You are planning a move to Salt Lake City, Utah for a new job. You have been working with CityHome Collective, a local real estate brokerage, hoping to find your dream home before you actually have to pack up and hit the road. Unfortunately, every home that catches your eye seems to be pending.

What does that mean, exactly? Are pending homes officially off the market, or can you still get your hands on one? Your CityHome Collective agent can answer those questions for you. But given that you want the answers now, you will find them in the remainder of this post. Just know that a pending sale does not necessarily mean the end of your dreams.

An Offer Has Been Accepted

A home listed as pending is one that has received at least one offer from interested buyers. It may have multiple offers. Either way, the seller has accepted an offer and initiated a sales contract. The deal is pending only because there are loose ends that need to be tied up.

Those loose ends include:

  • Financing – Even with mortgage pre-approval, buyers still have to go through the formal application and underwriting processes. Things could go wrong and scuttle the deal.
  • Property Appraisal – Before a bank will give final approval on a loan, the property has to be appraised. An appraisal tells the bank that the home is worth more than the amount being loaned. A poor appraisal could mean no financing.
  • Home Inspection – Hand-in-hand with the appraisal is the home inspection. If it turns up anything the buyer or lender is concerned about, the contract could be canceled.
  • Title Search – A title search will reveal if the home has any liens against it. If there are lien issues, a buyer may choose to back out of the contract.

As you can see, a pending sale is not a guaranteed sale. There are far too many things that have to be settled before a sale is closed.

Your Options as a Buyer

You may see a home listed online as pending. An offer has been made and accepted. Now what do you do? Well, you have several options. The first is to simply move on. You can accept the likelihood that everything will work out and you will be left searching for another house. If that option does not sit well with you, there are other choices:

  • Make An Offer – Sellers are known to continue showing their homes and accepting offers while a current deal is pending. They often do so in hopes of getting a better offer from someone else. You can always submit an offer and take your chances.
  • Keep Watch – You can forgo making an immediate offer and keep an eye on the property. Between you and your real estate agent, you should be prepared to jump if you discover the pending deal has fallen through.
  • Investigate Further – If you are willing to be a little more aggressive, you can always investigate further by contacting the listing agent. He or she might be willing to fill you in on parts of the existing contract that are not set in stone.

Pending status on a home sale indicates that a deal is in the works. But no sale is final until documents are signed at closing. Between now and then, anything can happen. As a buyer, you do not have to accept a pending sale as the final outcome. If you are interested in a pending home, you and your agents can still push for it.