At the dawn of the fall selling season (marked by the end of Labor Day), we’re about to see a rash of new listings come to market after the traditional summer slowdown. In anticipation of that, I thought I’d get you up to speed on what a listing status means since it varies slightly by region and what website you may be using for your searches. The big home search sites, like Zillow, Redfin and Realtor.com, all have their own language for property status. Whether a given property is “active,” “pending,” “pending under contract,” “contingent,” or “coming soon,” you may wonder what those statuses technically mean. In this guide, I’m sharing the industry standard for property status, plus what all of these popular websites are actually talking about.
Industry Standard Terminology for Property Status
When a real estate agent lists a property, there are five statuses available:
- Coming soon. This status indicates that a home is being prepped for market or has a tenant who will be moving out. During this timeframe, there may or may not be showings available, and whether you can make an offer or not depends on the property. Reno no longer has a coming soon status, the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe still do, and then there are private exclusives which you won’t find on a search on your own (and is a blog post unto itself).
- Active. This status means the house is actively for sale. Be on alert for open houses or feel free to set appointments to view. If you like the property, you’re also free to submit an offer but they may or may not have an offer date, property specific.
- Active under contract (also Act.Cont AKA active contingent). This status indicates an offer has been submitted and accepted. It’s the first phase of the transaction and involves running through various contingencies. Does the offer have an inspection as a way out? Are there any requests for repair after inspections (which can mean new negotiations and a possible offer fail point). Is there an appraisal and/or a loan attached? Have the buyers procured insurance (a new contingency in Bay Area contracts)? Once these contingencies have been removed, you can move to the next phase of the transaction: pending status. Pro tip: if you’re really interested in a property that’s listed as active under contract, it’s worth having your agent reach out. You may want to submit a back up offer if things aren’t going smoothly (that’s a strategy discussion, case specific, to have with your agent). It’s also worth noting a far higher percentage of contracts fail during this stage of escrow in Reno vs the Lake and Bay Area mainly because in Reno it is not common practice to have pre-inspections done and disclosures signed off prior to making an offer.
- Pending. This status means all contingencies have been removed. The final paperwork is being filed, the funds are being lined up and you’re essentially waiting to the end of the transaction when it goes on ‘record’ with the city that there is a new owner. It is very rare for a property to fail at this stage, although it certainly does happen.
- Closed. This status means the deal is officially done. The title has changed and the new owner has the keys.
Home Search Site Property Status Terms
Now, here’s how Zillow, Redfin and Realtor.com assign property status. Zillow listings can be sorted into coming soon and active categories. To check out the status, navigate to the For Sale tab. They’ll have active listings, accepting back up offers, as well as pending and under contract. They don’t generally show closed sales in favor of focusing on current inventory unless you look for it and Coming Soon typically in most parts of the US does not propagate here.
Redfin is similar to Zillow, with options to filter for properties that are coming soon, active, under contract or pending. At Realtor.com, property status includes active, contingent, pending, and recently sold.
Insider Info: The Secret Statuses
You may occasionally see any of the following statuses, which can present unique opportunities:
- Coming Soon Exclusive. When a company has an exclusive listing, they are only pushing out to their own agents. There are a number of reasons you’ll find this status, including privacy, test marketing a high list price, maybe it’s not show ready, or it’s tenant occupied. These you can only find through your agent and it’s a party to a few anti-trust lawsuits at the moment, so this status may be going away.
- Expired. When a property listing has expired, this means it didn’t sell usually because of price or condition (or both or as in many cases the listing agent fell asleep at the wheel and didn’t get the listing agreement extended or forgot to update it in the multiple listing service).
- Hold. This status indicates that a brokerage still holds the listing agreement, but something has prompted a temporary pause. It could be the result of some issue that came up during an inspection they decide to fix, or it could be the property didn’t show well with a tenant in place and they plan to wait until they move out to go back to open market.
- Withdrawn. Similar to expired, this status means a property has been withdraw by the listing agent and sellers. Maybe it had ‘seller’ pricing, meaning it was an aspirational price the sellers could not attain and they did not want to reduce it to market price. Maybe they didn’t love their agent and decided to go a new route.
- Canceled. This listing is identical to withdrawn, it’s just a different way to state it’s been taken off the market by that listing agent.
As the fall selling season begins after the Labor Day lull, a wave of new real estate listings is set to come to market. Whether you’re browsing Compass, Zillow, Redfin, or Realtor.com, each platform employs its own set of terms, from the preliminary “coming soon” stage to the ultimate “closed” status. Remember the hidden nuances too – the exclusivity of “coming soon exclusive,” the lessons from “expired,” the temporary pauses of “hold,” and the decisions behind “withdrawn” and “canceled.” That will help you confidently navigate the dynamic real estate landscape, making informed decisions and seizing opportunities that match your goals. And remember an excellent agent is worth their weight in gold, and a bad agent is worse than having no agent at all. Need help finding a great agent? You know where to find me.