When you’re searching for homes online, you might wonder if a house with an offer will be removed from the multiple listing service, or MLS. After scrolling through endless listings and finally finding the one that’s right for you, the last thing you want to hear is that it has received multiple offers. So why don’t houses with offers just get removed after someone has called dibs? That would save people a lot of heartbreak, right?

Trust us, there’s a reason why listings stay up on sites like realtor.com even after they’ve received an offer from an interested buyer. Let’s dive into it.

What happens to the listing when an offer is accepted?

Typically, when an offer has been accepted on a property, its status on the MLS will change to something like “active with contract” or “under contract,” terms that indicate an offer has been accepted but the deal is not yet done. Still, these listings are not automatically removed from the MLS because the road from offer to closing is not always smooth—financing can fall through, the home inspection can change buyers’ minds, or a dozen other things can crop up to derail the deal. Thus, a property with an accepted offer has the potential to go back on the market.

Instead, the listing status of the property for sale is changed. This means buyers and agents can often still find properties online that do indeed have an offer on them.

Interpreting the listing statuses

To ease confusion when looking for properties, you’ll want to know what different statuses mean. “Active” means that a property is currently on the market and available for purchase. It might have received offers, but none has been accepted.

When an MLS listing goes under contract, the status changes to “contingent” before it closes. And this might mean that certain contingencies—such as financing and inspection—haven’t been cleared yet. And if those contingencies are not met, the deal might fall apart.

As a result, some contingent listings will still show up on the MLS because it’s in the best interest of the seller, and potential buyers, to keep a property in play while an offer is being negotiated, says Linda Walters, a Realtor® with Sage Realty in Wayne, PA. Once all contingencies have been cleared and a house has an executed contract on it, the status will change to “pending.” This means the home is ready to close.

At this point, agents are responsible for changing their listings to “pending” on the MLS. A listing that has an accepted offer with executed contract but is still accepting more offers in case the first one falls through is called “pending, showing for backup.”

After the property closes, the real estate agent will change the status to “sold.”

Work with a buyer’s agent for clarity

If you’re looking to buy a home and want to stay updated on a home’s status, your best bet is to work with a buyer’s agent, says Dawn Rivera, a Realtor® with Realty World–Viking Realty in Fremont, CA.

A local agent will have a home’s current accurate status and know immediately when a property goes under contract or is no longer available. Because of their access to the MLS, working with real estate agents will help you have the greatest chance of finding the home you’ve been dreaming of.