What “Pending Sale” Means to Homebuyers

Image of a house for sale, pending sale sign

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So a home you love and can see your family in for years to come is listed as a pending sale. It is common among homebuyers to assume that “pending sale” means the property is no longer available, and the big red “pending sale” sign in front of the home can really back up this assumption.


Good news – this doesn’t mean you should back off. There’s still hope!


Yes, the pending label does mean the seller has an offer, but it does not mean the property is sold. There will still be a few opportunities to nab that dream home.


A buyer generally makes an offer “subject to” a home inspection, appraisal, or loan approval. Sure the buyer wants to close on the home, but they also want to make sure the property is in good condition, as well as to secure the proper financing. Until these terms are met, the buyer has the right to exit the contract.


Talk to the agent

Calling the listing agent when you’re interested in a home labeled “pending sale” is not a waste of time, and being the first to let their interest be heard is a very good idea that could pay off with you signing a contract for a new home. Speaking with the agent can also leave you with more insights on the pending sale, like; if the initial bid was warmly received, how many other offers have been put in, and if there are any parts of the deal that aren’t firm. This is all info that can come in handy when you put in your own bid.


Sellers typically want to hold out for the best bid (naturally), and who’s to say that bid isn’t yours? Real estate agents will keep showing the property to interested parties until the last minute, because they – just as the owner – are holding out for the best bid.


Now let’s talk about negotiating

If the house is completely perfect, why not try to beat the current buyer’s deal? If you’re financially comfortable, you can always offermore than the existing bid. If you’d rather not take the outbidding route, why not try to present terms to the seller that are more convenient than the current terms? For example, you could offer to pay the closing costs yourself, or convey flexible moving dates.


Once your offer is out there, be available! This seems like a no-brainer, but it can be widely overlooked. If that initial pending sale falls through, you need to be ready for a call or an email, and checking in with the listing agent, or your own agent periodically would be wise. In fact, it would be beneficial to make yourself seem pushy rather than passive. Even if it isn’t the way you’re used to behaving, this is your future home we’re talking about, so don’t be afraid to be aggressive!


To wrap up: A pending sale just means the homeowner has had an official offer, and does not mean a home is sold. There is still time to get your own bid in — you’ll just have to work a little harder for it.

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