Why would a house be pending for so long?

What does “sale pending” mean?

The sale pending period is one of three listing phases that your home will go through. The first is the active period, when your home is listed as available for sale in your local MLS. The final status is sold, which means that the deal is complete and the home is now the property of new owners.

Sale pending is the status in between active and sold, which indicates that you’ve accepted an offer and are in the process of selling, but that the sale is not yet completed.

In its own way, the sale pending period is just as stressful as the days spent working and waiting for your home to sell. Not only will you need to be packing, cleaning, and getting the house ready for your buyer, there’s also a lot of waiting and hoping that all of the moving pieces fall into place and your home sale closes on time, if you make it to closing at all.

Real estate agents keep an eye on sales pending properties because there are a number of ways that the deal could fall through and the house could come back on the market. Things that could derail a sale during the sale pending period include:

  • The home inspection
  • The property appraisal
  • Contract negotiations between the buyer and the seller
  • Contingencies that fail to be met or lifted
  • The buyer’s financing with a lender

These are the primary ways a home sale could fall apart, but there are other closing regulations that vary from state to state.

“A lot of the closing process is area specific because there are different regulations in California or Florida, compared to where I am in New York state. Even downstate New York is done differently than upstate New York,” advises Christine Marchesiello, a top real estate agent located in the Albany, NY area.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 pieces of information that every seller needs to know about the sale pending period that’ll apply in almost every state. For further details, you should talk to your agent about your area’s local market customs and norms.

4. You’re not entitled to see the full inspection report

Once assured that all parties are all in, the first step buyers take is hiring a home inspector to find any issues that may exist. The inspection report is usually done right off the bat after you sign the sales contract.

Just don’t expect to get your hands on the full report after the home inspection is completed.

“One thing sellers misunderstand is that they’re not entitled to see it. It’s the buyer’s inspection report,” explains Marchesiello. “However, if the buyer uses the report to ask for a major repair or credit, they are required to submit the relevant pages of the inspection report. But they still don’t have to give you the entire inspection report.”

In addition, demanding a copy of the report can actually backfire as the buyer can use it to say your home is defective.


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All real estate transactions carry a certain amount of risk, but the more you know the more you can prepare. Take the steps necessary to help eliminate the pending sale pitfalls that are within a seller’s control. Your offer will be more likely to go through, giving you a real reason to pop open the champagne and celebrate.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Opendoor always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

What’s the deal with contingencies? 

If a home is listed as being a contingent sale, that doesn’t mean the home is sold or an offer has been made. Instead, it refers to the sale of the home being dependent on a contingency working out. Both sellers and buyers can come to the table with contingencies that are required for the sale to go through (such as the buyer selling their current home first). 

You may see a home listed as being both a contingent sale and under contract. The good news for someone who wants to buy a home that is already under contract is that if there are contingencies in place, there is a better chance the sale won’t go through. 

Can a pending sale fall through?

According to data from Trulia, about 4% of pending home sales fall through – or 1 out of every 25 pending home sales. In which case, the home will usually go back on the market. 

There are a few different reasons this happens:

Financing falls through:

Not surprisingly, financing is an important part of successfully buying a home. Even if a buyer is pre-approved for a loan, something like losing or quitting a job after the pre-approval takes place – or taking on a lot of debt – can change the lender’s mind.

Buyer’s remorse:

Homebuying is an extremely emotional process. Homebuyers may have second thoughts about the home, moving, or the condition of the home itself.

Low appraisal:

Low appraisal issues sometimes happen when bidding wars raise a home price way above market-level prices. Lenders often won’t approve the loan if the appraisal is far lower than expected.

Home inspections reveal issues:

although it’s very rare for a home to have no issues, some issues revealed in a home inspection can be more daunting than the buyer was prepared for or financially equipped to handle. And sometimes if people do have buyer’s remorse, they will use the home inspection as an excuse to legally leave the sale. 

Why Might A Pending Sale Fall Through?

There are many reasons why a pending sale could fall through. One of the most common reasons is that financing issues suddenly come up. For instance, if the buyer’s loan application is denied and they’re unable to secure financing, the sale cannot proceed.

In addition, major issues can come up during the home inspection. If the inspection reveals structural problems with the property, the buyer and seller will need to re-negotiate the home price. If they’re unable to agree on a new price, the sale might fall through.

And finally, the home could be appraised lower than the listing price, meaning the buyer would have to pay an additional sum of money to account for the difference. 

