CONTINGENT IN REAL ESTATE: Difference Between Pending and Contingent in Real Estate 

contingent in real estate
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Contingent in real estate means that a property has been accepted by a buyer but not finalized by the buyer until some criteria stated by the seller are met. Contingent in real estate is a common type of real estate deal that has its meaning and definition in opposition to the pending form. In this article, we will be looking into the details of a contingent in real estate as well as placing pending versus the contingent term in real estate side by side in order to determine the significant difference between them.

Contingent in Real Estate Overview 

“Contingent” in any sense means, depending or conditional on certain circumstances in real estate. When you list a house as contingent, it typically means that you have made and accepted an offer, but you have to meet some additional criteria before the deal is complete.

For example, if a seller offers a specific amount and you, as the buyer, say it’s excellent, you’ve automatically entered into a contingent real estate contract. In this situation, the house’s sale is contingent so, if an inspection finds no faults that are specified in the contract, it will typically be a deal. Let’s imagine we make a conditional offer based on the house inspection revealing a roof life of 15 years.

If the inspection determines that the roof has just 7 years left to survive, then any repair you want to make can typically be possible. This means that you can place the home on active contingency status and then the seller may decide to repair the roof. They can also decide to change the price, or the potential purchasers may choose to cancel the contract. Note that they are free to do this because the contingency was in place.

I have mentioned that you must meet specific conditions before the transaction can proceed with a contingent offer. If it doesn’t, the contract is nullified, and the seller is free to pursue a backup offer. People frequently use contingencies in real estate transactions to shield buyers against faulty house listings or any form of anticipatory concern.

Definition of Contingent in Real Estate

In this part of the post, I want to make you understand contingent in real estate by explaining its definition. There is a lot of terminology in the real estate business that the average home buyer and even some new real estate agents may not be able to define and understand and, “Contingent” is one of these terms. This is a term that both homeowners and real estate agents should be familiar with. The term “contingent” or “contingency” basically indicates that the seller incorporates some conditions into the contract. However, there are some requirements you need to meet in order for the contract to be legally binding.

The definition of a contingent in real estate lies in how well you are able to understand it. In most situations, the real estate transactions have not been completed and there is still the possibility that they may fail. This is why you need to make the necessary effort to address conditions and pending statuses with your agent, whether you’re making an offer or trying to sell your house.

Pratical Definition of Contingent in a Real Estate Transaction

When house purchasers include a phrase that specifies the contract is not binding until they perform a satisfactory home inspection, this is an ideal example of a contract contingency. This contract automatically becomes legally binding after the inspection is complete. As a home buyer or a real estate agent, you will encounter various distinct types of dependent status. The first is a “contingent show.” This signifies that the property is under contract, but the still owner still exhibits it and will welcome backup offers if the present offer falls through.

The “contingent no-show” status is the second form of contingent status. The simple definition of a contingent in real estate means that the seller has a contract on the property that they feel will not fall through, and they no longer wish to display it to other potential purchasers. It simply signifies that the property is no longer for sale. “Contingent with kick-out” is the final of the contingent clauses and is a popular term.

It implies that if there is a current offer on the property and then a better offer comes up, the seller might accept the greater offer. To put it another way, the better offer will “kick out” the existing one. This provision aids the seller in obtaining the best possible offer. If the contract says “contingent with no kick-out,” it simply implies that they don’t consider no other bids. If the existing contract fails, they will mark the property as active and they will start evaluating fresh offers as soon as possible. This is why I formally said that you need to understand the situation of contingent itself in real estate, in order to give its definition.

Pending Versus Contingent in Real Estate 

Firstly, let’s typically look at what the term “pending” basically means. In real estate, a home listing marked as “pending” means it is already under contract with another buyer. This means that someone already has an agreement signed with the seller. Typically, in real estate, these two terms are always sided by side to emphasize their differences. This is because people always use them in place of each other due to their striking similarities. Our concern in this part of the post is to simply explain pending versus contingent in real estate.

Technically, when a real estate property is on is pending, it means that all the terms and contract work are ready. However, a contingent one, entails that the seller has accepted an offer. This means that both the seller and buyer have decided to keep the listing active in case the potential buyer fails to fulfill specific requirements.

Understanding Pending Versus Contingent in Real Estate

Many purchasers add a variety of stipulations in their purchase bids. Home inspection contingencies, finance contingencies, and appraisal contingencies are just a few examples. The seller and their agent are optimistic that the deal has cleared all significant barriers and is also on its closing verge. You know that searching for homes in recent times, especially online and on your own can be very confusing, tricky, and frustrating. This is why I recommend the knowledge of contingent versus pending in real estate to help ease your stress and give you clarity in your search.

