Real Estate Marketing Tips
May 3, 2024

10 Reasons Why Pending Home Sales Fall Through in Real Estate

6 min read

Navigating the complexities of the real estate market can be challenging, especially during the crucial phase of a pending sale. This period is critical as buyers and sellers move closer to finalizing the deal.

However, despite the anticipation, various hurdles may prevent the transaction from closing successfully. We explore the primary reasons pending home sales might fail to complete, uncovering common issues such as financial setbacks, inspection surprises, and other potential deal-breakers.

By understanding these pitfalls, buyers and sellers can better prepare and enhance their chances of a smooth and successful sale.

What Is a Pending Sale?

What Is a Pending Sale?

A pending sale in real estate happens when a seller accepts an offer from a buyer, but the transaction hasn’t yet been completed. During this critical phase, often referred to as a pending sale, the agreement is subject to various conditions or contingencies agreed upon by both parties.

These contingencies must be satisfied for the pending home sales to move forward to closing. Issues arising during this period can lead to pending sales falling, affecting buyers and sellers.

Legal challenges like title issues or unforeseen circumstances affecting the buyer's ability to proceed can also occur. Each of these issues can lead to a pending sale fall, where the transaction falls apart before closing.

Effective communication and prompt resolution of these issues are essential to mitigate the risks of a pending sale fall and ensure a smooth transition to closing.

What Can Cause My Home Sale to Fall Through?

Several factors can derail a pending home sale, ranging from financing issues to unexpected discoveries about the property’s condition. Understanding these pitfalls, including the home sale contingency and home inspection contingency, can help sellers prepare better and address potential problems before they jeopardize the deal.

A home sale contingency allows buyers to back out if they cannot sell their home. In contrast, a home inspection contingency gives them the option to renegotiate or withdraw based on the findings of a property inspection.

Awareness of these contingencies and planning accordingly can significantly enhance a seller’s ability to navigate potential obstacles smoothly.

10 Reasons Why Pending Home Sales Fall Through in Real Estate

10 Reasons Why Pending Home Sales Fall Through in Real Estate

1. The Buyer’s Mortgage Financing Falls Through

Financing issues are a common cause for failed home sales. If buyers cannot secure a mortgage approval, they cannot follow through with the purchase at the agreed purchase price.

This can happen if the property's appraised value is lower than expected, complicating the loan amount that the bank is willing to finance. With the necessary funding, the buyer can proceed, leading to the potential collapse of the sale.

2. The Home Inspection Turns Up Major Damage

Significant structural issues or failures in major systems uncovered during a home inspection can severely impact the sales process. Such critical findings might prompt buyers to renegotiate the purchase price or completely withdraw their offer, putting the entire transaction at risk.

To avoid such complications, it's advisable to ensure the property is thoroughly inspected, and any major issues are addressed before listing it for sale. This proactive approach helps maintain the sale's integrity and reduces the likelihood of last-minute disruptions.

3. The Appraisal Is Lower Than the Sale Price

When a property's appraisal comes in lower than the negotiated sale price, it poses a significant challenge for both the seller and the buyer. Since lenders typically base loan amounts on the appraised value, a lower appraisal can result in a financing gap for the buyer.

This discrepancy often forces both parties to renegotiate the sale price or requires the buyer to cover the difference out-of-pocket. These issues could derail the sale if unresolved, highlighting the importance of realistic pricing and preparation for potential appraisal issues in the sales strategy.

4. The Buyer Can’t Sell Their Old Home

Many buyers rely on selling their current home to finance the acquisition of a new one. Selling their house swiftly secures the necessary funds to proceed with the next purchase, smoothly facilitating the transition from one property to another.

However, if they encounter delays or difficulties in selling, it can jeopardize their ability to buy the new home. This situation not only impacts the individual transactions involved but can also affect multiple related real estate dealings.

This chain of dependencies highlights the interconnected nature of real estate transactions, where the delay or failure of one sale can ripple through and impact several others.

5. There Are Issues with the Title

Issues with the title, like unsettled boundary disputes or existing debts attached to the property, can halt a home sale. Resolving all these title issues before moving forward with the sale is important. This ensures that the new owner gets a clear title without any legal troubles.

