How to Know If a Sale Is Pending on a House?

Pending sale status doesn't necessarily mean the house is definitely off the market yet.

Pending sale status doesn't necessarily mean the house is definitely off the market yet.

Couples might spend weeks or more looking for their perfect house. When you finally find the one you want, it can be tough to learn another buyer has beat you to the punch with an accepted offer. Maybe you’re even checking out your neighbor’s home while it sells so you can figure out how to sell yours. “Pending” status means that the seller has received an offer but that there still are contingencies that remain to be addressed before the sale is final. It’s important to know whether a sale is pending on a house because this will tell you whether you should pursue the property.

Drive past the house, if possible, and check the sign in the front yard. Look for a “sale pending” rider attached to the sign. You might also see “under contract” or “contract pending.” These riders all mean that the seller has received an offer that’s pending on the house.

Call the agent or broker representing you as a buyer and give him the address of the house. The agent or broker can look up the house on the multiple listing service for your area to see whether the house has an active or pending status. Your agent or broker could also call the listing agent or broker to inquire about the house – agents often extend professional courtesy to each other, providing this information upon request.

Find contact information for the agent or broker representing the seller on the sign in the front yard of the house or on the website where you found the house. Call the agent or broker, provide the address of the house and inquire about the sales status. Even if you find out that the house has a sale pending, you may still be able to see it and even place an offer yourself. Your offer would become the secondary offer. If the primary offer falls through, your offer would move up into primary position.

Check Internet real estate listing services such as, a regional MLS consumer website or the Homes Database website (if you live in the MRIS region that serves the Northern Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia region). Enter the address of the property or the MLS number (if you have it) within the search tool of the website. The property should come up as a result of your search, and you can look to see whether it has an active or pending sales status. This information may not reflect the most recent updates on the sale, however, such as when a pending property returns to the market when a sale falls through.


  • A real estate contract can fall apart in many ways – loan approval problems and home inspection issues are common in this business. For this reason, just because a house may say “pending contract,” it’s not a done deal. Watching the sale status of a house may help you get your foot in the door if the primary offer falls through.
  • If you see a house with a pending offer and a “kick-out” clause noted, this means that the seller has accepted a buyer’s offer with contingencies, but that the seller will continue to market the house. If another buyer comes along, the seller will give the first buyers a specific period of time to remove their contingencies or the seller will “kick out” the first offer and accept the second offer. If you see a “no kick-out” clause, this means that the seller isn’t continuing to market the house while the first buyer satisfies contingencies.
  • Even if you don’t have a broker representing you as a buyer, you can walk into any real estate broker’s office and ask for the status on a house by supplying the address to the broker.


  • For personal safety, never knock on a door to ask a seller about the status of a property sale.

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About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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