Real Estate: Cary, Raleigh, Wake County and Beyond!

Under Contract: “Contingent” vs. “Pending”

Smart Sellers and their agents want to keep a home under contract exposed to Buyers until a contract is free of contingencies. 

And smart Buyers want the home off the market so there is no back up offer to rock the boat and undermine their negotiations on inspections, repairs, appraisal, etc.

The rules from the Triangle MLS regarding Listing Status are clear:

“Contingent” means it can be shown.  “Pending” means it cannot be shown, although there may still be contingencies.

  • Contingent : Contingent status indicates that a property under contract is subject to an additional contingency or condition, i.e. “Contingent Sales Addendum”,  Due Diligence Period, etc. This status reflects a property available for showing and additional offers. A listing in Contingent status will not expire at the end of the listing contract term.
  • Pending : Pending status indicates that a property is under contract and is not available for showings. Listings in this status may include contingencies. The listing will not expire at the end of the listing contract term.

Some Sellers have had enough of showing the home, and prefer to take it to Pending immediately.  That is understandable, particularly if there are young children, difficult schedules, or the Seller just feels that the contract is strong enough that they don’t need further market exposure while working through to closing.

But, the status of the Listing is ALWAYS the Seller’s choice.  A Buyer may try to negotiate the status, but it is not the Buyer’s unilateral call.

When a Buyer’s Agent asks me to take a Listing under contract to Pending status, when I have my Sellers’ approval, I always offer to do so.  I offer to do so as soon as all contingencies are removed, and their client’s Earnest Money is on the line with no protection other than delivery of clear title.

There is broad misunderstanding of the meanings of “Contingent” and “Pending” among members of the TMLS, and a good agent will learn the meaning of the terms, and stand firm for the client when warranted.


Edited on 5.17.2012 to add:  You can now see “Pending” listings on my No Hassle Property Search!

3 thoughts on “Under Contract: “Contingent” vs. “Pending”

  1. Thank you so much for your quality, professional explanation of these often confusing and in some cases mis-used terms. Although we are in the Pacific NW ( Seattle area) your information is much appreciated. The market here is incredible and many homes that are front line ready, so to speak, sell within 72 hours so a clear understanding of status is important, both as a Seller and Buyer. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Charlie.

      It IS a confusing topic for consumers, and even for some agents.
      I’m glad you found this post helpful.

      Mike J

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