What does STC (Sold Subject to Contract ) mean?

Posted 3 October 2017 by Helen Christie

Sold STC and Under Offer are terms you may see when looking to purchase a home, but what do they mean? Our guide explains

When you’re searching for a new home, you may sometimes see ‘Sold STC’ next to a property, so what does this mean?

Sold STC

Sold STC means that the seller has accepted an offer on the property, but the deal is still subject to contract – the paperwork for the offer has not yet been completed and in most of the country, that means that the purchase is not legally binding yet, although in Scotland, STC doesn’t exist, and the purchase is final once an offer has been accepted.

Under offer and STC

Essentially, there is no difference between under offer and Sold STC, they both mean that the seller has agreed to an offer but there is not yet a binding contract.

What does Sold STC mean for the buyer?

Once an offer has been accepted, the buyer must instruct their solicitor, and it can be a long process. The buyer will need to be approved for a mortgage, organise surveys, negotiate the contracts and arrange all the details of the sale before signing the contracts.

What does Sold STC mean for the seller?

Once they have agreed an offer, similar to the buyer, the seller will instruct their solicitor, who will begin the transfer of ownership.

Can I make an offer on a house that is Sold STC?

You can still make enquiries about a property that is under offer, or Sold Subject to Contract, and you can even make an offer on a house that is Sold STC. If you put in an offer higher than what the seller has already accepted, and the seller accepts, this is known as gazumping. Estate agents are legally obliged to inform the seller of any offers made.  Research has shown that nearly a third of property purchases fall through when the property is Sold STC.

The main reasons for this are:

- The seller deciding not to sell

- The buyer pulling out when their own sale fell through

- The buyer found a different property to purchase

- The buyer was gazumped

This tends to apply more to older properties rather than new builds, as new builds are chain free and buyers will usually pay a reservation fee for a plot, then if the contracts are not exchanged, the new build will become available again. Reserved new build properties are generally withdrawn from sale, whereas older properties will usually remain on the market until contracts have been signed.

How long will it take to complete once a property is Sold STC?

It depends. It can be a lengthy process, though the buyer and seller can agree to have the property removed from advertising, and the seller can agree not to show the property to anyone else. This can help prevent the buyer being gazumped.

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