Good to know   /   Buyer Advice   /   Is This Home Still for Sale or Not? Real Estate Jargon Explained

Is This Home Still for Sale or Not? Real Estate Jargon Explained

As you browse listings online, you may be confused as to whether a certain home is actually available to buy or not. The listing is still being marketed, but it may have terms like active kick out, contingent, pending or option, so what do these terms mean? 

What they mean to homebuyers is that while the seller may have a valid contract on the home, it’s possible that the sale won’t make it to closing. You could have a shot at getting the home if something falls through or takes too long with the buyer - if you’re willing to take the chance with a backup contract. 

Active Kick Out

Active means the listing is being marketed. Active kick out means that a buyer has made the offer with a proviso, known as a contingency. But the seller may have a lot to lose by taking the home off the market, so they agree to the buyer’s contingency, but reserve the right to “kick out” the buyer if an acceptable backup offer comes along. 

A backup offer means the second buyer knows they may not get the home, but they want it enough to wait and see if the first buyer is going to perform. If the seller accepts the backup offer, they’re required to give the first buyer a notice to perform, which is typically 48 to 72 hours. The buyer then has the choice of removing or meeting the contingency and moving forward with the transaction, or backing out of the contract. 


Nearly all offers to buy have one or more contingencies. Since the buyer is purchasing the home with a number of unknowns, they may write into the contract that the purchase is contingent upon a home favorable mortgage, inspection or appraisal. Buyers also ask for contingencies such as time to sell their home first before they buy the seller’s home. 

Most sellers won’t consider a buyer’s offer without a pre-approval from the buyer’s lender, but it’s not a done deal until the loan has final approval by the lender. The home must meet the lender’s appraisal for value and if it falls short, the buyer has to put more money down or back out. Or, the lender could find a new problem in the buyer’s credit report, or the buyer could suffer a financial setback. The buyer has the right to have the home professionally inspected. If the home inspection contingency reveals latent problems such as termite damage, plumbing, electrical or foundation issues, or a roof that needs major repairs or replacement, the buyer can back out of the contract.


A home that’s listed as pending can still be shown to backup buyers, but it’s less likely to become available. A pending label simply means that the buyer’s contingencies have been met and that the seller and their listing agent believe the home sale will close escrow successfully.  


An option allows the buyer to purchase the right to the seller’s property when it may be a longer time than usual to closing. The difference between an option and an active kick out is that an option means the property can’t be sold to anyone else, nor can the price be raised for an agreed-upon term. 

An option is most often used to buy a new home from a builder, where there may be months until the home is built and ready for occupancy. When the home is ready to close, the option payment is used as part of the down payment. The seller is protected because the option payment is forfeited if the buyer doesn’t perform. Options are also used to buy raw land for development until the buyer can get funding and city and county approval for a proposed project. 

To learn more, talk with your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional about your chances as a buyer with a backup offer.