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What does SSTC (Sold Subject to Contract) actually mean?

You’ve probably seen ‘Sold Subject to Contract’ or ‘Sold STC’ on ‘for sale’ boards outside properties before.

But what does it mean for buyers and sellers and does ‘Sold STC’ mean a property is off limits for other buyers?

We explain everything you need to know in this latest guide…

Key takeaways

  • Sold Subject to Contract means a seller has accepted an offer from a buyer
  • Other buyers can still enquire about a property even if it is Sold Subject to Contract

What does Sold STC stand for?

‘Sold STC’ stands for ‘Sold Subject to Contract’ (SSTC) and is used to tell people that a property is under offer and that the offer has been accepted by the person selling the property.

At the ‘Sold STC’ stage, the sale is simply a verbal agreement between the seller and buyer – no legal work has been done and no cash has been exchanged.

What does Sold STC mean if you’re a buyer?

For buyers, ‘Sold STC’ means their offer has been accepted by the property’s seller and the property is now sold to them subject to all legal and paperwork being completed.

Once a property is ‘Sold STC’, the buyer can arrange for their mortgage to be finalised, their solicitor to start legal work, including searches, and their survey to be carried out.

The buyer’s solicitor will raise enquires and draw up a contract that will be exchanged with the seller’s side, making the sale legally binding.

What does Sold STC mean if you’re a seller?

For sellers, SSTC means they’ve accepted an offer from a buyer for their property and that a verbal agreement is in place.

Once the offer is accepted, the property is either removed from online and offline or the seller’s agent will mark it as ‘Sold STC’.

They’ll also replace the ‘for sale’ board outside the property with one that lets people know the property has been Sold Subject to Contract.

While having a property ‘Sold STC’ is a big step for sellers, there is still a lot of work to be done, including the legal process alongside the buyer’s solicitor, and responding to enquires raised by the buyer’s legal representative.

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What’s the difference between under off and Sold STC?

When a property is marked ‘Sold STC’, it means the seller has received and accepted an offer for their property.

‘Under offer’, however, means the seller has received an offer but may be yet to accept it.

This could be because the buyer making the offer isn’t proceedable as they are yet to sell their existing home, or that the seller isn’t completely satisfied with the amount they’re offering.

Why is Sold STC a necessary stage in the buying process?

The stage where a property is ‘Sold Subject to Contract’ provides time for both the seller and buyer to start the legal process with their solicitors and also gives both sides time to change their mind if they wish.

For the buyer, it provides time for them to fully assess the property through a survey.

And for the seller, it gives them time to think about the offer and weigh up if it’s right for them.

In essence, the ‘Sold STC’ process gives everyone involved breathing space to make sure they’re making the right decision.

Can your offer fall through during Sold STC?

An offer can still fall through when a property is ‘Sold STC’ because the sale isn’t legally binding until contracts have been exchanged.

This means even if a property is marked ‘Sold STC’ or even removed from listings, another buyer can still make an offer if they wish and a seller can choose to accept it if they wish.

This is known as ‘gazumping’.

Buyers can also pull out of a sale during the ‘Sold STC’ stage, with neither side committed to the sale until contracts are exchanged.

For sellers, a good estate agent that offers an effective sales progression service can help to avoid sales falling through.

The agent’s sales progressor should support the seller at each stage between ‘Sold STC’ and exchange of contracts, reducing the risk of a buyer pulling out of the process. Find out how Whitegates support sellers.

What does gazumping mean?

Gazumping is when a buyer’s offer is accepted but subsequently rejected due to a higher offer being made by another buyer.

Gazumping isn’t illegal but can cause major problems for buyers who are moving through the buyer process and may have already spent considerable money on legal services and a survey.

Is Sold STC legally binding?

When a property is ‘Sold STC’, the sale is not legally binding.

This means either the buyer or seller can pull out of the process at any point up until the moment contracts are exchanged.

While a property that is ‘Sold STC’ is generally considered to be ‘sold’, the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer isn’t legally binding until the two solicitors exchange contracts with each other.

At that point, the buyer or seller would face major financial consequences if they were to pull out of the process.

Does Sold STC mean the property is off the market?

A property that has been ‘Sold STC’ is effectively removed from the market – but not totally.

Because the property is only sold on the condition that contracts are completed and exchanged between the seller and buyer, ‘Sold STC’ is an informal, verbal agreement only – and not legally binding.

Can other buyers offer while a property is ‘Sold STC’?

While morally making an offer on a property that is ‘Sold STC’ is questionable, legally there’s nothing to stop other buyers doing just that.

All buyers are free to enquire and offer on a ‘Sold STC’ property and if a seller wishes to accept one of those offers, they can.

Further reading…

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