Real Estate July 2, 2024


I should write my own real estate dictionary. There are so many words thrown around that so many people – buyers… sellers… (even Realtors!) misuse. The Hunter Dictionary of Real Estate would likely start off with how properties are categorized in the Multi-List.
Think of a timeline. You have the word “active” on the far left, then the “sold” designation would be on the far right. “Active” is the beginning, & “sold” is the end-game. We’ll talk about both of those & every stage in between.

“Active” is a buyer’s favorite word & probably the least favorite word of sellers. This is the first step in the home-selling process. When a property is “active,” it is available to be shown, & the seller is accepting offers. The home is being actively marketed with open houses, social media campaigns, the works.
The next step is a house being “contingent.” You’re not likely to see this word on some of the public house-hunting sites. Zillow, for example, uses the status of “pending.” “Pending” isn’t an official term, but one that’s widely used on public sites.
The general idea for “pending” or “contingent” is that an offer has been received & accepted. However, on the Multi-List, the “contingent” designation means that even though an offer has been accepted, the property can still be shown to other interested buyers. If the buyer likes it, they can still submit an offer but it would be second in line to the offer that’s already been accepted. If something falls through with the first offer, the back-up offer can then slip right in.
I personally keep a house in the “contingent” status until their inspections, appraisal & mortgage commitment have been satisfied. Once we have successfully maneuvered through all of those contingencies, we’re just waiting for the paperwork to be done for closing. At that point, I change the property from “contingent” & mark it as “under contract.”
Moving another step along our timeline here, if a property is “under contract” then we’re pretty darn confident that we’ll be hitting the closing table within the next week or two. At this point, we’re just waiting on the paperwork.
Some Realtors don’t put their properties as “contingent” at all & instead jump right to the “under contract” status. Either way, an offer has been accepted, & a buyer likely has to move on from this house & look for another that is 100% available.
Sometimes, I see that a property has gone back into the “active” status after it’s been “under contract.” Nine times out of ten, this means that something fell through with the buyer’s financing. For example, sometimes:
• A credit check reveals that the buyer has slipped below the acceptable credit score for their loan
• The buyer may have lost their job
• (As happened twice in my career) a buyer purchases a new vehicle right before closing which throws their debt-to-income ratios off & disqualifies them for a mortgage.
Coming to the end of our timeline, the “sold” status is the end of the road. It’s the seller’s (& Realtor’s) favorite word. The property is no longer in the possession of the seller & has been successfully & legally transferred into the names of the buyers. The deal is done! Mission accomplished! In the bag! It’s a wrap! Finito!
In an ideal transaction, a property goes from “active” to “contingent” to “under contract” to “sold” all within a couple of months. There are, however, a few other designations that we Realtors use that aren’t published on the public sites: Withdrawn & Expired.
When a home is “withdrawn” it means that it’s not currently being marketed, & the sellers are not allowing showings at the moment. This could be due to the fact that they’ve decided to take a temporary pause or have even decided not to sell at all.
I recently had a seller who had an accident & didn’t want her home shown while she was recovering & unable to easily get out of her house. Some sellers decide to pull their home off the market over the holidays while their kids are home on break, & it’s too difficult to accommodate showings.
A seller can change their mind about selling their property for any number of reasons. I’ve had divorcing couples originally decide to sell their house & split the proceeds only to later come to an agreement about one of the parties keeping the property. There are some sellers that get frustrated with the market or lack of interest on the home. Instead of selling, decide to remodel or put on an addition to make it better fit their long-term needs.
The “withdrawn” & “expired” statuses are similar because they both mean that the home is not actively being marketed. The difference, however, comes down to if they are still under contract with a Realtor.
If a home is “expired,” the contract between the seller & broker is no longer valid. The seller is free to market that property with another Realtor or even to try to sell it themselves without ties to the previous agent.
Now that you have a little better understanding of what these terms mean, you have the advantage of knowing just how close a prospective home is to being officially “sold.”
If you’re a serious buyer, a dedicated Realtor will be getting as many active homes in front of your eyes as possible before they go contingent & slip out of your reach.
I’m Always Here & Happy to Help!

Katina Hunter
Team Lead for the Katina Hunter Team with Coldwell Banker