There are pending versus contingent listings and residences that aren’t for sale right now. But, the big question is, how do I know my way around these terms and the right way to use them correctly? Other questions surrounding contingent versus pending terms include: what are you going to do with all of them? What if you come upon a pending or contingent property listing that you truly like? Is there anything that can be done now? What options do you have if you truly desire this home?

If you’re contemplating any of these questions right now, I recommend you go through the content of this post for detailed answers. You can also contact a good real estate agent to assist you. This is because these agents don’t only give you the best advice; they also help you secure the best property thereby helping you save money.

The Difference Between Pending and Contingent in Real Estate 

Before diving into the difference between pending and contingent in real estate, I want to give a little more detail about the terms independently of what I have explained above. The difference between pending and contingent in real estate is basically in their meaning, which is the perfect reason why you need to understand the terms separately.

When an owner marks a property as contingent, it simply means there is a degree of acceptance of the offer on the part of the seller. This is because of the specific requirements that you failed to satisfy, so the contingent transactions will still be on current listings. Contingent transactions will only progress to pending status if all goes smoothly. Then, for pending property, when you categorize property as pending, it means that the seller accepts an offer because the buyer meets all the conditions and the status of a property will remain pending until you complete all legal action.

The Major Difference Between Contingent and Pending Status in Real Estate

The most striking difference between pending and contingent in real estate is, when the house is pending, it implies that it has already been sold to another buyer and that all of the terms and contract work have been completed. Meanwhile, the term “contingent” means that the closing is still subject to the fulfillment of one or more conditions.

You can categorize a property as “pending” after you put everything in place. These things that you need to put in place include the seller accepting the offer and the home buyer fulfilling all contract criteria. When this is done, then the property is no longer on the list as active for other purchasers but it will remain in pending sale status until the buyer and seller, resolve all legal issues in the contract. Some of the other differences I failed to mention above between contingent versus pending in real estate include;

Pending status

The pending status features that differ from contingent include;

  • The home hasn’t yet passed inspection.
  • when the buyer hasn’t yet secured financing.
  • The deal hinges upon the buyer first selling their existing home.

Contingent Status

Some of the features of a contingent that differ from pending include;

  • The seller has accepted the offer, but will still look at other offers.
  • When the seller has accepted the offer but is still showing the home due to some loophole.
  • The seller has accepted the offer, but the sale hasn’t yet closed after four months or more.

Understanding the distinctions between contingent and pending offers will assist you in identifying homes that you may still be able to purchase and also if you find one you have an interest in bidding on, this post will advise you on the best course of action.

What are examples of contingencies?

A contingency is the potential possibility of a bad event, such as a pandemic, economic downturn, natural disaster, fraud, or terrorist attack.

What are the 3 contingencies in real estate?

TL;DR: Contingencies are terms that call for the end of the deal if certain conditions aren’t met. Appraisals, loans, home sales, and inspection contingencies are the four main contingencies in real estate.

What does a 10% contingency mean?

A construction contingency is the sum of money set aside to cover unforeseen or extra costs that may arise during the construction project. Your construction contingency should typically be funded with 5–10% of the total construction expenditure.

What is the purpose of contingencies?

Any contingency plan’s goal is to enable a company to resume regular operations as soon as feasible after an unexpected catastrophe.

Can a seller accept another offer while contingent?

While a deal with a first buyer is being negotiated, can the seller accept a different real estate offer? Absolutely. After the customer signed the contract and received the deposit, we’ve witnessed instances where the seller accepted another offer. A seller has that option prior to signing.

Can a seller back out of a contingent offer?

Simply said, if the conditions specified in the property purchase agreement are not satisfied, the seller has the right to terminate the sale at any time. Due to the fact that these contracts are legally enforceable, it can be challenging and something that most individuals would prefer to avoid.


You can see that there is a difference between the definition and meaning of contingent versus pending in real estate. However, we have talked about the two terms independently before placing them side by side so that you can be able to comprehend and understand either of them any time anywhere while they may pop up in your real estate transactions.


How Long Is a Contingency Period on a House?

The length of a contingency period varies depending on the type of contingency. A mortgage or financing contingency period typically lasts anywhere between 30 and 60 days. An inspection contingency period might last for as little as 10 days

Is it worth it to look at a house that is contingent?

Most accepted offers do eventually become sales, but you never know. It is still worth looking at a home listing that is contingent — especially if the listing agent is still actively showing it. That can indicate an expectation that the accepted offer might fall through.

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