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What Does Sold STC Mean?

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29th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 26th Feb 2020) 5 minute read

Sold ‘Subject to Contract’ (STC) means an offer has been agreed between the buyer and seller, but is subject to change as the contracts haven’t been signed. The property may still be considered as available and higher offers can be put forward.

When searching for a property you may come across the term ‘Sold STC’ prompting immediate questions. This guide will aid your understanding of what it means for your potential sale or purchase. We will explore how long the process may take and what it means for both the buyer and seller individually. 

There is still a lot that needs to be done during this process and so it would be helpful to use Compare My Move to find up to 5 licensed conveyancers or conveyancing solicitors to help you begin.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Does Sold Subject to Contract Mean?
  2. Under Offer vs. Sold STC: What's the difference?
  3. How Long Does Sold STC Take?
  4. What Does Sold STC Mean When Buying a House?
  5. What Does Sold STC Mean When Selling a House?
  6. Can I Put an Offer on a House if it's Sold STC?
  7. How Does Sold STC Connect to Gazumping?
  8. Saving Money with Compare My Move

What Does Sold Subject to Contract Mean?

Sold 'Subject to Contract’ means a house offer has been agreed, but as the contracts haven't been signed, another buyer could make an offer and get it accepted, too. Sold 'Subject to Contract' is often abbreviated as either Sold STC or SSTC.

It's a term often used by estate agents for when an offer has been accepted by a property owner but is not legally binding as no contracts have been signed or exchanged. Technically, the property is still available to those who enquire or present a higher offer.

The is common across the country but in Scotland, however, this stage does not exist as a contract is legally binding once an offer has been agreed upon by both parties.  

Under Offer vs. Sold STC: What's the difference?

‘Under Offer’ or 'UO' is a term used by estate agents that means a formal offer has been accepted on the property in question. As the name suggests, the offer is usually under the asking price and may first need consideration from the homeowner. 

The property will remain on the market if the offer is rejected or will be listed as Sold STC if accepted. Simply, it’s the waiting period before a property is considered Sold STC otherwise, there’s not much difference between the two terms.

As a prospective buyer, you’re able to inquire about a property if it’s either Under Offer or Sold STC and can legally make a counter-offer. No paperwork has been completed and so you’re legally able to intervene with another offer.

How Long Does Sold STC Take?

There is no set time for how long it will take for a property to move from being sold ‘Subject to Contract’ to legally binding. There may be a date verbally agreed upon by the buyer and seller but the length varies. On average, it can take anywhere between 2-3 months until contracts are exchanged. It's during this period that the buyer may want to consider arranging their mortgage and finding a reliable surveyor to inspect the property.

What Does Sold STC Mean When Buying a House?

Once a property is Sold STC, work begins to transfer ownership. This is where verified conveyancers or conveyancing solicitors are needed to begin the process and exchange contracts. It's a lengthy period crammed with paperwork. As a buyer you will want to begin arranging your mortgage, find licensed surveyors to conduct searches and negotiate contracts with the seller. 

It's important to remember that even though the seller is not yet legally committed to the sale, neither are you. It's important to use reliable surveyors to ensure the property is right for you, you should also compare surveyors to get the best deal. Take this uncertain time to ensure that you are fully informed on the property and are happy to proceed.

What Does Sold STC Mean When Selling a House?

Sold STC would mean that the seller has accepted the offer provided. The estate agents will update the property listing and a ‘Sold’ or ‘Sold STC’ sign will be erected on the property. This is where the legal process begins and ownership is transferred.

As the seller, you will want to consult your solicitor and discuss the relevant contracts and paperwork to begin the process of transferring ownership. You are legally able to reconsider the offer but be aware that it was originally agreed upon. The buyer may also have queries about the property or the agreement that you will need to answer.

Can I Put an Offer on a House if it's Sold STC?

It is possible to make an offer on a property that is Sold STC. The property is still technically available as the paperwork is still pending. Other potential buyers may take this opportunity to enquire about the property and make another offer to the seller. Some transactions may even fail during this period making the property available to you. According to Right Move, on average "15% of Sold STC or UO properties come back on the market" if the sale has failed to go through thus immediately making it available to other buyers. 

There are moral debates surrounding this topic as providing the seller with counter-offer is considered as ‘gazumping’ and deemed unfair as an agreement has been accepted. However, legally it is possible and some sellers will welcome higher offers.  

How Does Sold STC Connect to Gazumping?

Gazumping is when a potential buyer succeeds in acquiring a property even though the seller previously accepted an offer before this. It's widely considered as ‘unfair’ but it's not illegal. Gazumping is possible during the Sold STC stage as it's an uncertain time where another prospective buyer may sway the seller with a higher offer. As no contracts have been signed or exchanged, this is completely legal.

The latest data from Market Financial Solutions revealed that 31% of British homeowners in the past decade have lost out on a property deal because of gazumping. This is a staggering amount of homeowners and proves how common the issue is. 

It's possible for buyers to try avoiding this risk by agreeing either verbally or in writing that no viewings will take place now that an offer has been accepted. Buyers may speak to the seller’s estate agents to discuss removing the property’s advertisement. If the property is no longer advertised the risk of other potential offers decreases. For further reassurance, insurance can be taken out to protect the financial aspects of the deal or financial contracts can be offered to assure commitment. Remember that these will require commitment from both the seller and the buyer and are legally binding.

Saving Money with Compare My Move

We hope this guide has been useful and has successfully explained to you the meaning of Sold STC. It can certainly be a lengthy process filled with paperwork and legal documents. But Compare My Move are here to help with a quick and easy form to connect you with up to 5 licensed conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors for when you are ready to continue with your sale or purchase.

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.