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On the Edge: What is Pending Contingent?

What is Pending Contingent? Pending contingent refers to a real estate status confirming the acceptance of an offer, but the deal is contingent upon certain conditions being met before it can proceed to a finalized sale. When navigating the complex waters of real estate transactions, terms like “pending” and “contingent” often confuse potential buyers and sellers. One such problem is understanding what is pending contingent and how it impacts the buying or selling process. By the end of this read, you’ll have a clearer picture of how this condition can influence your real estate endeavors.

Real estate investors Steve Daria and Joleigh have navigated numerous transactions where a pending contingent status was crucial. They emphasize that understanding and anticipating these contingencies can greatly influence the result of a transaction. By closely examining and addressing these conditions early on, Steve and Joleigh have successfully closed on properties even in complex situations.

What is Pending Contingent?

What is pending contingent, exactly? At its core, when a property is marked as “pending contingent” in real estate listings, it signals that the seller has accepted a buyer’s offer

Still, the completion of the sale is contingent upon certain conditions (or contingencies) being met. 

These conditions vary widely but typically include inspections, appraisals, selling the buyer’s home, and securing financing.

what is pending contingent

Common Contingencies Explained

As we venture into real estate, we come across a term that can significantly impact your buying or selling experience—’pending contingent’ statuses. 

Inspection Contingencies

Inspection contingencies allow the buyer to have professionals inspect the property for structural damage, pests, or other potential issues. 

For example, a buyer might discover a termite infestation that needs addressing before purchasing.

Appraisal Contingencies

These ensure the property is worth at least the money the buyer agrees to pay; this is particularly crucial for obtaining a mortgage

If a home appraises for less than the purchase price, the buyer can renegotiate or withdraw from the deal.

Sale and Settlement Contingencies

It is often used when the buyer can purchase the home and hinges on selling their current residence. 

For instance, a buyer may need to sell their house to fund the new purchase entirely.

Financing Contingencies

These provide a safety net for buyers to back out of the deal without consequences if they cannot secure financing. 

If a buyer’s mortgage application is denied, they can back out of the contract without losing their earnest money.

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Strategies for Buyers

Navigating what is pending contingent in real estate transactions can be challenging, especially for prospective buyers eager to secure their dream home. 

Here are some strategies for buyers:

Understand the Contingencies

First and foremost, it’s essential to recognize that the specific contingencies attached to a pending contingent status can vary widely depending on the terms negotiated between the buyer and seller.  

These contingencies safeguard both parties, ensuring that the transaction proceeds smoothly and mitigating risks associated with unforeseen issues.

Fulfill Obligations Promptly

For buyers, navigating a pending contingent status requires careful attention to the details indicated in the purchase agreement. 

They must fulfill their obligations within the specified timelines to avoid jeopardizing the transaction. 

This often involves coordinating with lenders, scheduling inspections, and addressing concerns during due diligence.

Be Prepared for Uncertainty

One of the primary challenges for buyers in a pending contingent situation is the uncertainty it introduces into the buying process. 

While the seller has accepted their offer, the deal still needs to be finalized, leaving room for potential setbacks or the possibility of the transaction falling through if the contingencies are not satisfied. 

This uncertainty can create anxiety and frustration for buyers, particularly if they have invested time and resources.

Stay Competitive

Buyers must be ready to act swiftly and decisively if they encounter competing offers or if the seller receives backup offers while the property is pending contingent status. 

In such situations, buyers may need to reconsider their negotiation strategies or adjust their offer to remain competitive.

Key Strategies for Buyers

  • Stay in Touch with the Listing Agent: Express your interest in the property, as you might be next in line if the current deal falls through.
  • Have Your Financing in Order: Being fully pre-approved for a mortgage can offer a better backup offer.
  • Be Ready to Act: If the contingencies fall through and the property returns to the market, quickly submitting a solid offer can be critical.

Tips for Sellers

For sellers, a “pending contingent” status signifies progress toward a potential sale, but it also underscores that the deal isn’t finalized. 

Here are some tips for sellers:

Manage Expectations

One of the primary concerns for sellers during this phase is the risk of the deal falling through if the buyer fails to satisfy the contingencies within the agreed-upon timeframe. 

Whether securing financing, completing home inspections, or resolving issues identified during the appraisal process, any hiccup could derail the transaction and force the property back onto the market.

Accept Backup Offers

The pending contingent status may limit the seller’s ability to entertain other offers or market the property to potential buyers. 

While the property is technically under contract, it remains vulnerable until all contingencies are waived or satisfied, leaving sellers in a holding pattern as they await confirmation of the buyer’s commitment.

what is a pending contingent

Maintain Open Communication

Sellers must manage their expectations while remaining open to potential backup offers or alternative scenarios. 

While they may be eager to move forward with the sale, they must also be prepared for delays or the need to relist the property if the initial deal falls through.

Stay Prepared

Furthermore, sellers may experience heightened stress and anxiety during the pending contingent phase as they grapple with the uncertainty of whether the sale will proceed as planned. 

This uncertainty can be particularly challenging if they rely on the sale proceeds to facilitate their relocation or financial plans.

Key Tips for Sellers

  • Set Clear Contingency Timelines: Defining strict timelines for contingencies can help hold the buyer accountable and move the process.
  • Consider Backup Offers: Accepting backup offers can provide safety nets if the original deal crumbles.
  • Communicate Openly: Open communication with the buyer can help resolve any contingencies.


“Pending contingent” in real estate isn’t a phrase to be wary of but rather one to understand deeply. It opens various strategic avenues for buyers, sellers, and investors alike. Understanding what is pending contingent, allows you to make better decisions that align with your real estate goals.

Whether you’re just starting or are a seasoned player in the real estate field, understanding the nuances of what is pending contingent can significantly impact your approach and outcomes in the market. Remember, every phrase, every status, and every contingency in real estate is an opportunity to learn and grow in your real estate ventures.

**NOTICE:  Please note that the content presented in this post is intended solely for informational and educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal or financial advice or relied upon as a replacement for consultation with a qualified attorney or CPA. For specific guidance on legal or financial matters, readers are encouraged to seek professional assistance from an attorney, CPA, or other appropriate professional regarding the subject matter.

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