Contingent vs Pending Homes for Sale: What’s the Difference?

Contingent vs Pending Homes for Sale: What’s the Difference?

When searching for your new home online you may run across properties that are in different states of activity. The 5 most common types of statuses you’ll see are active, back-up, contingent, pending, and sold. Active and sold are pretty self-explanatory; active homes are still available while sold homes are no longer available.

However, what happens when you find a property that you’re interested in, but it’s marked “contingent,” “pending,” or “back-up”?  What does this mean and can you still buy the property? First, let’s discuss what the difference is between contingent, pending, and backup.

Contingent VS Pending Homes for Sale Whats the Difference

What is Contingent vs Pending vs Back-Up?

What Is Contingent?

When a property is “contingent” it means the seller has accepted an offer, but the contract has contingencies that must be met. If all contingencies are cleared within the contracted due dates the property will be moved to pending status.

What Is Pending?

When a property is “pending” it means the seller has accepted an offer with no contingencies. So the buyer has either satisfied all of their contingencies or has waived them. Once a property goes pending it usually means the deal is solid and both parties are just waiting to close.

What is Back-Up?

When a property is in “back-up” status it means the seller has accepted an offer, but open to accepting a back-up offer. Sometimes it’s because the deal in place isn’t solid or the seller just wants a “back-up” offer in case the deal unexpectantly falls apart. Before you get too excited about a property that’s in back-up status you’ll want to find out why the seller is open to taking back-ups. Over the years I’ve encountered properties in back-up status only to find out they were closing two days later.

Common Contingencies

Contingent VS Pending Homes for Sale Common Contingency Home InspectionInspection Contingency

The most common type of contingency is a home inspection contingency. Whether a buyer is obtaining financing or paying cash they’ll want to have a home inspection performed.

Depending on the contract terms the buyer may be able to cancel the contract if they don’t like the results of the inspection report. They may also be able to negotiate a repair credit if unexpected items popped up, but they’re still interested in moving forward with the purchase.

Financial Contingency

Another common contingency is a finance contingency, which means the contract is contingent on the buyer obtaining a loan. If the buyer is unable to obtain financing within the contingency period they can cancel the contract.

Appraisal Contingency

Another popular contingency is an appraisal contingency, which means the home must appraise for the contracted price. If the home appraises below the contract price within the contingency period the buyer can cancel the contract.

Title Contingency

Almost every single contract will be contingent on the buyer receiving a clean title. If title issues arise while under contract and aren’t able to be cleared up within the contingency period the buyer can cancel the contract.

Home Sale Contingency

It’s rare, but some sellers will accept an offer with a home sale contingency. This means in order for the buyer to purchase their home the buyer has to sell their home first. If they are unable to sell their home they can cancel the contract.

Can You Make an Offer on a Home that’s Contingent or Pending?

Yes, you can make an offer on a home that’s under contract. However, there are two things to keep in mind. One, the seller may not be interested in accepting a back-up offer even if the home is in “back-up” status. Two, the seller may not allow showings. If you found a home that you’re interested in, but it’s under contract contact us to discuss your options.

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How to Avoid Missing Out on Your Dream Home

If you’re too late and missed out on a contingent or pending property it’s time to come up with a plan! Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t miss out on another home.

Hire a Realtor

Sure you can search for property online by yourself, but real estate agents are the first to know about new listings. In fact, they may know about listings that aren’t on the market or will be coming onto the market soon. Not only will they be able to notify you about brand new listings that fit your needs they’ll be able to guide you through the entire home buying process. Don’t make one of the biggest home-buying mistakes, hire a Realtor!

See New Listings Immediately

Even in a strong buyers market great homes sell fast. This is why it’s imperative you see new listings immediately otherwise you may miss out.

Submit a Winning Offer

Once you find your dream home submit a winning offer! Limit the contingencies, keep contingency periods short, put a good chunk of money in escrow and don’t lowball the seller on price.

Contingent VS Pending Homes for Sale Dont Wait to Submit an OfferDon’t Wait to Write an Offer

Odds are you’ll have to look at a few homes before you find the “one” and you’ll know when you find it.

Do not wait to submit an offer because you want to show your best friend, your parents or your teacher from first grade. If you decide to wait you could lose out to another buyer.

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Final Thoughts

Searching for homes online isn’t always easy and oftentimes can be confusing. For starters, not all real estate websites are updated regularly. So when a new listing is entered into the MLS it may not be syndicated or added to third party sites for minutes, hours or days.

And to make it just a little more difficult a majority of websites display all properties. This means you could be looking at homes that are contingent, pending or have already been sold. So when you’re searching for homes online make sure to look for the property status. Even if you select “active” in your home search the results may still show “contingent” and “pending” homes.

If you work with a top Realtor in your area you’ll be the first to know about new listings. You won’t have to worry about looking at homes that aren’t available. However, homes do come back on the market, so don’t completely rule out a contingent or pending home.

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About the Author

Top Wellington Realtor, Michelle Gibson, wrote: “Contingent vs Pending Home for Sale: What’s the Difference?.”

Michelle has been specializing in residential real estate since 2001 throughout Wellington Florida and the surrounding area. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or rent she will guide you through the entire real estate transaction. If you’re ready to put Michelle’s knowledge and expertise to work for you call or e-mail her today.

Areas of service include Wellington, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, Greenacres and more.

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Michelle Gibson Wellington Florida REALTORMichelle Gibson of the Hansen Real Estate Group Inc is a full-time REALTOR who has been specializing in Wellington Florida real estate since 2001. This veteran of the real estate industry has expertise in technology, marketing, and social media.


Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. is a full-service real estate brokerage specializing in residential real estate. As a customer-focused, quality organization, we achieve success one client at a time. Call 561-333-0446 or e-mail me today at [email protected]

Michelle Gibson and Hansen Real Estate Group Inc fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Accessibility Statement


If you are thinking about buying, selling, or renting your home, townhome, condo, or other Real Estate in the following areas; Wellington, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Greenacres, Loxahatchee, Royal Palm Beach, Lake Clarke Shores, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, or Jupiter there are thousands of Realtors to choose from.

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