What Does SSTC Mean?
Looking at what SSTC means in a property sale means, what happens if a house is sold subject to contract, and how it can affect both buyers and sellers.
Alexandra Ventress ★ Digital Content Writer
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Whether you are buying or selling a home, the term SSTC is one that you need to get familiar with. Whilst you may have accepted on offer, or had your offer accepted, there is still a long way to go in the house-buying and selling process.
But what exactly does sold STC mean and how will it affect your sale?
In this blog post we will be looking at what sold subject to contract means, how it can affect you as a buyer and as a seller, and what it means for your house purchase or sale.
What does SSTC mean?
If a property is marked as SSTC or as STC it means the same thing, that property is ‘Sold Subject To Contract’ and that the owner of the property has accepted an offer but it is not yet legally binding. After a property has been marked as SSTC the seller and the buyer will begin the conveyancing process and put in the groundwork towards the exchange of contracts. Up until the contracts are exchanged either the buyer or the seller can pull out without legal consequences.
When it comes to the cost of the property, the price may have been negotiated before or this may happen whilst the property SSTC. This could be the result of an issue pulled up in the survey results. It is also worth noting that some estate agents will use the term ‘sale agreed’ instead of sold SSTC.
What does sold subject to contract mean for the buyer?
If a house is sold STC, it means you have made an offer on a house and that offer has been accepted by the seller. After your offer has been made and accepted, it is time to instruct your solicitor. One of the first steps of this process involves your solicitor examining your draft contract and supporting documents and raising any enquiries you may have with the seller’s solicitor. You will need to look over all of the forms that your seller will have completed, and pass on any concerns or questions you may have to your solicitor. Your solicitor will be able to apply for the necessary property searches when you purchase a property, regardless of whether it is stc or not.
At this stage in the buying process, it is also a good time to book a house survey to. Not only will it show the seller that you are a committed buyer, but it will also highlight any issues in the property before you are legally committed to buying it.
It is also a good idea to get the property listing marked as SSTC as soon as possible as this is a good way to avoid gazumping.
What does sold subject to contract mean for the seller?
If you are a seller and your property is SSTC, then you will have accepted an offer on your house. Once the buyer has provided here proof of funds, you will be able to request that your home is listed as SSTC. Your property will still appear on property portals unless the buyer requests that you remove the property from the site and you agree. Once you have listed your home as SSTC, a ‘ sold STC ‘ sign will replace the ‘For Sale’ sign outside your home.
Whilst you may have a buyer in the pipeline, the work is far from over. There will still be various forms, documents, questionnaires, and paperwork that will need to be filled out, and you will need to provide the buyer with all the information about the property and the sale.
You will also have to negotiate the draft via your solicitors, as well as work with the buyer to decide upon a timeline between exchange and completion as well as fixtures and fittings will be included.
Can I make an offer on a house that is SSTC?
If you find the property of your dreams, but it just so happens to be a house that is sold stc, then fear not. Whilst the seller has accepted an offer, it does not mean they wouldn’t be open to a higher offer. Estate agents are legally obligated to pass on all offers unless the seller has asked them not to do so. If another party swoops in and offers a higher price for a property when an offer has been accepted, it is called Gazumping. It is not a particularly nice or fair tactic on the housing market; however, it is incredibly common.
When a property is gazumped, it is usually because a higher offer has been made, however, this is not always the case. Gazumping can also occur in house sales where timing is becoming an issue. If your solicitor is dragging their feet, or if selling your own home is taking longer than anticipated, you may find the seller accepts the other offer in favour of a buyer who is in a better position.
As a sale is not legally binding until the exchange of contracts, which occurs quite late in the house-selling process, buyers can find themselves out of pocket the later on in the process that they are gazumped. This is why it is a good idea if you live in England or Wales to take out home buyers insurance to protect you in case your dale should fall through.
If you spot a property that you like, you should register interest in the property with the estate agent in case that the sale should fall through when it is SSTC. According to data from Rightmove, around “15% of Sold STC or under offer properties” are back on the market after the sale falls through.
Can I avoid Gazumping?
Whilst unfortunately there is no sure-fire way to guarantee that you won’t get gazumped, there are steps that you can take to help lessen your chances:
By taking the property off the market, you are reducing the number of potential buyers who may see it and gazump you. However, sellers are not always keen to do this so it is wise to offer something in return, such as getting the survey done as soon as you can.
Acting quickly and being prepared are two of the best ways you can help to protect yourself against gazumping. Before you go in with your offer, it is a good idea to have your mortgage in principle finalised, as this will show the seller that you are a serious buyer. You should also have your conveyancing solicitor lined up and ready to go, as well as keeping all the necessary documentation you may need to hand. Once your offer on the property has been accepted, you should aim to keep in regular contact with both your conveyancer and mortgage broker so that your case progresses as fast as possible.
As we have already mentioned, insurance is a great way to help protect you in case the worst-case scenario does happen. By taking out home buyers’ insurance, you will be able to recoup some of the loss you will face for surveys, solicitors fees, and any other costs you may have had to pay.
Can a house that is sold subject to contract fall through?
As with any house sale, the sale of an SSTC property can fall through. Some of the most common reasons why an SSTC or sold STC property sale may fall through is because:
The buyer cannot secure a mortgage
The buyers’ property chain has collapsed
Unforeseen problems have been highlighted in the housing survey
You can help to avoid your property sale falling through by being clear and open upfront about the condition of the property, whether you are in a housing chain or a cash buyer and answering any enquiries as promptly as possible.
How long does it take to go from sold STC to completion?
According to data from Rightmove, it takes an average of 150 days from when a property is marked as ‘sold subject to contract’ to reach completion. This figure is not set in stone though, as how long it takes to complete the sale will depend upon a variety of factors, such as how long it will take you to arrange your mortgage, how long it takes property searches to come back, and how complex your property chain is.
How we can help
Whether you are trying to buy a house that is SSTC and need your own property selling quickly, or you are looking for your next property whilst your is STC, then we are here to help. Here at The Property Selling Company, we specialise in fast, effortless, and free sales, because we believe that buying or selling a home shouldn’t be complicated.
We will be working alongside you every step of the house-selling process, covering everything, so you won’t have to. The days of expensive solicitor fees and legal work are over, and our team of property experts will continue to be there, even after the process is complete.
We will market your property on popular property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, organise viewings, cover legal fees, and negotiate better deals all for free!
So, if you are looking at purchasing a house marked as SSTC, or you are looking to find your next home, we can help you get sold in as little as 28 days! Fill out one of our fast, free, no-obligation forms for your house valuation today!