What Does Sold STC Mean In Property? Sold Subject To Contract Explained

Written by Myles Hemingway

Myles is our self-confessed ‘word nerd’ and property geek. You’ll find him mythbusting everything from house repayments to maisonettes, as well as giving you our spin on the latest property news and industry trends.

Houses Sold Subject To Contract (STC/ SSTC), have had an offer made against them, which has been accepted by the seller. However, that doesn't mean the sale is legally binding just yet. Sold STC is merely a way of saying that a verbal agreement has been reached between the buyer and seller, which remains so until contracts are exchanged. All of which means that houses Sold Subject To Contract are 'technically' still on the market. So if one catches your eye, there's still a good chance you could clinch a deal.

But that's not all you need to know - that's just the basics. Read on to discover more about why houses sold subject to contract are something you shouldn't count out, as well as exactly what STC means in terms of a property sale...

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What's the difference between Sold Subject To Contract and Under Offer?

The major difference between Under Offer and Sold STC is that under offer comes first. Under Offer is the stage before a property is Sold Subject To Contract where perhaps the seller and buyer are still negotiating terms, but the buyer is serious and wants their interest to be known. By terms we mean details like the final price or what will be included for that (i.e. fixtures and fittings, extra work being done etc.). However, a property could still be kept as Under Offer because there's an issue in the chain below too. Perhaps the buyer of their property needs their property to be market STC before they can do so with their onward purchase.

The best way to sum up the 'Sold STC VS Under Offer' debate is that Under Offer is a way of a buyer reducing the likelihood of any more viewings on their desired onwards purchase. Whereas Sold STC is a way of buyers deterring other potential buyers from making an offer. But in the end, neither Under Offer or Sold STC can prevent a property from falling through.

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Can I make an offer on a house that is SSTC?

Yes, anyone can make an offer on a house that is Sold STC, so if you're SSTC on your onward purchase, don't get ahead of yourself. It's not yours just yet. And even when a property is marked as Sold, there's still a chance a buyer could back out. The only time where a sale is actually 'locked in' so to speak, is when you exchange contracts. This is typically in-between a fortnight and a month before completion - i.e. when you get the keys.

If before exchange of contracts another party does sabotage your sale and you find yourself outbid, then this is what's known as gazumping. However, don't just assume that money is the reason behind gazumping. Sellers can also be enticed by a buyer who can complete faster or who is cash buyer too.

What does Sold Subject To Contract mean for a buyer?

In the eyes of a buyer, Sold STC means that they've had an offer accepted by the seller of the property they wish to buy. As a buyer you should always try and push an agent to mark the property as SSTC as soon as possible - preferably on the same day that your offer is accepted. Do so and finding the property over portals like Rightmove and Zoopla is likely to be trickier. Plus, the majority of buyers see the word 'Sold' and assume exactly that. STC is often a very important detail that many buyers forget, so the chance of another interested party coming along is far slimmer. A great way to avoid being gazumped.

From here you would then instruct your solicitors and arrange for a RICS Homebuyers survey, as well as any other independent surveys you wish to have carried out. This could be to clear up any doubt around structural issues or assess the severity of conditions like damp. You can even have surveys carried out for boundary issues too if that's an area of concern.

FYI: Just because a house goes Sold STC doesn't mean the current deal won't be changed or challenged at a later date.

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What does Sold STC mean for a seller?

As a seller, Sold Subject To Contract means that you've accepted an offer from a buyer and their proof of funds have been confirmed. In essence, they're an eligiable buyer and likely to be the party who buys the house. Soon after your property will also be marked Sold STC over all the major property portals. But, it's important you don't do this before the proof of funds has been accepted. In the case your buyer turns out not to have the funds they originally said, perhaps due to a job loss or simply a web of lies, then you've likely lost any other interest you had.

Once your buyer's proof of funds has been accepted, you'll then instruct a solicitor and start the whole process of transferring the legal ownership

What happens after Sold STC?

The period after Sold Subject To Contract is when the sale actually comes together. Every detail of the deal is defined and contracts between the buyer and seller have been exchanged. By doing so, all parties in the sale are contractually obliged to make the purchase. Backing out of a house sale after exchange of contracts can be a costly process and is something we would NOT advise.

Can SSTC fall through? What happens then?

Yes, because being Sold Subject To Contract does not mean your buyer is the legal owner of your property. That's only when contracts are exchanged. But it's worth noting that if SSTC does fall through, then it can be a BIG blow to your property sale. Not only can it elongate your timeframe, but it can also see you forced to accept a lower offer next time round. So to avoid that from being the case, here's a couple of tips to minimise the chance of this happening...

  • Emphasise your strong position - Be you a buyer or seller, your position largely determines your hand in negotiations. Emphasise its strength to other parties and you're less likely to have a sale fall through. i.e. make it known if you've no dependant sale or are a cash buyer. And even if your position isn't the strongest (perhaps you still have a house to sell?), don't try to cover it up. Be open and honest with each other and the likelihood of a chain break should be low.
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  • Don't cover up defects - If you don't want a SSTC sale to fall through then you have to be upfront and honest about any structural defects, or if you're a buyer, ask the right questions. One failed survey is usually all it takes to send both parties back to square one.

  • Avoid gazumping - The easiest way to avoid gazumping is speed. Buyers: once your offer has been accepted, get the property marked as Sold STC as fast as you can. Muscle it through to Under Offer within 24 hours and Sold STC shortly after. And sellers, don't hang around either. Do so and you could well open yourself up to being gazundered by your buyer, or just have them pull out. Then once you're sale's set up and ready to go appoint a fast solicitor. The quicker the sale, the less likely they'll be an issues.

  • Opt for an off-market sale - If you're a seller, you could well skirt around all of these potential hurdles by going against tradition. Ask yourself this? What's the one thing that causes a property sale to fall through?


Buyers.

While there are a few reliable buyers on the open market, it's fair to say not every buyer follows this trend. A good portion can be overly picky and also unreliable. Not what you want when selling a house. So perhaps the secret to avoid a sale falling through, is to not follow the crowd. Go off-market and buyers tend to be far less picky.

Take us for example. We're an industry leading cash buyer of property across England and Wales, who can have you Sold Subject To Contract within a matter of hours. To be Sold, only take as little as 7 days! We're not the picky type either - we'll buy any house in any condition in any location. So, if your house is a tad 'individual' and would require you finding a very specific type of buyer, then we could be just what you're looking for.

Plus, we look after you too. We'll cover your solicitors and surveys as well as help you negotiate on your owward purchase if need be. Point being, if you sell to us the whole drama around Sold Subject To Contract is something you don't need to worry about. You can simply sit back and let us do the work.

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