What do Contingent Under Contract and Pending Mean?

When looking at homes for sale on the internet, it is helpful to understand the meaning of Contingent, Under Contract, and Pending.

The internet is a magical place. It’s full of amazing potential homes for sale, but it can also be a bit confusing. When looking at homes for sale online on ZillowRealtor.com, Trulia, or your local Multi-Listing Service (MLS), it’s helpful to know what certain terms mean in the real estate world. That way you can make sure you’re actually looking at the right house! Here are three terms that you might see on an MLS listing:  Contingent, Under Contract (sometime Under Contract/Taking Back-Up Offers), and Pending.


“Contingent and Under Contract are terms that are often used interchangeably. Once you’ve made an offer and the seller has accepted, there’s a legally binding contract in place.  This contract usually has “contingencies” in it, however, meaning that the sale of the property at the agreed upon price is “contingent” upon the satisfactory outcome of certain things.  Most commonly, contracts are “contingent upon” inspections and financing.  In other words, if the buyer hires and inspector who finds a number of different issues with the home and the seller is not willing to either fix those issues or lower the price, then the buyer can walk away.  Or, if the home doesn’t appraise at the agreed upon price causing an issue with the mortgage, that could cause the deal to fall through.  Cash deals or deals with an “appraisal gap guarantee” in them give sellers more peace of mind and therefore make the buyers who use them more likely to get the property “under contract.”

There can be other contingencies in addition to inspections and financing, such as making an offer “contingent upon the sale of an existing home” or any number of other contingencies.  Keep in mind that the more contingencies there are in an offer to purchase (or buy/sell agreement), the less attractive that offer is to a seller, typically.

Under Contract

Same as Contingent, above.


Sometimes this is used interchangeably with Contingent or Under Contract, but usually “Pending” would mean that the contingencies have been satisfied, and the buyer and seller are simply waiting for the deal to close at the Title Company.  In other words, the inspection period has passed and the buyer was satisfied with that inspection and they have qualified for the mortgage and have received a “clear to close” from the lender.


We hope this article has helped you better understand the meaning of contingent, under contract and pending when looking at homes for sale on the internet. For more information about real estate terminology and how to use it when searching for your dream home, please visit our website!

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