In New Jersey, the home is typically changed in the MLS as in attorney review (AR) as soon as the contract is signed by both buyer and seller and has been delivered to the respective attorneys for their review.
Once attorney review is completed, it is listed as under contract (UC), and once it closes, then, and only then listed as sold (C or S).
However, legally during the ENTIRE period from signing to closing, another contract may be submitted to the sellers attorney, UNLESS THE SELLER PUTS IN WRITING that they are no longer accepting any offers, or are accepting back-up offers only !!
I have had a few of my listings remain active and showing for back-up offers (with a written note from the seller) all through the process until the buyers have met all their contingencies. (Nowadays it's not obtaining the mortgage commitment that can kill a transaction and this protects the seller a bit) but this is not typically what happens.
Hope that helps.
If you are in a situation where you feel that you should have an opportunity and you are being stone-walled, then have your agent (I hope you are working with one, no reason not to...) contact the listing broker for clarification. If you can't get your offer through to the seller via the agent, you can also have your agent submit it directly to the seller's attorney.
Fact is, in NJ, we as agents are really obligated to present any and all offers we receive to the seller.
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But it is totally legal and proper to tell the world that the Seller is not in a position to accept an offer at this time, because they are otherwise engaged.
I'm confused, but perhaps I don't understand all the particulars of your question. Some days you see, I AM as slow as my ex-wife says :-)
In NJ (you pros will keep me honest I'm sure), a home usually remains as Active until it's through the 3-day Attorney Review period. After that, it goes to Under Contract. Technically, it shouldn't be changed to Sold until after Settlement.
I'm not saying that it's not possible for an agent to change the status of a listing in a way that is not technically appropriate. BUT - for all I know, the agent consulted with the Seller on changing the status early, based on a great "all cash" offer and so it was done? But there's usually a nice normal progression of how the listing changes in the MLS, from Active to Settled.
I may have missed an official stage between Active and Under Contract. But I hope that one of the pros will step in and correct this.