What Does it Mean When a Home is “Pending”?

As you are out searching for your new home, you will come across properties in different stages of the selling process. Here is the difference between an active and a pending property.


ACTIVE: The home is still available for viewing. Call your realtor to go see it.


PENDING: When a buyer has submitted an offer to purchase a home, negotiations take place and all parties agree on the terms. They then each sign the offer and it becomes a contract. Once this happens, the house becomes “pending.” Those buyers and that seller are contractually obligated at that point to fulfill the terms of the contract/agreement. The seller cannot negotiate or accept another buyer’s offer at this point.

If the buyer is unable to purchase the home for reason, the seller may then decide to put the house back to Active status and entertain offers again.


I’m often asked about pending properties: “Well, what if we submit an offer that is better and higher than the other buyers offer, can we get the house?”

Great question, but the answer is no.

Once the buyer and seller have executed a contract, they are legally obligated to do their best to fulfill the terms. The seller isn’t allowed at that point to entertain and accept any other offers.

If you are interested in a home that is pending, you can sometimes submit what is called a “backup offer.” It is the same as submitting a normal offer, but it would ONLY be entertained and negotiated IF the other buyer is unable to buy and the house is considered Active. Until that point, it is just saved “on the shelf.”

Backup offers are great and encouraged, but I would encourage you not to put all your eggs in one basket. Keep searching for your home and if that one becomes available, GREAT! If not, you haven’t lost any time in finding your right home.


Bottom Line: A pending property may not be completely unavailable. Take your chances and submit a backup offer, but don’t just hold your breath. Things change often and quickly in the real estate market. Continue to search and if you get a shot at that pending property then good luck!