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Under Contract vs. Sale Pending: Explaining the Difference

Posted by Hanna Selman on June 7, 2021
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under contract vs. sale pending

When it comes to real estate, there is more to understand than you may first realize. In fact, the terms alone can be confusing! Let’s take under contract vs. sale pending as an example and walk through the difference together.

Real Estate 101

Real estate is a process. First, there’s deciding to sell or buy. Then there’s the search for the right home. There’s working with lenders and banks. There are inspections and appraisals. There are negotiations throughout as well.

So, let’s take a closer look at the process and explain where under contract vs. sale pending fall.

Under Contract

To simplify, under contract means a buyer made an offer, which the seller accepted. However, there is a “but.” In this case, the sale is not finalized until certain conditions are met. These typically must be done within a certain amount of time, or the deal is off.

Under contract falls within the early stages. If you stumble upon your dream home and it reads “under contract,” don’t lose hope! There are many factors in play under contract. At this point, the house is still on the market.

Sale Pending

Let’s say the dream home is listed as “sale pending” instead. In a nutshell, the deal is further along. Sale pending means all the contingencies have been met. Nevertheless, the sale is not final. Typically, this is the stage during which financing is being secured and inspections are in the works.

While it may be rare, the sale can fall through at this point as well. For instance, the potential buyer’s previous home may not sell, causing a shift in financing. The home inspection could also bring unforeseen issues to light.

What’s the difference?

In terms of under contract vs. sale pending, it boils down to contingencies. Under contract equals terms and conditions still need to be met. Sale pending is closer to being finalized because specific conditions were resolved.


The main takeaway is until the sign says, “SOLD,” anything can happen. Hopeful buyers can make an offer on a home listed under contract and sale pending.

Asking yourself, “What now?” Find a local real estate expert! Ryan Roberts is ready to be your guide in the Auburn, Opelika or Lake Martin communities. Years of experience and a commitment to client satisfaction make Ryan a valuable asset! Keep reading our blogs to learn more about Ryan, our local market and the area in general.