What Pending Means in Real Estate

what pending means in real estate

In real estate, “pending” refers to a property that is under contract to be sold.  This means that the seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, all of the contingencies have been worked out, and the contract has been signed.  While the sale is almost complete, the home isn’t officially sold until the title is transferred to the new owner.  And the word pending is just a status used in the profession and on listing websites.

When a real estate agent adds a property to the multiple listing service (MLS), the listing starts with an “active” status, and during the home buying process, the status will be updated to the “pending” status once a seller has accepted an offer.

Pending statuses on MLS (and what they mean) include:

  • “Pending-taking backups” means the seller is still accepting backup offers
  • “Pending-release/continuing to show” indicates that the contingencies have been met, but the buyer will still show and accept offers of their home.
  • “Pending-do not show” is when the seller is no longer showing their house or accepting other bids.
  • “Pending-over 4 months” is any pending listing that has been ongoing for 4 months or more and does have a tentative closing date.

If a listing has a pending status, it is still technically on the market.  Real estate agents can show the home, and because pending sales can and do fall through, you as a buyer can still make an offer.

Reasons a pending sale can fall through are:

  • Issues with financing 
  • Short sale
  • Failed home inspection
  • Buyer’s remorse 
  • Low appraisal
  • Clouds on the title

If any of these happen, your backup offer can be accepted and you can buy the pending house as the status will have changed. 

Pro-tip: Real estate agents can request a heads up from the current listing agent if the pending sale does fall through, so make sure you talk to your agent when shopping for a home and let them know which properties are “must haves” so they can keep an open line in case a property sale falls through.  

If your eye is on a specific home that is pending, a “pending” status is not the same thing as “sold” status, and you can still place a backup offer.  Just because the house is listed as pending does not mean you cannot buy it.  It’s just one obstacle away from you getting or losing your dream home.

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