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What is a Contingent House Listing?

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What is a Contingent House Listing?
7 min. read

Image: Doubletree Studio / Shutterstock.com

When searching for the ideal home, expect to encounter a few issues along the way, such as homes listed as contingent. But, what does contingent mean and how does it affect your purchase?

A home listed as contingent means the seller has accepted an offer. However, before the sale can go to closing, certain contingencies must be met. These clauses are defined in the sales contract and often have to do with home inspections, mortgage approvals and appraisals. Essentially, contingent listings still have contingencies to be fulfilled in order for the sale to go through, so the seller may still be open to other offers.

Therefore, if you find a property that you really want to purchase but has been marked as “contingent,” it could be well worth your time to have your real estate agent check into where things are in the transaction. It’s certainly possible that the home could come back on the market and, by getting in touch, you might be able to jump to the front of the line.

How is Contingent Different from Pending?

Pending listings are those in which the contingencies have been met and the legal documents just need to be finalized for the sale to close. Consequently, these aren’t active listings that you can make an offer on, but they will continue to appear in searches until the paperwork has been processed.

Contingent Statuses

Homes for sale may be subject to different contingent statuses, which may also be referred to differently, according to the individual multiple listing service (MLS). Nonetheless, whether you’re buying or selling a home, it’s essential to have an intimate understanding of contingencies. Below are some of the most common types of statuses you might encounter with a contingent listing.

Kick-Out Clause

Contingencies listed as kick out mean that the buyer has until a certain date to complete contingencies. Up until this time, the home can continue to be shown to other potential buyers and offers can still be accepted.

The most common type of kick-out clause is when the potential buyer has a home to sell, as well. In this situation, they may or may not need to sell their home prior to moving forward with the purchase of another home.

No Kick-Out Clause

This status is used when the seller has accepted an offer with contingencies that don’t have to be completed by a certain date. However, even if the seller receives a higher offer, they cannot accept it.

It’s important to note here that, no matter whether a home is marked as contingent or pending, a new buyer cannot come along and purchase the home without the first buyer signing a release from the contract. In other words, even if you make a better offer, the seller cannot kick the first buyer to the curb — at least not legally.

Continue to Show

If the home is marked as “contingent continue to show,” then an offer has been accepted with multiple contingencies. As the buyer works to meet these contingencies, other potential purchasers can view the property and make offers — but the offers will be put into what is called “backup status.” A backup offer is not uncommon in real estate sales. If the first sale falls through, the backup offer will then be in position to move forward with the purchase.

No Showings

As the name suggests, this contingency means that the home won’t be shown to other potential buyers. Specifically, an offer has been accepted with contingencies, but other buyers can’t make offers. Then, once the contingencies have been met, the listing will move to pending. In this case, even though contingencies are still pending, the seller has decided that they will forego any more showings.

Short Sale

Short sales occur when the seller will accept a lower amount than is remaining on their home loan. This contingency shows that an offer has been accepted and the home is no longer for sale, but it doesn’t mean that the sale has been approved by the lender.

Notably, short sales don’t have the best completion percentage. In fact, many homes that are under contract as a short sale end up coming back on the market.

Probate

If a home has a probate status, it is being sold through probate and the lawyer involved in the sale will receive part of the proceeds. This can happen when legal fees can’t be paid upfront or when there is a dispute regarding who should receive the proceeds of the sale.

Probate contingencies are far less common. Plus, due to uncertainty regarding the timeframe, many attorneys advise not putting a home on the market until probate has cleared.

Is it Possible to Make an Offer on a Contingent Home?

The answer to this question depends on the type of contingent status involved. However, even if it appears that you can make an offer on a contingent house, the situation could be more complicated than it initially appears to be.

Furthermore, even if you make a better offer than the seller already had, you could still miss out. Or, if the initial buyer fails to meet the contingent requirement(s), another buyer could come along with an even better offer. Therefore, it’s often a good idea to plan to have a solid backup offer if you really like the property.

Common Contingencies Found in Real Estate Contracts

These are the most likely contingencies found in a purchase and sale agreement:

  • Home inspection contingency: The home inspection allows the buyer to do a thorough check of the property’s condition. Then, if the home inspector finds structural, mechanical or other safety defects, most real estate contracts allow the buyer to withdraw from the sale and get their deposit back. As such, it’s essential for both buyers and sellers to understand how a home inspection works.
  • Mortgage contingency: Unless you’re paying cash for a home, it’s expected that you’ll have a financing contingency. The mortgage clause in a real estate contract states the total amount of the loan you’re trying to obtain and the date by when you must secure financing. To that end, there are a variety of hurdles and checkpoints that a lender must clear in order for a buyer to secure the loan, including confirming employment, verifying income, checking credit scores, and checking into any cash deposits involved in the purchase.
  • Home appraisal contingency: Another contingency you’ll see in real estate contracts is that the house must appraise for at least the purchase price. Buyers add this contingency to ensure that they’re not overpaying for a home. Unless a buyer is paying cash, home appraisals are an integral part of most sales.
  • Home sale contingency: When real estate markets favor buyers, it’s far more common to see a home sale contingency. Conversely, in hot seller’s markets, home sale contingencies become far less common.

 
If you want to buy a home that already has contingencies, there may be more to it than you initially imagined. While you may still be able to make an offer on a house listed with contingencies, be aware that it does bring with it more risks than a more straightforward purchase. Therefore, it’s better to view homes that you like as soon as possible to avoid this situation. However, if you already have your heart set on a contingent property, now you’ll know as much as possible about the situation and whether an offer is realistic.
  


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