Find the answers to your most asked questions about real estate. Click on the big + button to view the answer.
An Active Property
The property is actively for sale and on the market. The sellers may have received offers but have not accepted any yet.
When an offer is accepted the property will become Pending the completed sale.
If the contract falls through, typically the property will go Active again.
Active contingent in real estate is a status of a property listing indicating that it is under contract, but that the sale is contingent on certain conditions being met.
These conditions may include the sale of the buyer’s current home, the receipt of satisfactory inspection reports, or the approval of a loan.
If the conditions are not met, the listing may revert to active status.
Once you have made your offer and the offer is accepted by the seller, the following questions may arise.
What does “under contract” mean?
Under contract means that all parties have agreed on terms, have signed the contract, and the signed contract has been delivered to both buyer and seller. Payment of the escrow deposit is expected but is not a requirement to make a binding contract.
What is escrow?
The escrow money, escrow deposit, or good faith deposit is money that is included with an offer, or as soon as an offer is accepted, to show the seller that you are serious about moving forward with the purchase of the home.
Because you forfeit this deposit if you back out of the purchase for any reason not allowed for in the contract, the larger the escrow deposit, the more seriously your offer is taken.
This is not the same as the down payment.
Do I need an inspection?
We always recommend that you have a home inspection done. In the grand scheme of things, paying a few hundred dollars to have peace of mind that there are no hidden dangers or problems is well worth the money.
The inspections you may need or want will vary depending on the home you are buying and the contract terms. Your agent will thoroughly discuss the inspections with you once your offer is accepted.
How much are inspections?
The cost of the home inspection depends on the size of the house and additional inspections requested, such as swimming pool, septic tank, termite/pets report, insurance, four-point (HVAC, plumbing, roof, and electrical,) wind mitigation, and radon. An average home inspection, without additional inspections, is about $300.
I will give you my recommendations for inspectors, but you can choose your own if you wish.
What if my loan doesn’t get approved?
If you have gone through the pre-approval process and have been forthcoming with all the information requested by your lender, it’s unlikely you will be turned down, but it does happen.
Make sure you do not change jobs, purchase big-ticket items on credit, take out a car or boat loan, or open any other new credit accounts while your mortgage is being processed.
If your loan does fall through, talk with your lender about changing to a different loan type.
When can I start moving?
When you have the keys! When you are financing your purchase, it takes four to six weeks for your loan to be processed. Once the lender gives the all-clear, closing is scheduled. You will sign your loan documents and both parties will sign documents transferring ownership to you.
Unless other arrangements have been agreed upon by both parties, the sellers should have completely vacated the home when they sign the closing papers. You can have your belongings ready to move, and a moving company scheduled before you go to closing.
At closing, you will receive the documentation you need to provide utility companies with proof of your new residence.
Closing costs are the fees that the buyer and seller will owe associated with the home-buying process, such as the real estate brokerage commission and title insurance.
Most are paid by the buyer, but the seller pays for some.
The fees will vary with each transaction. Your lender or title rep will let you know what the fees are and how much you will need at the close of escrow.
The fees required to complete the real estate transaction include points, taxes, title insurance, financing costs, and items that must be prepaid or paid through escrow.
Comparative market analysis or competitive market analysis, aka CMA, compares the sales price of similar properties in the area to help determine the price of a property.
A CMA estimates a home’s price based on recently sold, similar properties in the immediate area. Real estate agents and brokers create CMA reports to help sellers set listing prices for their homes and help buyers make competitive offers.
If you need more details about CMAs, read “What Is Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) in Real Estate?“.
What is a Contingency?
A provision of the contract that keeps the agreement from being fully legally binding until a certain condition(s) is met.
For example, the purchase of a home can be contingent upon the buyer selling their home first.
Common contingencies include loan approval, satisfactory inspections, and appraisal.
- An appraisal contingency gives the buyer the right to back out if a professional property appraisal comes in lower than a specified minimum, usually the asking price of the property.
- A financing contingency loan approval gives the buyer time to obtain a mortgage and the right to cancel if financing is denied.
