Contingent means that a property is under agreement, but that there are some conditions to be met in order for the transaction to close such as inspections, financing, sale of the buyer's home, to provide a few examples.
IF you are pre-qualified for the financing and have a buyer's agent representing you, your agent should contact the seller's agent to check on the conditions. Then, you can decide if you should submit your offer to get a backup contract. This is a low risk way to be first in line for a property you really like if a contingency ends the contract in first position. Follow this link to get more details about this http://db.tt/CzVFIz0.
You should expect your buyer's agent to track everything down for you and ensure that the right one does not get away.
Chuck Braxton, REALTOR GRI