What Does Pending Sale Mean? The Number One Question That I Get Asked.

Real Estate Agent with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage GREC #208281

With all of the various things that someone could ask me about real estate, the question that I answer several times per week is "What does pending sale mean?"  I guess when I look at it with fresh eyes, it might not seem obvious.  So I thought I'd take the time to explain the terms that are used in the FMLS to indicate the sales status of a property in the Atlanta area.

  1. Active: This means that it is available to be shown and the sellers haven't negotiated a contract with anyone.

  2. Contingency Other:  This means that the sellers have a signed contract with a buyer but they have at least one item that the contract is contingent on, usually financing or inspection.  If those contingencies are met, the home will sell on the date specified.  There's always a chance that something will go wrong with the contingency and in that case it will probably go back to Active status.  Sometimes a seller will allow their home to be shown during this contingency period.  Sometimes they don't want to be hassled by any additional showings at this time.

  3. Contingency with Kick-out:This means that they have a contingent contract(usually contingent on the buyer's home selling) on their home but the seller has retained the right to kick-out the buyer if another offer comes along that is more desirable to them.  Usually the buyer has negotiated a 24 or 48 hour window where they can remove their contingency and still remain in the contract.  Usually the seller is agreeable to having their home shown.  They usually want another buyer to come along who can purchase their home without it being contingent on the sale of another home.  If you are the other buyer, you won't know whether you have a deal until the kick-out period is over.

  4. Pending Sale: This usually means that there is a contract on the house and there are no contingencies outstanding.  The buyer's financing is approved and the inspection has been done and repairs have been negotiated.  All that's left is for the closing attorney to put together all of the closing documents for the buyer and seller.  Usually very few transactions fall apart at this stage.  There might be a few sellers who will still allow their home to be shown and take a back up offer just in case.

  5. Sold: This is just what it says.  The money has changed hands and the buyer is now the owner.  Sometimes it takes a few weeks for the MLS to change the status in the database.  Sometimes it takes a few months for the sales information to be recorded at the county courthouse.

  6. Expired:  This means that the home was listed for a certain length of time(usually 90 days) and has failed to sell.  Many times the home will be re-listed, sometimes with a different agent and sometimes at a lower price. Some times these sellers are open to offers before they put their home on the market again.

  7. Withdrawn:  This means that for some reason, the seller has taken their home off the market before the listing period has expired.  Sometimes people change their minds.  Many times something like a job transfer fails to materialize.

Until the home is sold, no one in their right mind will tell you what the negotiated price is.  If the deal falls apart, the seller doesn't want any other potential buyer to know how low they were willing to go on their previous offer.  That's usually the next question I get after I tell someone that the home is pending sale. Trust me, the listing agent will not tell me the price if I can them.


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About the Author:  Tim Maitski has been a full time Realtor since 1999. He has sold several hundreds of homes in areas around metro Atlanta.  Tim started with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta and is now with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage.


Along with blogging on ActiveRain, he provides one of the best real estate websites in Atlanta at www.HomeAtlanta.com .


His proprietary  "Maitski Line Reports" chart out the absorption rates over the past 14 years in 37 different market areas.  Know when it's a good time to buy or a good time to sell.    


His online Property Tax Calculator allows you to compare property taxes in many counties and cities around the Atlanta area.  He provides the Atlanta MLS Power Search Tool that allows searches of homes using over 35 specific criteria.


Over the years, Tim has optimized his business so that he now can offer a huge 50% commission rebate to his buyers.  The more experience one gets, the easier the job becomes.


Tim also has a "Five Days to Sold" System that uses an intensive marketing blitz to create a showing frenzy that creates urgency and offers.


Tim is always looking to LinkIn with anyone who is interested in building their social network.


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Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
Tim, I think that is great you posted that here for consumers to understand our terms. Sometimes we forget that they are not familiar with them.
Jul 10, 2007 10:04 AM #1

Thank you. I really appreciated this explanation.

I would also like to know what "professionally negotiated" means in a short sale.

Thanks Again.

Feb 16, 2010 12:02 PM #2
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

Nel,  I'm not quite certain about "professionally negotiated". Sometimes there are intermediary companies involved with short sales. Maybe that's what they are referring to.   There are special companies that a listing agent might hire who specialize in knowing how to work through the banks' channels.

Feb 16, 2010 10:15 PM #3
Jeff Higgins

Hi Tim,


       I was wondering how do you know when you've won a bid. I recently bidded on a house that was for short sale. The last 2 times I checked it online it 1st said contingent, then the last time it said sale pending.

                                   Thanks 4 Ur Time,


Oct 09, 2010 12:18 PM #4
Jim Gilbert
Keller Williams Fairfax Gateway - Manassas, VA
The Gold Homes Team

In our area Pending is coded as CONTRACT.

Great explanations.

Too doggone many poorly trained short sale listers will use TEMPOFF, WITHDRAWN, or CNTG/KO for a short sale that is ratified but awaiting the seller's lender(s) approval. This should be CNTG/NO (no kickout), but these agents seem to think "kickout" means the seller's lender doing it!  

Professional means someone who is paid for what they do. It does not mean they are necessarily competent at it.

Jan 08, 2011 02:45 AM #5

I see a house we are interested in listed as active, but when I call the realtor says it is sale pending. However, for weeks now it continues to be listed as active online. The price is very attractive and it is a HUD home held by an out of state law firm. Some part of this seems fishy. How can we verify officially this pending status. It makes me seriously wonder if there isn't some manipulation going on behind the scene?

Should I contact the law firm that holds the property, as I assume it is held by them by some court process involving tax payers?

The home is a bargain, so why isn't it sold? Is a scam of the tax payers possible in this manner?

Jun 18, 2011 02:35 AM #6
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Tim Maitski

Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal
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