- An inspection contingency gives the buyer the right to have the home inspected by a set date.
A number ranging from 300-850 that’s based on an analysis of your credit history.
Your credit score helps lenders determine the likelihood you’ll repay future debts.
You’ll need a score of 620 or better, but you’ll get better financing rates with a score of 720 or higher.
Days on market (DOM) means the number of days a home has been listed on the market.
The number of days the property has been on the market may reflect the desirability and/or pricing of the home.
If the home has been on the market too long, the property may be stale.
What is a down payment?
The sum in cash that you can afford to pay at the time of purchase of a home or property.
A conventional loan down payment is usually 20% of the sales price, but other types of financing require as little as 3.5% to 15%. Some 0% down programs are also available.
A mortgage lender can tell you what types of loans you qualify for.
What is Due Diligence?
When a homebuyer investigates facts about the physical and financial condition of the property and its area before they make an offer and after their contract is accepted.
When buying a home, it’s extremely important to do your “due diligence.” During this period, you’ll look into the condition of your chosen property and compare it to other homes like it to make sure it’s really a good fit.
Due diligence is reasonable steps taken by a person in order to satisfy a legal requirement, especially in buying or selling real estate.
As your agent, we’ll guide you through this process by pointing out and addressing any of the home’s red flags so you feel completely confident about your purchase.
What is an easement? 🔎🏡
A right to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose.
The term often crops up after buyers have made an offer on a home that’s been accepted, at which point a title search brings up the easement—which is essentially the legal right for someone else to use the property, or part of the property for a specific purpose.
Say what? You bend over backward to buy a home and now you have to share?! Don’t worry, in most cases, it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Types of Easements:
📝 Right of way: This is where a neighbor may need to pass through the property via a driveway to access the main road, a neighborhood playground, or a community feature (like a lake).
📝 Utility maintenance: This easement is typically granted to utility companies to run power and cable lines on a property.
📝 HOAs/condos: If you live in a condo or home managed by a homeowners association, odds are these institutions own much of the property—while residents have rights to pass through.
Escrow as it relates to real estate is a process of holding money and documents in a secure account while two parties complete a purchase.
Escrows are usually held by a Title and Escrow company.
This gives the buyer and seller peace of mind that the transaction is safe and that the buyer will not be able to take the money and run.
The escrow account ensures that the buyer has the necessary funds and that the seller will receive them when the transaction is complete.
What is an expired listing?
A real estate listing that has expired and is no longer active, usually because it didn’t sell in the amount of time agreed upon by the listing agent and the owner of the home.
Other reasons for a listing to expire are the asking price was not met, or there were other issues with the property.
If you see an Expired listing, the owner may still be interested in selling. Ask your agent about it.
What is a fixed-rate mortgage?
This mortgage’s interest rate will never change, even if the term of the loan is 30 years.
Fixed-rate mortgages typically have a term of 15 or 30 years.
Homeowners prefer this type of loan as it has a lower amount of risk compared to variable-rate loans, and the monthly payment remains the same for the life of the loan.
What is an FSBO?
FSBO stands for “For Sale by Owner”. Often pronounced “fisbo”.
The owner of the home has it listed without an agent representation.
The buyer’s agent can usually still show the home, as many FSBOs will agree to work with agents representing a buyer.
Be wary of FSBOs since rarely does the homeowner have the requisite knowledge, experience, and understanding needed to sell a property.
What is a Listing?
In real estate, the word “listing” is typically used to refer to the for-sale home or property itself, although it technically means the agreement between the broker and the owner of the home to market and sell the property.
This is not the same as listing the property on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).
What is the MLS?
MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service. They collect, compile and distribute all information about homes listed for sale.
The MLS is the organization real estate brokers use to search for and list properties for their clients.
Membership isn’t open to the general public, although selected MLS data may be sold to real estate listing websites, like Realtor.com or our own MLS listing search where the public can search the MLS at no charge.
See also the term “listing“.
What does Pending mean?
