may face challenges. While it’s not uncommon for contingent offers to proceed smoothly to closing, it’s essential for both buyers and sellers to stay vigilant and actively address any potential issues to increase the chances of a successful transaction.

    Can You Make an Offer on a House Labeled Contingent or Pending?

    You can still make an offer on a house labeled contingent or pending. However, when a property has one of these statuses, it means that an offer has been accepted, so the sale is in progress. The deal hasn’t been finalized, so it still gives you an opportunity. 

    As a prospective buyer, it’s crucial to understand the different statuses. If the property is in the early stages, the seller might be more open to considering additional offers. However, if the sale is pending and well into the process, the seller might be less inclined to entertain new offers, especially if accepting another offer could lead to financial repercussions for them. 

    Buyers should communicate with their real estate agent to navigate this type of situation. The agent can provide insights into the seller’s position, the progress of the current deal, and whether the seller is open to considering new offers. Additionally, the buyer may need to act quickly and present a compelling offer, demonstrating seriousness and flexibility to address concerns the seller may have about changing the status of the sale. 

    Understand the Difference Between Contingent vs Pending

    Navigating the complexities of real estate involves understanding the difference between contingent vs. pending. The distinction holds significant weight for both buyers and sellers. Moving from contingent to pending signals a more advanced stage in the process. However, even in a pending status, sellers might be willing to accept additional offers. 

    Trust Griffin Funding as your mortgage ally. With a commitment to transparency and borrower satisfaction, we ensure a smooth and informed mortgage experience. Explore competitive loan terms by applying online, or download the Griffin Gold app today to review loan options, chat with our mortgage professionals, access financial wellness tools, and more. 

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    Bill Lyons

    Bill Lyons is the Founder, CEO & President of Griffin Funding. Founded in 2013, Griffin Funding is a national boutique mortgage lender focusing on delivering 5-star service to its clients. Mr. Lyons has 22 years of experience in the mortgage business. Lyons is seen as an industry leader and expert in real estate finance. Lyons has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Wall Street Journal, HousingWire, and more. As a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association, Lyons is able to keep up with important changes in the industry to deliver the most value to Griffin's clients. Under Lyons' leadership, Griffin Funding has made the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list five times in its 10 years in business.