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What Does Sale Pending Mean in Real Estate?

While searching online you see a perfect home in your price range, only it’s marked as “sale pending”. Are you too late, or do you still have a shot? The short answer: If a home you love is pending sale, don’t give up hope. You could still be the golden buyer.

What does “pending” mean in real estate?

A pending sale status means the seller has accepted an offer from a hopeful buyer, but the deal hasn’t closed yet. (This is different from a contingent sale.) A property is placed in pending status the minute a contract is executed. But there’s still a chance the home can be up for grabs again—say, if the home inspection doesn’t check out or the buyer can’t pull together the financing. Pending does not mean sold.

Many sellers will want to hold out for the best bid—and you could be the buyer with the best bid.

Here are four ways you can improve your odds on a successfully bidding on a listing that’s pending sale.

1. Make your interest on a sale pending home known

Many listing agents will continue to show the property to potential buyers up until the very last minute, in hopes of obtaining an even more compelling offer.

Make sure your agent knows how in love you are with the home. You’ll want to be first in line in case any issues crop up with the pending home sale (like failed financing, inspections, or other unmet contingencies that can snag a real estate transaction).

2. Find out all you can about the home

Have your buyer’s agent call the listing agent. The agent might have some insight on parts of the contract that aren’t firm. Try to find out how many other offers there are on the home and whether there are any potential concerns about the initial bid.

Research the neighborhood, schools, and other homes for sale in the area. Become an expert on the property, and you just might be the seller’s ideal backup plan.

3. Try to beat the other buyer’s deal through negotiation

This doesn’t necessarily mean putting in a higher bid—although that can certainly help. You may also make yourself an attractive buyer by presenting convenient terms to the seller. Maybe you want to agree to waive a mortgage contingency, pay closing costs, or offer flexible moving dates.

4. Be aggressive with a capital A

Err on the side of being pushy and tenacious, even if that isn’t your normal style. That way if the initial sale does fall through, yours will be the obvious backup offer. Be available for phone calls, check your email, and follow up with your agent often.

So the next time you see that pending sale status icon next to your dream listing, don’t despair. Just be prepared to work a little bit harder for your ideal home.


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