What does “pending” mean in real estate?

The feeling you get when you finally set eyes on your dream-home-to-be is like none other. It’s got everything you’re looking for and somehow still fits into your budget. The one small issue is that it’s labelled “sale pending.” But what does this mean? Many buyers get confused about whether they are in fact too late to spend time making an offer or not. The answer of course, is—it depends.

Why a “sales pending” property may no longer be up for grabs

 A sale that’s truly pending is one in which all contingencies have been removed. This means the buyer has already passed inspections and is ready to seal the deal. The property has been properly appraised, and the buyer’s loan has been approved. The buyer then removes all contingencies and is “locked in” to buying the property in question. The final step is closing, which can take a few days or weeks. Most agents won’t label a home “pending” until the buyer has removed all contingencies and the sale is all but closed.

Why a “sales pending” property may still be up for grabs

 Assuming all goes well, the buyer will move ahead with a “pending sale.” Usually they have a week or two to complete the inspection and a few weeks to get an appraisal and loan, depending on the local market. A property is placed in the pending category as soon as a contract is executed. But, until that deal gets finalized, there’s still a chance the home could eventually be yours. For example, if a house doesn’t pass inspection or the buyer can’t pull together the necessary funds, there may still be room for other offers.

During this in-between period, before a deal goes through or is denied, there is an opportunity for a “backup” offer. If the first offer falls through for any reason, sellers generally prefer to go with the much less laborious process of connecting with a second buyer who has already made a backup offer and is ready to move fast.

Finding out the status of your future home

Having your agent communicate with the listing agent can help you understand the true status of the current deal, while giving the seller some leverage too. A good agent will voice their client’s interests clearly so that if the deal does fail, you’ll be there, ready to make your move! Until you know if you have a shot, however, it’s best to follow the sale closely while continuing to look at other homes.

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