What Does Contingent Mean on Zillow? And How Does It Affect Your Home Buying Journey?

What does contingent mean on Zillow?

Contingent refers to a situation where the sale of a home is under contract, but it includes one or more contingencies.

A contingency is a specific condition that must be met for the sale to proceed. Zillow uses the “contingent” status to indicate that a property has an accepted offer but is still subject to these conditions.

Example of Conditions that can be included in a contingent offer on Zillow

1. Home Inspection:

   – The buyer may request a home inspection to assess the property’s condition and identify any potential issues.

   – If the inspection reveals significant problems, the buyer may have the option to renegotiate the terms of the offer or even withdraw from the contract.

2. Buyer’s Financing:

   – The sale may be contingent on the buyer securing financing from a lender.

   – This condition ensures that the buyer can obtain the necessary funds to complete the purchase.

3. Sale of Current Home:

   – In some cases, the buyer may need to sell their existing property before they can proceed with the purchase.

   – This contingency safeguards the buyer from the obligation to purchase a new home if they cannot sell their current one.

4. Appraisal:

   – The buyer’s lender may require an appraisal to determine the property’s value.

   – If the appraisal comes in lower than the agreed-upon purchase price, the buyer may have the option to renegotiate or withdraw from the contract.

5. Title Search and Insurance:

   – The sale may be contingent on a satisfactory title search, and the buyer obtaining title insurance to protect against any potential ownership disputes or claims.

6. Seller Finding Suitable Housing:

   – In some cases, the seller may include a contingency that allows them to back out of the deal if they are unable to find a suitable replacement property.

7. Sale of Other Property:

   – This condition is similar to the sale of the buyer’s current home contingency but applies to other properties the buyer may own.

8. Review of HOA Documents:

   – If the property is part of a homeowners association (HOA), the buyer may include a contingency to review the HOA’s rules, regulations, and financial documents before proceeding with the purchase.

9. Review of Seller Disclosures:

   – The buyer may include a contingency to review any disclosures provided by the seller, such as information about the property’s history, repairs, or known issues.

10. Review of the Neighborhood:

    – The buyer may include a contingency to spend time in the neighborhood, visit local amenities, and assess the area’s suitability before finalizing the purchase.

Different Types of Contingent Listings on Zillow

Active Contingent:

  • The seller has accepted an offer.
  • The sale depends on specific conditions (e.g., buyer’s financing, current home sale).
  • The seller can accept backup offers, but they will be considered only if the initial offer fails.


  • The seller accepted an offer.
  • All contingencies have been satisfied.
  • The property has a contract in place, and the sale is expected to proceed.
  • The seller no longer accepts additional offers.

Pending Taking Backups:

  • The seller accepted an offer.
  • All contingencies have been satisfied.
  • Seller still accepts backup offers.
  • If the initial offer falls through, the property goes to the first backup offer that meets all contingencies.

Buyers, staying informed about different listing types is essential during your home search. Your real estate agent is your invaluable guide on this journey, ensuring you’re up to date with listing statuses, which can make a significant difference.

Consider this scenario: You encounter an “active contingent” listing. This indicates a deal in progress but not yet finalized. There’s an opening here. You might think about submitting a backup offer, a Plan B, in case the current deal falls through.

However, when you come across a “pending” listing, it’s a different story. The opportunity to make an offer has passed. The property is no longer available. Knowing these nuances is like having a secret code in a competitive real estate market. It equips you to make informed choices and seize chances as they emerge. So, stay closely connected with your real estate agent, and together, you’ll navigate the dynamic world of property listings.

Tips for buying a contingent home on Zillow

Act Quickly When Contingencies Are Met:

  • A contingent offer enables the buyer to back out if specific conditions aren’t met.
  • Listings under contract with a buyer might mean they need to sell another property before closing.
  • Prepare to move swiftly if the contingencies are met and the property becomes available again.

Have a Backup Plan:

  • Contingent sales can be unpredictable.
  • It’s essential to have a backup plan if the sale falls through.
  • Consider looking for alternative properties or exploring other financing options.

Work with a Specialized Real Estate Agent:

  • Collaborate with a real estate agent specializing in contingent sales.
  • They can guide you through the process and offer valuable insights and advice.
  • They may have access to listings not available to the general public.

Understand Listing Terminology:

  • Know the difference between “contingent,” “pending,” and “under contract” listings.
  • A contingent listing often means the buyer needs to sell another property before closing.
  • Typically, pending or under contract listings indicate that a buyer and seller have agreed to terms with no additional conditions to meet.

Understanding these tips can help you navigate the Zillow marketplace more effectively and identify suitable properties for your needs.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Contingent Listings on Zillow


  1. Multiple Conditions: Contingencies empower buyers by allowing them to include various conditions in their offer, giving them flexibility in negotiations.
  2. Active Contingent Listings: These listings may still accept backup offers, giving interested buyers a chance to submit offers in case the current deal falls through or conditions aren’t met.
  3. Pending Taking Backups Listings: Similar to active contingent listings, they provide an opportunity for buyers to submit backup offers, increasing their chances of securing the property.
  4. Pending Continue to Show Listings: These listings allow for potential backup offers and better terms for the buyer, enhancing their negotiation position.
  5. Competitive Market Navigation: Buyers can use these listing types strategically to navigate a competitive real estate market and improve their odds of acquiring a property.


  1. Limited Options with “Pending” Listings: “Pending” listings indicate the property is no longer available for offers, potentially limiting a buyer’s choices.
  2. Inconsistent Label Use: The use of “contingent” and “pending” labels can vary by location, leading to confusion among buyers, sellers, and real estate agents.
  3. Uncertainty with Backup Offers: Buyers may feel uncertain about submitting backup offers as the status of the current offer and the likelihood of it falling through can be unclear.
  4. Availability Variations: The availability of “active contingent” and “pending taking backups” listings can vary depending on the market and seller preferences.

To make informed decisions, buyers should closely collaborate with their real estate agent to understand the implications of these listing types in their specific context.


In conclusion, on Zillow, “contingent” signifies that a property is under contract, subject to specific conditions set by the buyer. These conditions can encompass various aspects of the sale, from inspections to financing and more. Understanding the nuances between “active contingent” and “pending” listings is crucial for prospective buyers. While contingent listings offer opportunities for backup offers, they also come with uncertainties. Collaborating with a specialized real estate agent and staying informed about the listing status can help buyers navigate the dynamic world of contingent properties on Zillow effectively.

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