What’s The Difference Between Contingent And Pending Offers?

One of the things you’ll occasionally come across is that a property is listed as contingent. There is a difference between contingent and pending offers in real estate.

A property that’s listed as contingent means that the seller has accepted the offer but is choosing to keep the property listed in case certain conditions aren’t met. For instance, the home inspection or appraisal could cause the sale to fall through.

Whereas if the property is listed as pending, that means those contingencies have already been met, and the buyer is preparing to close on the property. So, you have a better chance of purchasing a property that’s listed as contingent than a pending home sale. 

Pending Sale Vs. Contingent: Whats The Difference?

You might see a home listing that is contingent. This is different than a pending sale in that a contingent home sale can only go through if a specific requirement is met.

For instance, buyers might make an offer on a home that the seller accepts. But the offer will also state that the buyers won’t close the purchase of the home until they sell their own home. Such offers are known as contingent offers. The home sale is contingent upon the buyers selling their own home.

You can put an offer in on a contingent home. If the home sale falls through, the sellers will then consider your offer. Not all contingent offers fall through, of course, but your odds of getting your offer in front of sellers are higher with contingent offers than they are with homes that are pending.

Can Real Estate Agents Still Show Pending Homes?

A home with a pending sale is still technically on the market. Because of this, real estate agents can show these homes to possible buyers. Most agents, though, won’t do this because most pending home sales do close. Showing a home that is pending, then, would usually be a waste of agents’ time. Many homeowners also don’t want to show their properties if they have a sale pending.

Although it varies, a pending sale usually takes from a few weeks to 60 days. During this time, buyers will pay for a home inspection, request any needed repairs, secure their financing and check the home’s title.

What Does a Contingent Status Mean?

A home listing with a contingent status means that the seller has an accepted offer, but the closing of the property is contingent on certain terms being met. There are many different types of contingencies and this means each one carries their own terms and time specifications. Let’s look at a few different types of contingencies and what they mean.

1. Inspection Contingencies 

When buyers tour a house that they would like to buy, things often look good at first glance, and so they make an offer. However, a trained professional, such as a home inspector, might find things in the house that need repair or are damaged. This is where the inspection contingency clause comes in.

Inspection contingency clauses protect buyers by allowing them to get a professional report from a home inspector. Depending on the terms of the clause, if the inspector finds something wrong with say, the foundation of the house, then the buyer has an option to back out of the contract without any financial repercussions.

Contingencies also might state that the seller has the option to fix any problems that the inspection finds, and by doing so, keeping the contract valid.

2. Financing Contingencies

A financing contingency is another useful clause that protects the buyer in case they are unable to secure financing. But why would a buyer put an offer on a house if they aren’t able to procure a loan?

Well, usually buyers get preapproved for a house loan of a certain amount before they start looking at houses. This gives them an idea of how much money they really have to work with.

However, just because a bank preapproved you for a house loan, you still need to get approved for a certain loan program and go through what they call an underwriting process. Usually, this is where most people run into issues when trying to secure a loan for a house loan.

3. Appraisal Contingencies

This is a contingency that goes hand in hand with the financing contingency. Basically, a house needs to be appraised for its fair market value before a bank will write a check for it. This not only protects the bank from making a bad investment, but it also protects the buyer from purchasing a house for more than what the market says it’s worth.

Because most financial institutes are only allowed to hand out home loans for up to the fair market value, an appraisal contingency allows the buyer to back out.

4. Title Contingencies

In real estate, titles of homes are not always free and clear. Buyers will hire title companies to do thorough research of public records to make sure there are no liens or other issues with the title.

Besides liens, other complications with titles include illegal deeds, errors in public records, unknown heirs, forgeries, etc. If any of these issues are found during the title search, buyers are able to back out.

5. Home Sale Contingencies

In a lot of cases, home buyers will make an offer on a home while in the process of selling their own house. A home sale contingency allows a buyer a certain amount of time to sell their house before they close on an offer.

Though this is great for buyers, sellers oftentimes do not appreciate this clause as it allows buyers to back out too easily.

Final Thoughts on How Long for a house to go from Pending to Sold

How long does it take for a house to go from pending to sold? Not long, usually about three or four days. While it usually takes 30 – 60 days for the entire under contract period to progress once the due diligence period is over the closing is usually imminent. 

Deals can fall through, however, even at the last moment. Most often, this happens because of a last-minute change of finances, like losing a job. It can also happen because of a major disagreement because of an issue that arises during the walk through. 


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