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That’s a good question and one that I hear frequently. With the proliferation of websites that claim to offer up local listings and then the dashed hopes when one learns that the “big’ sites like Zillow don’t offer ALL the listings, or feature listings that don’t exist, is it any wonder folks are confused?

In recent months, our Madison MLS, officially known as the South Central WI Multiple Listing Service (SCWMLS), has made some important changes that actually service real estate consumers better. That was a very happy day for us and our site visitors who love our website design, our real-time MLS data feed, and the accurate information we strive to supply about homes for sale in Madison WI and throughout Dane County.

Before they made this change, the MLS prohibited agents from displaying the listing status of any property under contract. As a homebuyer you may be thinking “so what?” But consider this: You find a home online that is exactly what you want. You get excited and call your agent, asking to see the home immediately. Only then were you told the house had an accepted offer, or two. What a waste of time, right?

So, why would our MLS do this to consumers? Because with so little inventory on the market, listings, whether spoken for or not, make it look like there is more inventory available than there really is. Sucky, right?

Thankfully, that’s changed & you can find the detailed status of a listing under "Facts & Features". I'd like to take the opportunity to explain the different terms used and how it can help you secure the home of your dreams in this oh-so-strong seller's market. Plus, this info will give you a leg up on those buyers whose agents haven’t taken the time to explain the changes. Hey, any advantage in this market is a good one, so read on.

What is an Accepted Offer?

When a homeowner lists his or her home for sale, it is entered into the local MLS database as an “active” listing. This is a “whoopee!” for folks looking for a home because nobody else has laid claim to it. When a buyer makes an offer on that property and the seller accepts it, the MLS changes the status to "Offer-Show."

What does Offer-Show mean?

When a property is put into "Offer-Show" status on our MLS, it means that the home has an accepted offer. It may still be early in the process and the owner might be willing to take back-up offers. In a strong seller's market it is unlikely the first offer won’t work out. If you have the stomach to lose out on a home and, perhaps more importantly, all the other homes that come onto the market while you're locked into waiting in secondary position on another property that you're now less crazy about, by all means make a backup offer.


Why the MLS, knowing that consumers will see these statuses, would use this terminology is amazing to me, but they do. “Offer-bump” means that the property has an accepted offer, but it is contingent on the sale of another property. You can still view the property, and I counsel my clients that these properties are definitely worth a look because of the way the offer to purchase is structured.

When one has to sell a current home before buying another, and makes the purchase of a home contingent on that sale, any number of things can go wrong. For you, the secondary buyer, the most important thing to know is that the buyer in first position must remove the sale contingency within 24 to 72 hours if they receive notice that another buyer has submitted an offer. This is a big “ask” for any buyer with a home to sell and a boon to a buyer in second position.

If you don’t pay close attention to these listings, you could be missing out on the property of your dreams. Rest assured that when we set you up with listing alerts on lakeandcityhomes.com, you will be alerted to properties with an “AO Bump” status as well as properties that don't have an accepted offer.

The move to pending

When a home is no longer offered for showings to potential buyers, the Madison MLS will list it as “Pending.” You typically won’t see these homes on our website but they may still show up as active listings on the big real estate portals, like Zillow.  That’s because Zillow and sites like it don’t have access to the Madison MLS and depend on agents who choose to participate to update the listings, and not many agents do. It’s not my fault, so I won’t go anywhere near an apology on that one, which leads me to the following.

Reasons to ignore Zillow

Important Note: Trulia.com is owned by Zillow.com so it doesn’t matter which site you use. ..they are identical. Sadly, they both carry the same erroneous information. When a property that is actually in a pending status, and thus disappears from the Madison MLS as an available home for buyers, it most likely will still appear as “active” on Zillow, Trulia, and similar sites. Heck, homes that sold a year ago are still showing up as “active” on these sites and some homes that are for sale are showing up as sold.

What this means is that you shouldn’t be shopping for homes on a website that doesn’t have access to the local MLS. Only sites with IDX capability, like LakeandCityHomes.com, have access to the MLS and show results in REAL TIME. Only sites with IDX capability have direct feeds from the Madison MLS. Sites such as Zillow aren’t licensed for these feeds so who knows from where they get their information.

When in doubt about a property’s status, please don’t hesitate to give us a call, text us or send us an email. We are always happy to discuss Madison real estate.




Posted by Jolenta Averill on
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I hear that real estate is a good investment. I don't know much about it but I think it would be fun to invest in a house and rent it out. Or you could flip it and sell it for me! If worst comes to worst, you have a nice beach house that you have an excuse to visit a few times a year!

Posted by Pam Lassila on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 at 10:59am

It's interesting to see that there are inconsistencies in online listings. It sounds like the best option may be to contact the realty companies to see what is actually available. I know that I would want to avoid any confusion if I was going through the home-buying process. Next time this comes up, I'll definitely have to keep your tips in mind to give myself the best chance at getting through it.

Posted by Ellie Davis on Monday, September 25th, 2017 at 3:34pm

Hello, I am Gary Parker and i must say this blog holds all the knowledge regarding the real estate property selling and holds great things that needs to be keep in mind when you want to sell your property.
Thanks For sharing it with all of us. Thank You.

Posted by Gary Parker on Sunday, November 12th, 2017 at 9:09am

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