Real estate sites like Zillow use the data from local Multiple Listing Services (MLS), and then add additional properties for sale by people who are not using the MLS. If you are looking at Zillow, all the properties read, “(type of property) for sale.” That works. However, you then need to click on the property to find out if there were changes to the marketing along the way. Those changes may affect your buying strategy.
If you are getting property information directly through the Multiple Listing Service from an agent, you will see more detail, up front, if you know what the abbreviations mean.
The abbreviations and how they help you decide about offering on a house:
What does (NEW) mean? New to the market (NEW). This is the first weekend that the property is on the market.
- If you are in a market where there are bidding wars, the seller is hoping there will be one this weekend. Get advice on the fair market value of the property from your buyer’s agent.
- Prepare by being clear about your top price, so you don’t lose your head and overbid.
- Don’t look at this property, if it is at the very top of your price range. If it goes into a bidding war, you will be disappointed. What is worse is that you will set your heart on property that is just a little better than you can afford. Most people can see a house that is way over their price range and not “want” it, for real. But, if it is just a little better, it hurts your sense of what you can buy. Looking a little over your price range makes what you can afford look shabby in your eyes.
What does (ACT) mean? It is for sale and able to be shown, Active (ACT).
This is not brand new to the market, so it is less likely to have a bidding war. However, in the first week or two of marketing, most sellers will not take less than asking price.
What does (PCG) mean? Price Changed (PCG). This is a recent change in price.
- The seller just directed the agent to lower (or raise) the price. This indicates that it was not selling at the previous price.
- This is an opportunity for a buyer. However, like ACT, the seller will want the changed price for at least a week or two.
- Check how significant the change is. Sometimes, agents use PCG just to get attention. The change might be $1000.
What does (BOM) mean? Back on Market (BOM). The property had an accepted offer, now it is for sale again.
The sellers accepted an offer from a buyer. That buyer cannot or will not complete the sale. What could have gone wrong?
- The seller was unreasonable, and made additional demands on the buyer.
- The buyer was unreasonable, and made additional demands on the seller.
- The buyer found something wrong during the inspection, then asked for compensation. The seller refused.
- The buyer found something wrong during the inspection, then withdrew because of that problem.
- The buyer had poorly vetted mortgage credentials or lost their ability to get a mortgage for the property.
- The seller got flaky and decided not to sell, now wants to sell.
- The buyer got flaky and decided not to buy.
What to do if you see this abbreviation? You will not get a 100% true answer, if you or your agent ask why the deal fell through. There is always some positive spin put on the information.
- The seller’s agent is not going to tell you that the seller is unreasonable.
- The seller’s agent may say something vague like, “the buyer got cold feet”. If there is no explanation about why that happened, it could still mean there is something wrong with the house or the seller.
- The seller’s agent must tell you if there is a material problem with the house. However, it will be put in the best possible light. Often, we hear things like, “there was a foundation crack that we are having filled, and then a list of little things that don’t amount to much.” That second part is in the eye of the beholder.
- If the buyers couldn’t get a mortgage, the agent should have a reason that is beyond their control, like sudden job loss or the death or disability of one of the buyers. If the appraisal came in too low, and the caused the mortgage to fail, the agent should be telling you so. Otherwise, it is an indication that the seller’s agent did not do their job for the seller – checking that the preapproval for the buyer was valid.
What does (EXT) mean? Extended (EXT).
This means that the contract between the seller and the listing agent came to the end date and was extended.
What does (RAC) mean? Reactivated (RAC)
This means that the property was withdrawn, and now can be shown again. (see withdrawn below).
What does (CTG) mean? Contingent (CTG)
There is an accepted offer on the property, but there is still inspections or mortgage contingencies that could make it fall through. The property is still being shown in case something goes wrong with the current transaction.
- You can see CTG properties, but it is not a good idea. If the seller chose a qualified buyer, the chances are that the sale will go through.
- You are teasing yourselves with something you can’t have.
- You are also putting pressure on the buyer whose offer was accepted, since the seller can then make demands based on your interest.
What does (UAG) mean? Under Agreement (UAG)
There is an accepted offer on the property, but there may still be inspections or mortgage contingencies that could make it fall through. The property is not being shown anymore.
What does (SLD) mean? Sold (SLD)
Sold properties show what the market is bearing.
What does (RNT) mean? Rented (RNT)
The property is rented. It is not for sale.
What does (WDN) mean? Temporarily Withdrawn (WDN)
The contract between the seller and the listing agent is still active, but the seller has chosen not to show the property at this time.
There are legitimate reasons that a seller may choose to stop marketing a property in the middle of a contract.
- No showings during a holiday week.
- No showings because someone in the house is sick or recovering from surgery.
- No showings so the sellers can make a repair to address feedback they are getting from buyers.
- No showings because something went wrong in the house and they have repairs going on.
What does (EXP) mean? Expired (EXP)
The contract between the seller and the listing agent has ended. The seller no longer has an agent. It might come back on the market with that agent or another agent.
What does (CAN) mean? Canceled (CAN)
The contract between the seller and the listing agent has ended before the deadline. The agent was fired or quit. It might come back on the market with another agent.
What does (CSO) mean? Coming Soon (CSO) This is not for sale yet. No one is allowed to see it.
Legitimate reasons a property would be CSO:
- The property is being renovated. The seller wants buyers to anticipate it coming to market, so there will be a quick sale.
- The property is rented. The seller doesn’t want to disrupt the tenants. The seller wants buyers to anticipate it coming to market, so there will be a quick sale.
The MLS rules for a CSO listing is that no buyers can see it before a certain date. If your agent says that you can see a CSO listing early, that agent is violating the MLS rules. This cheating practice is a disadvantage to sellers.