A clear title means buyers can enjoy their new home without worrying about unexpected claims or disputes. Resolving these issues often requires the help of a legal professional who specializes in property law.

This expert can navigate the complexities and help secure a trouble-free transfer of ownership.

6. The Home Isn’t Insurable

Insurance is crucial for completing most home sales as it protects both the buyer's and the lender’s investments. If a property is deemed uninsurable, for instance, due to being located in a high-risk area, such as a flood zone, or being in poor condition, this can jeopardize the pending sale and complicate the selling process.

Such conditions often prevent the buyer from securing the necessary financing through their buyer's lender, especially if there's a financing contingency in place, risking the sale’s completion. Ensuring a property meets insurance criteria is vital to avoid pending home sales falling through.

7. The Buyer Is Inexperienced

First-time buyers often lack familiarity with the buying process, leading to delays or misunderstandings that impact the transaction. Real estate agents play a crucial role here, guiding these buyers through obtaining a loan, making an offer, and understanding contractual agreements.

By thoroughly explaining these components, agents ensure buyers are well-prepared and confident, smoothing the path for a successful transaction and preventing potential home sale contingencies from causing the sale to fall through.

8. Details Are Missing on the Paperwork

Accurate and complete paperwork is essential to avoid significant delays or even cancellation of the sale. Buyers, sellers, and their real estate agents must meticulously review all documents to ensure they are thorough and correct.

This attention to detail is critical in selling to prevent potential pending sale falls due to administrative errors. All parties need to understand every clause and condition in the agreement to ensure no misunderstandings could impede the sale.

Regular updates and check-ins on the progress of these documents can help catch and rectify any inaccuracies early. This comprehensive review process not only safeguards the interests of all involved but also smoothens the pathway to a successful transaction.

9. The Buyer or Seller Gets Cold Feet

Emotional reactions can sometimes lead either party to withdraw from the deal, impacting the buying process unexpectedly. Buyer home sale contingency is a common factor in such scenarios, as buyers can back out if they cannot sell their current home.

This can disrupt the entire selling process, delaying and necessitating renegotiations. Open and frequent communication between all parties is essential to manage expectations and prevent last-minute changes that could cause a pending home sale to fall through.

10. What Do I Do if My Home Sale Falls Through?

Experiencing a failed home sale can be disheartening, yet viewing it as a common challenge that offers a chance for strategic reassessment and improvement is crucial. If your home sale falls through, take a moment to reevaluate the factors involved—the pricing, the condition of the home, or the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.

Consult with your real estate agent, who can provide invaluable insights and suggest necessary adjustments based on their understanding of the local market. Consider enhancing your home’s appeal through virtual restaging, allowing potential buyers to visualize different layouts and the property’s potential without visiting in person.

Final Thoughts

Embarking on the journey of selling your home demands a deep understanding of the real estate landscape and a readiness to confront its common pitfalls. You can effectively navigate these challenges by adopting a proactive and meticulous approach.

Enhance your home's allure through Virtual Restaging, transforming it into a captivating showcase that attracts discerning buyers. This strategic approach smoothens your path to a successful closing, empowering you with knowledge and confidence.

Discover the transformative impact of our virtual restaging services. Embrace the opportunity to enhance your home’s market presence and appeal to prospective buyers.

Take the first step towards a successful sale today.


What does it mean when a contract falls through?

When a contract falls through, the pending sale has been canceled. This often happens if necessary contingencies—like securing financing or satisfactory results from a home inspection—are unmet, leading to one or both parties withdrawing from the agreement.

Can a pending transaction be declined?

Indeed, a pending transaction can be declined if the contract's stipulated conditions aren't fulfilled. It's important to be aware of common reasons, such as the buyer's inability to secure financing or unresolved issues during the property inspection that neither party is willing to correct.

How long does it take for a pending sale to go through?

The duration of a pending sale varies, typically ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months. This timeline depends on the specific contingencies involved, such as mortgage approval processes and the outcomes of property inspections.

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