Active Contingent

What does active contingent mean?

Updated August 26, 2022

A home is listed as “active contingent” when a seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, but there are contingencies that still need to be met before the sale of the property can close. 

Why would a home be listed as active contingent? 

Home sales contracts typically include several contingencies, which are conditions that must be met before the contract can be finalized. A home might be listed as “active contingent”—that is, under contract but awaiting these conditions to be met—for the following reasons: 

  • Inspection contingency: The buyer is waiting for the property under contract to be inspected by a professional. If the inspector finds major issues with the home, the buyer can back out of the deal, request the seller make repairs, or ask for an additional inspection. 
  • Appraisal contingency: The property must undergo an appraisal before the sale is closed. If the home is appraised for less than its sales price, the buyer can back out of the deal or request a second appraisal. They could also negotiate with the seller to lower the sales price to the home’s appraised value. 
  • Mortgage contingency: The buyer and seller are waiting for the buyer’s financing to come through. In real estate contracts, mortgage contingency clauses give buyers who are using financing a certain amount of time to obtain approval for their mortgage. If for some reason the financing does not come through, the buyer can walk away from the deal without losing their deposit.  

A home is listed as “active contingent” when a seller has accepted an offer from a buyer, but some contingencies still need to be met before the sale. Photo: Pixabay

Active contingent vs. pending

When a home is listed as “pending,” this means all contingencies have been met (or there were no contingencies to be met) and the sale should be finalized soon. It’s not very likely the deal will fall through at this point, although in some cases the listing may specify that the seller is still accepting back-up offers, often because some problem has come up in the process of closing

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Is it possible to buy a home listed as active contingent? 

Chances are that the sale of a home listed as active contingent will go through, but there is always the possibility that one of the contingencies is not met, and the buyer backs out of the deal. 

With the guidance of an experienced real estate agent, it may be possible to make an offer on a home listed as active contingent. There are different kinds of active contingent listings, and some indicate opportunities for buyers to make an offer that outshines the one that has already been made, such as: 

  • Short sale contingent: This means that the mortgage balance on a home exceeds its value, and the bank must forgive the seller part of their debt in order for a sale to go through to a new buyer. This also means that a number of contingencies must be met, and although a home with this listing has an offer on it, the seller is seeking back-up offers. 
  • Contingent (continue to show): This type of contingent listing indicates that there are multiple contingencies that must be met in order for the deal to be finalized, and the seller is still open to offers that are “less contingent”—that is, bids from buyers willing to waive some of the contingencies. 

The process of making an offer on a home listed as active contingent is much the same as one that is not already under contract, though your odds of success are lower. However, you may be able to position yourself as a promising back-up option should the current deal fall through if a contingency is not met.