what does under contract mean

With so many people searching for homes online it can be confusing when you see the same home listed on multiple sites but they show a different status.

This is why one of the most common questions people ask is...

...is this home still available?

In real estate, some of the terminology can be used interchangeably which can just add to the confusion. One real estate website may have the home listed as contingent and then another may have it listed as pending.

Leaving home shoppers wondering - what is the difference between pending and contingent?

But first, lets look at when a home is first listed and the status of the home is 'Active'.

What does Active Status mean?

Active status homes

When a homeowner decides to sell their home and they list with a licensed real estate agent, their home will be entered into the local MLS. When this happens, the current status of the house is now ACTIVE. At this point, the local MLS uses IDX (Internet Data Exchange) to syndicate the listing across all the different real estate websites.

Now depending on how the website is set up, the listing will show the listing as ACTIVE or FOR SALE. However, it becomes more confusing once the property goes under contract.

Most local websites will show the correct status. However, some national real estate websites may have different terms for different statuses because they are pulling data from multiple feeds across different cities and states. Surprisingly, not all MLS boards use the same statuses - and this is why it becomes confusing.

What does Active Under Contract mean?

Just recently adopted here In Louisville in 2016. ACTIVE UNDER CONTRACT is when a property has an enforceable contract, and there are one or more contingencies in place. The contingencies can be anything from; financing, inspections, appraisal, awaiting 3rd Party approval, successful closing of the buyer's current property, etc...

The good news is, when a property is listed as Active Under Contract, you may still have the opportunity to view the home and submit a backup offer.

As the seller, you can decide if you want to have the status changed to PENDING or to AUC when under contract. If a Seller decides to choose active under contract, they are agreeing to allow showings to other interested buyers in hopes to receive a backup offer. If a seller decides they no longer want to show the property while in AUC, the listing must be updated to PENDING.

Can you make an offer on a house that is Active Under Contract?

The real estate market here in Louisville still favors sellers. Homes are being sold within days and some sellers are even receiving multiple offers. If a buyer is unsuccessful in going under contract as the primary buyer, it may be advantageous for them to submit a backup offer on an AUC listing.

Sometimes contracts fall through and this might increase your chances of becoming the primary buyer.

If you decide to write an offer on a home that is active under contract, consult with your real estate agent or a real estate attorney. You may still be able to continue to search for other homes and retract your backup offer if you find another home to submit an offer on.

What does Pending status mean?

Pending status homes

Pending status is somewhat similar to ACTIVE UNDER CONTRACT. The main difference the seller is not interested in entertaining any backup offers and the home is no longer available to show. Sometimes we have people ask about properties they are interested in but unfortunately, the home is already 'pending'. If this happens it is not a bad idea to keep an eye on the property for 3-4 weeks and then follow back up to see how the current contract is going. Every now and again deals fall through and you may have a second chance at the home.

What does Contingent mean?

There can be a discrepancy in listings across so many different real estate sites. There are some national sites that may list a home as ‘contingent’ when the status here in Louisville is actually ACTIVE UNDER CONTRACT. Leaving most people confused and wondering; what does contingent mean? Most transactions will have some sort of contingency. Two common ones would be inspections and financing. However, the most common perception of a property when it is contingent, is that the Buyer has to sell their current home in order to purchase the new home. In the Louisville market, when a home has a ‘contingency contract’, there is usually not a status change or anything mentioned in the public remarks. Typically, there is only a mention in the agent notes that there is a contingency contract in place. It will also specify if there is a 24 or 48 hour first right of refusal.

How long can a house be under contract?

Sometimes you find yourself falling in love with a house that is already under contract. Tracking the home, hoping to see if it falls through and comes back on the market. Typically the average length of a contract is between 30-45 days. However, there are some instances where there will be extensions and even take 60+ days to close.

If you have any questions about a property or the different statuses, please comment below or reach out to us. We would be more than happy to help!

Posted by Nathan Garrett on
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