Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Statuses Explained

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362

The Meaning of Various Listing Status Definitions Explained

Working as real estate agents, many often forget that consumers don't know the ins and outs of our business. Many real estate terms come as second nature to us that buyers and sellers don't understand.

The perfect example is MLS listing statuses. There is a whole slew of them that can be confusing for the layman. Of course, most people understand what a home for sale is or a house that has sold.

There are, however, many more terms that can be somewhat confusing, especially when they have slightly different meanings from state to state.

Let's take a look at some of the most common listing statuses and each of their meanings. By the time you're doing reading, you'll be more of an expert when looking at homes online.

We will be covering the following listing status definitions in-depth:

  • Contingent
  • Pending
  • Withdrawn
  • Canceled
  • Expired
  • Right of First Refusal
  • Kick-Out Clause

What Does Contingent Mean?

One of the more common questions from both buyers and sellers is what contingent means in real estate. Contingent status in real estate means an offer has been accepted between a buyer and seller, but there are contingencies in the agreed-upon offer.

Common contingencies in a real estate contract include having a home inspection and getting mortgage financing. These clauses are found in a significant amount of transactions. Occasionally they are waived in order to make an offer more attractive to a seller.

When real estate markets favor sellers, the odds of contracts being waived go up. Homebuyers will remove contingencies in order to make their offer more attractive.

If the market favors buyers, you're more apt to see additional contingencies. Sometimes buyers will even ask for a home sale contingency. A home sale contingency would mean the buyer would not need to proceed unless their current home sells.

Many offers that are marked as contingent come back on the market for various reasons, so all hope is not lost if you lose out on a contingent home.

What Does Pending Mean?

The meaning of pending in real estate is similar to contingent but might not be precisely the same. With a pending sale, a contract has been executed between the buyer and seller.

Most of the time, when a home has been marked pending, there are no contingencies in place, but not always. Real Estate agents are typically free to mark a home pending or contingent.

In some markets, a real estate agent may choose to mark a home pending rather than contingent, even if there are open contingencies. You may be wondering why.

The reason is simple. When a home is marked contingent, it is technically still active in the MLS. In some locations, it's called active contingent. With an active contingent listing, the market time will continue to grow like the home is still for sale.

So, if the sale falls through a few weeks later, the public could think it's been on the market for a long time which does not benefit a home seller.

On the other hand, when a house is marked pending, the days of the market stop. So, if the home comes back on the market, it will not look like the home has been sitting unsold.

What Does Withdrawn Mean?

When you see a listing withdrawn from the market, it means the seller has decided not to sell for any number of reasons. The contract between the seller and the listing agency is still in effect. It's just no longer available for sale in the multiple listing service.

Withdrawn status does not allow another real estate agent to contact the seller. Real Estate agents inquiring about the property would need to speak with the listing real estate agency.

What Does Cancelled Mean?

The canceled listing status means that the seller or the real estate company has terminated the contract to sell the property. A cancellation could occur for a few reasons, but it is often either a decision not to sell or a real estate company being fired.

When a listing is canceled, another real estate company can approach the seller and solicit their business. Many real estate agents will make it a regular part of their business to contact "canceled listings" in hopes of relisting the property.

What Does Expired Mean?

An "expired" listing means that the real estate contract between the seller and real estate company has ended. The property has not sold, and the listing has fallen out of the multiple listing service.

For example, if a real estate agent has a 6-month contract and fails to sell after 180 days, it will fall out of the MLS and be labeled "expired."

Real Estate agents are allowed to contact a seller when the listing status is expired. Many agents also make it a practice of calling sellers when their listing goes into expired status.

For this reason, real estate agents have to know how to find the owner of a particular property.

What Does Right of First Refusal Mean?

The first right of refusal is when someone has the first dibs on a property. If there is a right of first refusal in place on a property for sale before a buyer can purchase it, they must first give the option to purchase to the person with the right of refusal.

Only after this buyer chooses not to exercise their right can they move forward with the purchase. Sometimes a right of first refusal is in place before a home is listed for sale, and at other times one is granted to a person during the time for sale.

Typically, the first right of refusal will have a time limit set on it. Usually, the time period for exercising your rights is somewhere between 24 to 72 hours.

What Does Kick Out Clause Mean?

Another listing status you may see is what's referred to as a "kick-out clause." With a kick-out clause, the homeowner can continue showing the property and potentially accepting another offer from a different buyer.

Typically, a buyer presents a kick-out clause that needs to sell their home before moving forward with a purchase. The buyer and seller negotiate and agree upon terms, but the kick-out clause allows the seller to find a non-contingent offer.

In essence, the seller gets to kick out the first buyer if they get a better offer from another buyer.

Final Thoughts on Listing Status Definitions

As you can see, there are quite a few listing statuses that buyers and sellers should be familiar with. Real Estate agents should always cover these statuses with their clients so if they come up; they'll be well informed.

Doing so would be especially vital for home sellers trying to decide between changing their home to either contingent or pending after accepting an offer.

Hopefully, you now have a much better understanding of the meaning of listing status definitions online.

Posted by

Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comments (2)

Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Bill - those are very helpful explanations that will help the client understand the terms.

Nov 05, 2021 04:04 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Bill - people certainly have many questions about the various multiple listing statuses they see.  Of course, some are local and not used in different areas.  Even within an area, interpretation(intentional or unintentional) can play a role.  It's always best for those looking to make a move to have local real estate professional representation to help advise them.   

Nov 05, 2021 04:11 AM