Somewhat recently, the Teton MLS changed their display rules so that listings which are under contract (now labeled “Pending”, “Pending Contingent”, or “Pending Continue to Show”) still show up in consumer searches such as our websites and realtor.com. In years past, when an offer was accepted on a listing and the agent marked it as “pending” (meaning pending sale) in the local MLS, the listing was removed from advertising platforms so it was no longer visible to the public. Now that consumers are still able to see this information, I get all sorts of questions as to what the contingency is, or what it means. Most often, it is a potential buyer hoping that they can make an offer because there is a contingency and still have an opportunity to purchase the property. Unless there is a form of kick out clause, this usually is not the case. Further, most buyers depending on the language they are used to hearing and their local areas, believe that a contingency is something such as a buyer who must sell a home in another location before proceeding with the sale, but this usually isn’t the case.
Before going further, what is a contingency? Google’s definition is “a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.”
While I believe the above description is most accurate, I don’t believe it really fits with respect to the real estate definition of a contingency. Further, it is defined differently in different areas of the country, as mentioned above. Here in Teton Valley, it simply means any sort of event that must occur or must be satisfied by the buyer before the earnest money becomes non-refundable. For example, a buyer’s inspection is usually referred to as a contract contingency. Financing, a satisfactory appraisal – any number of things that must occur before the earnest money becomes non-refundable. Note that even if a contingency is not met, the buyer can still close a transaction if the buyer chooses to do so, effectively releasing the contingencies upon closing.
So, now that we have the local lingo down with respect to what a contingency is, it’s easier to remember not to get too excited about a listing because it is labeled as contingent. However, the way it is labeled can help indicate how solid the contract is. Currently, the Teton MLS has three forms of labeling a pending transaction. They are “Pending”, “Pending Contingent”, and “Pending Continue to Show”. In a perfect sense, simply stating “Pending” means there are no contingencies and it is very likely to close. “Pending Contingent” we covered above, and could simply mean the buyer has the right to do an inspection. “Pending Continue to Show”, on the other hand, might be something to ask your agent about. In order to label a listing as Pending Continue to Show, the buyer and seller are supposed to agree that the seller is authorized to do so. Also, there is usually a logical reason for displaying the listing like this, such as an unusual contingency like a buyer who much sell a property before closing on the subject property. In some cases these types of contracts are accompanied with a kick out clause in the event of seller receives a backup offer.
Now that you are armed with this new information, good luck on your search!