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How to Know If a Sale Is Pending on a House

by Bridget Kelly, studioD

One of the most exciting parts of buying a house is the actual house hunting aspect. Not only does all the drudgery of fixing your credit and obtaining financing culminate here but the home of your dreams is finally within reach. It can be challenging to determine if it’s still available, however, by viewing it from the outside with only a For Sale sign as guidance. A pending sale is one that has received a purchase offer and the sale is pending until all the conditions of the contract have been met.

Ask your real estate agent to check the Multiple Listing Service database to determine if the house has a pending status. Agents are required by the regional MLS to update the status of their listings within a certain time of it changing. If it isn't listed as pending, and you still think that it is, ask your agent to call the listing agent to ascertain the true status.

Call the number on the sign in front of the house if you aren’t working with a real estate agent. Ask for the agent whose name is on the sign and inquire as to the status of the house. If the house is available, hire your own real estate agent to submit your offer and protect your interests.

Ask to speak with the floor agent if the listing agent isn’t available. Real estate offices typically have an agent on duty in the office during normal business hours and this agent is known as the floor agent. Unlicensed office staff is prohibited from divulging details about listings.

Knock on the door of the house, if all else fails, and ask the homeowners if they have an offer pending on the house. Pending offers are contingent upon any number of variables, including the buyer obtaining a loan, the successful outcome of inspections and the sale of the prospective buyer's current home. Contingencies also have time limits and, since they are negotiable, the expiration of the time limit might be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.The seller may be willing to tell you how strong the offer is and if he thinks the sale will be successful -- something the listing agent can't divulge.

Ask your real estate agent to submit a backup offer if you truly want the house. With a backup offer, If the first buyer doesn't go through with the purchase, your offer automatically becomes primary.


  • It costs a homebuyer nothing to use the services of a buyer’s agent. Although the listing agent may try to recruit you to use her as your agent, hire your own, to protect your interests.

About the Author

Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.

Photo Credits

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