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3 min read May 29, 2023

What Does ‘Pending’ Mean in Real Estate?

“Pending” in real estate refers to the status of a property that has an accepted offer but has not yet completed the sale. This means that the seller has received an offer from a potential buyer and has accepted it.

However, there are still certain conditions and contingencies that you must fulfill before the sale can be finalized.

These conditions may include home inspections, appraisal, financing approval, or the resolution of any contingencies outlined in the contract.

What Does ‘Pending’ Mean on a House?

When referring to a house, the term “pending” signifies that the property has an accepted offer from a buyer but the deal is yet to close.

These may include house inspections, appraisals, and the settlement of any contract contingencies. Contingencies might include securing finance, performing necessary renovations, or ensuring the property fulfills specified criteria.

When the buyer successfully fulfills all the conditions and contingencies, the pending status changes to “sold.” This update signifies that the seller has finalized the sale and has transferred the ownership of the property to the buyer.

Can You Make an Offer on a Pending House?

Typically, it is not possible to make an offer on a “pending” house. This is because, during this stage, the seller is no longer actively considering other offers.

However, if the pending sale falls through for any reason, the house may revert to active status. At that point, you would have the opportunity to make an offer on the property.

How to Make an Offer on a Pending House?

If you’re interested in making an offer on a pending house, take into account the following factors.

  1. Understand the Situation: Research and gather information about why the house is pending. It could be due to financing issues, failed inspections, or contingencies not being met. You can determine the chance of the prospective sale failing to close by knowing the specifics.
  2. Work with a Real Estate Agent: Seek guidance from a knowledgeable real estate agent who can navigate the complexities of a pending sale. They can provide insights into the situation and help you make an offer.
  3. Be Prepared to Act Quickly: If the pending sale does fall through, there may be multiple buyers waiting to make an offer. Ensure you have your finances in order, including pre-approval for a mortgage if needed. This way, you can act swiftly if the opportunity arises.
  4. Express Your Interest: Notify your real estate agent of your desire to make an offer on the pending house. They can communicate your interest to the listing agent and keep you informed of any updates.
  5. Be Flexible and Accommodating: Understand that the seller may be hesitant to entertain new offers while the current contract is still pending. Be flexible and willing to accommodate the seller’s needs and timelines if they consider your offer.
  6. Submit a Backup Offer: In some cases, the seller may be open to accepting backup offers in case the pending sale falls through. If the seller allows it, work with your agent to submit a backup offer. This will position you as an alternative buyer if the initial contract fails.

Bottom Line

In summary, “pending” on a house means acceptance of an offer with conditions to be fulfilled before completing the sale. It’s an intermediate stage indicating progress toward final ownership transfer.

The pending stage allows you to conduct inspections and proceed with the necessary steps. Overall, it ensures a successful and satisfactory purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between pending and contingent?

"Pending" refers to a property under contract awaiting completion, while "contingent" refers to a property under contract with specific conditions to be met.

How long can a house be pending?

The duration that a house can remain pending varies, but it typically lasts for a few weeks to a couple of months, depending on various factors.

How often do pending sales fall through?

The frequency of pending sales falling through can vary, but on average, it is estimated that around 10-15% of pending sales do not reach completion.


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