With a property that is pending, the property owner has accepted an offer from a buyer and they are under contract with that buyer.
Their agreement may be subject to a variety of contingencies: inspections, appraisal, financing, and more.
The home is not sold just yet. Typically if the sale does not go through, the house will return to “Active” status.
What is a Pre-Approval Letter?
It is a letter from a lender indicating you qualify for a mortgage of a specific amount.
You’ll fill out a mortgage application, provide documents, and bank statements, get a copy of your credit report, etc.
Getting pre-approved is what you need to do before starting a home search. The person selling your dream home will want to make sure you really are qualified to buy. Most sellers aren’t willing to accept your offer with only a pre-qualification.
What are Property Taxes?
A levy or tax imposed by a municipality on real estate and personal property. The amount of tax varies depending on the property value.
Property taxes are an annual tax that local municipalities collect each year, based on the assessed value of your property (not on the appraised value of your home). These funds help pay for services that benefit the community, such as schools, roads, maintenance, etc.
First-time homeowners often forget to factor property taxes into the overall cost of their new home, which can come as a nasty shock come tax season. So let this be a reminder to all homeowners to calculate property taxes into their annual budget!
💰 BONUS TIP: If you own a rental property, your property taxes may be tax-deductible 💰
Define Real Estate Professional.
An individual who provides services in buying and selling homes.
Real estate professionals are there to help you through the confusing paperwork, find your dream home, negotiate any of the details that come up, and so you know exactly what’s going on in the housing market.
There are several types of real estate professionals including Realtors®, real estate agents, and real estate consultants.
What is a short sale?
The sale of a home sold for less than what’s owed on the mortgage to prevent foreclosure.
A “short sale” is a home sold at a discounted price. But why would someone want to sell their home for less than it’s worth? 🤔
But a short sale can leave less of a negative impact, and some sellers can qualify for other home loans once the short sale closes.
If you’d like to learn more about short sales in our area (how they work, if they’re in your best interest, or how to take advantage of them if you’re a buyer), send us a message 📲
What does Temporarily off the market (TOM) mean?
The owner has decided to take the listing off the market for an undetermined amount of time. Typically, this is because work is being done, or the home is unavailable for showings at the time.
Usually, the home will be back on the market in the near future. If not, the listing status will go to Cancelled.
What is Title Insurance?
An insurance policy that protects a mortgage lender’s or owner’s interest in real property from assorted types of fraudulent claims of ownership. This is typically paid for by the buyer.
Even though you’ll pay for this policy only once, your coverage will last as long as you own your home.
Learn more about title insurance here.
Along the same vein as a contingent offer, we often get the question about the meaning of “active contingent” in real estate.
Active contingent is one of a variety of status updates given to a home listing. If a property has an active contingent label, it means the seller has accepted an offer from a buyer. But the home sale has certain contingencies that need to be met, and the seller is taking backup offers in case the first deal does not go through.
Similar to contingencies being protection for the buyer, having the listing be active contingent offers protections for the seller.
Having a home be active contingent can influence a buyer to release contingencies prematurely, or when they shouldn’t be, just so the “other guy” doesn’t get the house. This would be a mistake!
Buying and selling real estate can be a very emotional time. Relying on your agent to guide you through the process is the best way to end in a result that you will be happy with!
In real estate, a contingent* offer is an offer made on a property, which says that certain conditions must be met in order for the sale to be completed.
These contingencies usually involve the home appraisal (the home value determined by an appraisal), home inspection, and receiving approval for your mortgage.
They may also include an offer contingent on the sale of the home the buyer (you) needs to sell before purchasing the new property.
Contingencies offer important protection for home buyers and are rarely waived.
Should I accept a contingent offer on my house?
If you are both buying and selling, should you take a contingent offer on the property you are selling? Typically, the answer is yes. But this is a decision you should discuss thoroughly with your Realtor®. Every situation is unique, so having an experienced agent is essential for determining if this is the right move for your situation.
* Contingent – occurring or existing only if (certain circumstances) are the case; dependent on.