What Do the MLS Statuses Mean?

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a trade organization that regulates the relationships between the various real estate brokers, home inspectors, appraisers, and other related professionals in a given region. Most regions in the USA have an MLS, with the notable exception of New York City.

The MLS in Pittsburgh is called the “WestPenn Multilist.” You can find their website here.

The MLS has several different categories of property listings. I will describe them here.


When a listing is “active” it means the property is currently for sale and anyone is welcome to view it and make an offer. Often, appointments must be made ahead of time, but sometimes the properties are vacant and can be shown by a member of the MLS without an appointment.


When a seller and buyer have signed an agreement of sale and the agreement contains one or more provisions allowing the buyer to cancel the sale, the listing becomes “contingent.” It’s possible the house could become “active” again, but not very likely. The contingencies in the agreement of sale are most often related to a property inspection and mortgage approval. If the inspection goes poorly, or the mortgage loan is not approved, the buyer may have to back out of the deal and the sellers then have the option to put their house back on the market.

Frustratingly, most sellers choose to continue to market their homes as “for sale” when they’re actually contingent. It can sometimes be hard to tell which properties are contingent depending upon where you are seeing the property advertised.

Under Contract

“Under Contract” is just like “contingent” but the contingencies have all been resolved. So, the buyer could still back out, but they may be at risk of losing their deposit. Homes that are “under contract” are even less likely to come back on the market than “contingent” homes.


A listing becomes “expired” when the seller decides to remove the listing. Usually, this is because the sellers have decided to fire their agent! Sometimes a listing will expire because the sellers have decided to stop trying to sell their home for whatever reason.


A listing is withdrawn when the sellers decide they don’t want to show or advertise the home, but they still want to be represented by their agent. Often, people will temporarily withdraw a listing in order to complete repairs, go on vacation, or just to take a break from having to accommodate showings all the time.

Showing Info

In addition to the listing statuses, each listing has a showing status. They are:

Appointment Only

An appointment must be made ahead of time, and the buyers can see the property only during that time. Sometimes, sellers will require 24 or more hours of notice. This is often the case when the sellers want to clean up, or they have small children and/or pets and need to make arrangements.


When a listing is totally vacant, an MLS member can usually show up anytime from 8 AM to 8 PM with no warning.

There are several gradations between these two extremes, but please understand that the vast majority of listing require some notice to be shown by your agent. I know HGTV makes it seem like every house is vacant and you can just show up whenever, but that’s often not the case!

I hope this information is useful to you in your search for a new home!

Jay Villella