Understanding the Meaning of “Contingent” and “Pending” in Real Estate

In the world of real estate, there are several terms that can be confusing for both buyers and sellers. One such term is “contingent.” Often used in conjunction with the term “pending,” “contingent” refers to a specific stage in the home buying or selling process.

While “pending” and “contingent” are related, they do have distinct differences. In this article, we will explore what “contingent” means in real estate and how it differs from “pending.”

Definition of Contingent

When a property is listed as “contingent,” it means that the seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, but certain conditions must be met for the sale to proceed. These conditions, known as contingencies, can vary depending on the specifics of the transaction and the parties involved. Common contingencies include:

  • Financing contingency: This contingency allows the buyer a specified period to secure financing for the purchase. If the buyer is unable to obtain a loan within the agreed-upon timeframe, the contract may be terminated.
  • Inspection contingency: This contingency gives the buyer the opportunity to have a professional inspection of the property. If significant issues are discovered during the inspection, the buyer may negotiate repairs or request a reduction in the purchase price.
  • Appraisal contingency: This contingency ensures that the property is appraised at or above the agreed-upon purchase price. If the appraisal comes in lower, the buyer may have the option to renegotiate or terminate the contract.

These are just a few examples of contingencies that may be included in a real estate transaction. The specific contingencies will be outlined in the purchase agreement between the buyer and seller.

Differences between Contingent and Pending

While “contingent” and “pending” are often used interchangeably, they do have distinct meanings in real estate.

A property is classified as “contingent” when an offer has been accepted by the seller but certain conditions must be met before the sale can be finalized. The property is still technically available for other buyers to submit backup offers.

On the other hand, when a property is labeled as “pending,” it means that all contingencies have been satisfied, and the sale is in the final stages of completion. At this point, the property is considered under contract, and it is unlikely that additional offers will be accepted.

In summary, “contingent” indicates that there are still conditions to be met, while “pending” signifies that the sale is nearing its conclusion.

Implications for Buyers and Sellers

For investors or buyers, a contingent property may still be worth considering. If the contingencies are reasonable and align with the buyer’s needs, they can have their agent submit a backup offer in case the initial offer falls through. This allows the buyer to be in a strong position should the property become available again.

For sellers, accepting a contingent offer can be a calculated risk. While it may delay the closing process, it also provides an opportunity to secure a solid buyer. Sellers should carefully review the contingencies outlined in the offer and consider the likelihood of their successful completion.


In the realm of real estate, the term “contingent” refers to a property that has an accepted offer but still requires certain conditions to be met before the sale can be finalized. It is important to understand the distinction between “contingent” and “pending,” as they represent different stages in the home buying or selling process. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you can navigate the real estate market with confidence and make informed decisions.