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What Does Contingent Mean In Real Estate?

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what does contingent mean in real estate?

A contingency on a home means that an offer has been accepted by the seller from a buyer, but before the sale can be finalized there are certain criteria or contingencies that must be met.

These contingencies or clauses are typically put in a real estate purchase contract by an agent on behalf of their client.

Contingencies could range from but not limited to appraisals, inspection, warranties, financing, kick-out, and as-is.

The bottom line is you can put almost any contingency you want in a contract, but it’s important to understand what they are and how they affect you as the buyer/seller.

The devil of the contingency is in the details or in the small print which most people don’t pay attention to.

Note: Too many clauses in a real estate contract can be seen as a turn off for sellers.

How Often Do Contingent Offers Fall Through?

Contingent offers are found in almost all purchase contracts. According to a survey done by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers on homes fall through around 7%. Among the top reasons are, issues related to financing(27%), inspection(20%), buyers losing their jobs(21%), and contingencies in the contract(9%)

Contingent vs Pending Real Estate

Contingent: Just to recap cap, contingent means an offer has been accepted by a seller but the transaction has not been finalized. It’s an active listing because all requirements for the transaction to close haven’t been met. If the process continues, the transaction will advance to a pending state.

Pending: When a property has been deemed pending, an offer has been accepted and all contingencies have been satisfied. Here is a list of the 3 common types of pending sales.

Pending- short sale

A short sale is a home being sold for less than what is owed to the lender. Keep in mind that all short sales must be approved by the lender in order to close the transaction.

Pending -taking backups

This happens when issues arise after an accepted offer. The seller entertains other offers just in case the first offer falls through due to contingencies or other factors.

Pending- More Than 4 Months

An accepted offer can be pending more than 4 months due to the agent not updating the listing, longer closing times, or stalled negotiations. There can be many reasons why this status might happen.

Can You Put an Offer on a House That Is Contingent?

Yes, a seller can accept backup offers from potential buyers to help secure a sale in case the first offer under contract falls through. If it’s a property with multiple offers, buyers are usually encouraged to make an offer so they can be in position if something goes wrong.

How to Beat a Contingent Offer

Unfortunately, you cannot beat a contingent offer legally. A contract signed between a seller and buyer leaves both parties contractually obligated or otherwise stated in the contract. This is one of the reasons why having contingencies in a contract are very important.


Having contingencies in a purchasing contract is important. They will help to protect the buyer and sellers interests. Its also equally important to know what they are.

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