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Realities of Real Estate: For status updates, check with agent

When you hear the question, “What’s your status?” many people think it’s time to update their Facebook pages with news about a life-changing event. For real estate, the status of a property is equally informative and can tell you a lot about what’s happening with a home that’s changing hands.

Even so, the status of a property on many popular home search websites is often limited to categories such as Active (available for sale), Pending (under contract) and Sold. Furthermore, these consumer websites are frequently loaded with bad information. Many times, we’ll have buyers come to us with a property they found on Zillow, only to be disappointed when we tell them the home was sold months ago and Zillow had failed to properly update.

Real estate agents have real-time information on the status of a property for sale, as well as much more detailed data on what that status means for potential buyers. For example, whereas a consumer website usually has no more than the three status categories, agents have access to 10 different property status categories — Active, App Reg, Cntg/KO, Cntg/NOKO, Contract, Expired, Rented, Sold, Temp Off and Withdrawn. Plus, a new category called Coming Soon is coming soon. According to MRIS, our local multiple list system, here is the definition for each of these status categories:

Active: Indicates that the property is available for showing with no contingencies, contract or rental application registered against it. Basically, this means that the property is fully available. But, if a property is Active, there could be a contract in the works. An offer might be in negotiations. So, just because a house is listed as Active, don’t assume it’ll wait around for you.

App Reg (Application Registered): This is for rentals only and indicates that a property is available but a rental application has been registered on it.

Cntg/KO (Contingent with Kick Out): Indicates that the property is available but has a contract with at least one pending contingency that includes a kick-out clause. Here, the sellers have a fully accepted offer, but the buyers have a home sale contingency, meaning that these particular buyers won’t purchase the new property without first selling their current home. In these cases, it’s possible for another buyer, one who doesn’t need to be contingent on a home sale, to buy the house by “kicking out” the initial buyer who won’t remove the home sale contingency. Normally, the seller is obligated to give the first buyer a period of time (typically 72 hours) to decide whether to remove the contingency. If that buyer removes the contingency and can prove the ability buy the new house without first selling the current property, the seller must move ahead with the initial contract, even if the second offer might be for more money.

Cntg/NOKO (Contingent with No Kick Out): Indicates that the property is available but has a contract with at least one pending contingency and the pending contingencies do not contain kick-out clauses. The contract most likely contains contingencies for things like a home inspection, appraisal and financing. The difference with No Kick Out is that another buyer can’t come along and kick out the current contract. The sellers are obligated to let their first buyers execute and satisfy their contingencies within the time frame set forth in the contract. If the buyers can’t get their home loan or withdraw based on something in the home inspection, the property status will return to Active and the seller can entertain new offers.

Contract: Indicates that the property has a fully accepted contract with no pending contingencies. From this point, all that’s left is to go to settlement. The normal flow of status change is from Active to Cntg/NOKO to Contract and then to Sold. Once a property reaches Contract, there is a fairly high degree of certainty that the house will get to settlement. Also, under the status of Contract, this is the first time it is possible to see the buyer agent’s name and when the property is scheduled to settle.

Expired: Indicates that the listing agreement has expired. When a property goes to Expired status, it is open season for listing agents to contact that seller and try to get the listing.

Rented: Indicates that the listing has been rented.

Sold: Indicates that the property is sold and settled. At this point, the game is over. This is also when the selling price becomes public record.

Temporary Off: Indicates that the property is not available for showing. This status is for short-term use, 14 days or fewer, and must have seller approval. Because of something like an illness or holiday, there can be times when a homeowner still wants to sell but wants to stop showings for a limited time.

Withdrawn: Indicates that the listing agreement has been terminated prior to the listing expiration date. This could mean the home owner has decided not to sell, could be in the process of switching agents or might want to take the house off the market for more than 14 days.

Coming Soon: This is a new status coming to the multiple list system in the next month. It indicates that a property is being prepared for sale and will be coming to market. While a property is in Coming Soon status, it cannot be shown to buyers. Also, the Coming Soon status will only be visible to agents who subscribe to the multiple list system. You will not be able to see properties in Coming Soon on consumer websites like Zillow. A property cannot be in Coming Soon status for more than 21 days.

Bob and Donna McWilliams are practicing real estate agents in Maryland with more than 25 years of combined experience. Their email address is McWilliams@BobDonna.com.