This is actually a much more common question than one would expect to hear.
The internet is a great place to research properties, but one of the problems is that most of the major websites aren’t providing the entire picture. You may have found a property that’s listed for sale on Realtor.com, or Trulia, or Zillow, but when you dig a little deeper (and by dig deeper, I mean when you contact someone like me,) you often find that the properties that are shown on those sites are already “under contract.”
So what does it mean to be “Under Contract?”
In short, it means that a buyer and a seller have come to a meeting of the minds on a proposed purchase contract and both have signed and agree to the terms and conditions of the contract.
It is at this point that we refer to the contract as “Executory,” but not “Executed.” An executed contract is one in which both parties have fully performed all of the required terms and conditions.
It’s also at this point that we are only able to accept backup offers contingent upon cancellation of the first offer which is considered, naturally, in first position. A backup offer can also be “Executory” as long as the terms are clear regarding its position in line with the other contracts. No two buyers can be under contract on the same property without hefty consequence.
Properties that are under contract that are not marked as Pending in the MLS are still available, but you’ll probably find yourself amongst competition for 2nd position. More often than not, 1st position will close the deal and all subsequent offers will miss out.
So, when you come across a house that appears to be on the market, make sure you contact your REALTOR® and ask whether or not the house is actually available.