There are many property status designations in the MLS. Here are 4 that relate to your question.
Active - The home is for sale and showing per the instructions in the MLS. They may also be considering offers.
Pending - An offer has been accepted and escrow has been opened. The terms of the contract now dictate the sale, when the deposit is due, the length of the investigation period, the removal of contingencies and the close of escrow date.
Contingent - This is usually related to a short sale. The owner of the home has accepted an offer and has submitted the offer to the bank for negotiation. Usually the bank sends a counter offer or an approval letter outlining their terms and conditions of sale. Once the buyer and the lender have reached an agreement on the terms, the listing status is changed to Pending and the contract then guides the sale as shown above. This process can take from 3 - 15 months depending on the lender(s) involved. If you make a back up offer and the owner decides to cancel the other offer and submit yours, the clock returns to zero and the process starts over.
Sold - Escrow has closed and the new grant deed has been recorded with the county recorders office.
We hope this helps,
Mark & Kari Shea
Shea Real Estate
Home Sales Specialists; New and Resale Homes
Property Valuation Specialists
Land Sales, Acquisitions & Consulting
Serving Greater San Diego