What Does Active Mean in Real Estate?

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By Michael Yessis Updated February 16, 2021


Status: active | Active statuses | Active contingent | Active continue to show | Active first right | Active kick-out | Active no-show | Active option contract | Active under contract | Frequently asked questions

An active listing on a real estate portal means the corresponding property is currently for sale. The seller hasn't accepted any offers. You can make one if you're interested.

It's a straight-forward definition — except for several important variations.

Variations on the status: active

Several types of active statuses build on the core active listing status. Often, these variations indicate a buyer has made a bid that the seller has accepted.

These other active statuses can have slightly different names, depending on one's location or what real estate portal you're searching.

» READ: 15 Best Websites for Home Buyers

No matter what kind of active status you come across on a house, know this: you can still potentially put in a bid.

active listing illustration

Types of active statuses in real estate, explained

✍️ Editor’s note: Below, you'll find common descriptions of active statuses, but you might see variations depending where you live and where you're searching online.

Active contingent

The seller of a house with an active contingent status has accepted an offer, unlike a seller with a straight-up active listing.

An active contingent status signals that an accepted offer contains contingencies, which are conditions "that must be met before a contract is legally binding."[1]

In other words, it means another party has made an offer but some issues — the contingencies — need to be resolved before the deal can move forward.

The most common contingencies revolve around home inspections (59% of home-purchase contracts), financing (47%), and appraisals (46%).[2]

» READ MORE: What Does Contingent Mean in Real Estate?

The bottom line for a potential buyer of a house with active contingent status: Your odds aren't great. Only 6% of all home-purchase contracts fell through in November 2020, according to that month's Realtors Confidence Index Survey.

Still, a good agent can analyze your particular situation and potentially set you up to get an active contingent house.

» FIND A QUALIFIED AGENT: Connect with a top-rated realtor in your area

Active continue to show

Like active contingent, the status "active continue to show" means an offer has been made on a house, and it has been accepted by the seller.

With this status, the seller also publicly signals they're continuing to show the house and will accept backup offers.

📖 Fact About Contingencies

The original offer on an "active continue to show" house most likely will contain contingencies. According to the May 2020 Realtors Confidence Index Survey, 76% percent of contracts that month included them.

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To find out more about an "active continue to show" property and the details of its status, have your agent talk to the seller's agent.

Active first right

The seller of a house with the status "active first right" has accepted an offer. The status also indicates the seller will entertain more offers.

The initial buyer, however, retains the right to match further offers.

In practice, the "active first right" status often indicates a buyer needs to sell their current home before they can complete the purchase of the new home.

📢 Example: How an 'active first right status' works

  • Buyer 1 submits a bid on a house that's contingent on selling their own house.
  • The seller continues taking bids, just in case Buyer 1 can't sell their house.
  • Buyer 2 makes an offer on the house.
  • Buyer 1 has the right to meet the offer that Buyer 2 makes on the house.
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You may also see this status called "active right of first refusal," or "active rfr."

It can get complicated. But a good agent can help decipher the situation — and any baffling acronyms — for a home buyer.

» NEED A REALTOR? Get in touch to connect with top-rated realtors in your area.

Active kick-out

The seller of a house with an "active kick out" status has accepted an offer.

Additionally, the status indicates the seller will accept more offers, reserving the right to bypass the initial offer — that's the kick out — should a better offer arise.

If another offer comes in, the seller typically provides the first buyer a window of time to sweeten or move forward with the initial offer before getting the boot. Usually, the first buyer must respond within 72 hours.

Here's another situation where a good agent can advise you how to bid should you want to pursue a property with an "active kick-out" status.

Active no-show

An "active no-show" status indicates the seller isn't showing the property at the present time, even though it's an active listing.

The status doesn't indicate if the house has any offers.

A good agent can help you sleuth out more about the status of the property and whether you might be able to get a future showing.

Active option contract

An "active option contract" status means a seller has accepted an offer, and that the buyer has a period of time — the option period — to inspect the property.

📖 Active option contract variations

An "active option contract" status is similar to an "active contingent" status. According to Redfin, an active option contract is "called a contingency period or due diligence period" in some areas.

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The buyer can back out of the deal, should they not be happy with what they find during the inspection.

Active under contract

An "active under contract" status indicates a seller has accepted an offer that includes contingencies.

The sellers of an "active under contract" property usually want backup offers. Why? Because this status also often indicates the property is a short sale, which is subject to the approval of a third party.

📖 Short sale details

In a short sale, a house goes on sale for less than the amount owed on the seller's mortgage.

Often, it's a financially distressed seller facing foreclosure and the transaction needs to be approved by the seller's lender.

Because short sales need outside approval, they're more complex than a traditional sale. Sellers can hedge by looking for backup offers.

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Frequently asked questions

How will I know if a house listing is active?

Almost any house listed on a real estate portal is an active listing.

A house that's inactive should be designated inactive on the site, or it simply won't appear in the listings.

Can you make an offer on a house that is active contingent?

Yes, but it will be a backup offer.

Backup offers follow the same process as a primary offer. But the seller won't seriously consider your secondary offer unless the first offer falls apart.

What does inactive status mean?

A house with an inactive status is, at that moment, no longer for sale.

It doesn't mean the house is permanently off the market. Inactive houses can become active again. For instance, a deal could fall through late in the home-purchase process, spurring the seller to put the house back on the market.

Article Sources

[1] FTC.gov – "The Real Estate Marketplace Glossary". Accessed February 15, 2021.
[2] National Association of Realtors – "May 2020 Realtors Confidence Index Survey". Accessed February 15, 2021.

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