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  1. Blog
  2. What Does ‘Sold STC’ Mean?
Moving House Tips and Tricks
06 May 2022

What Does ‘Sold STC’ Mean?

GetAgent Team

Table of contents

  1. 1. What does ‘sold subject to contract’ mean?
  2. 2. Is SSTC different throughout the UK?
  3. 3. How long does it take to sell from subject to contract?
  4. 4. Is there a chance a property that’s SSTC won’t actually sell?
  5. 5. What happens after SSTC?
  6. 6. Streamline your selling processes with GetAgent

Look closely at the small print on a ‘sold’ property sign in the UK and you may see the words ‘sold subject to contract’, or the ‘SSTC’ acronym. It’s one of many potentially confusing terms you come across when looking at the sale or purchase of a property — but it’s important to understand.

Across the UK, almost two out of three properties are currently in SSTC stages. This means that they are in an interim period between submitting an offer, often verbally, and signing contracts. During this time, sellers will check the financial state of their potential buyers, and the buyer will conduct surveys and conveyance of the property with an external solicitor.

In this article, we explain what SSTC means, how long the process takes and what happens once due diligence is complete. Continue reading to find out what you expect from the SSTC process as both a buyer and a seller.

What does ‘sold subject to contract’ mean?

‘Sold subject to contract’ means that an offer has been made on a property and that the seller has provisionally accepted it. So far though, this is just a verbal agreement; the paperwork is not complete and no money has changed hands.

It’s key to remember that the agreement of the sale itself is not legally binding. The sale is only complete once contracts have been written and signed.

‘Sold subject to contract' is often abbreviated as either ‘Sold STC’ or ‘SSTC’. Throughout this article, we will use SSTC.

What does SSTC mean for a buyer?

For a buyer, SSTC means that their offer has been accepted by the seller.

Once you have made an offer on a property and it has been accepted by the seller, it’s now time to finalise your mortgage and organise searches and surveys to see if there's anything wrong with the property.

There is an opportunity for you to back out or renegotiate if any problems arise. Buyers can chase estate agents and solicitors if they feel things are taking too long.

What does SSTC mean for a seller?

For a seller, SSTC means that they have accepted an offer from a buyer.

When you receive and accept an offer on your property from a prospective buyer, it becomes Sold STC. Your property listing will be removed from, or updated as SSTC on property websites and on signs outside the house.

The buyer will provide their proof of funds and send solicitors to check the property, and eventually start legal proceedings to transfer ownership.

Is SSTC different throughout the UK?

The SSTC stage is a common part of the property sale process across most of the UK, but there is no such stage in Scotland. In Scotland, once an offer on a property is accepted, it is enforceable by law.

How long does it take to sell from subject to contract?

The time it takes for a home to go from SSTC to contract signing can take around 6 to 12 weeks. The overall time to close a house sale in the UK, from viewing to handover, is usually 60 to 90 days.

Timelines can vary due to:

  • Personal circumstances
  • Mortgage problems
  • Length of buyer chain
  • Area where your property is located
  • Surveys and conveyance processes

Is there a chance a property that’s SSTC won’t actually sell?

At the SSTC stage, a house sale can still fall through. There are a number of reasons why this can happen: issues being flagged by a valuation survey, or simply because the buyer or seller changes their mind.

Over 306,000 UK property sales fell through before they reached completion during 2020, and were estimated to cost homebuyers an average of £2,700 after paying for unused surveys and conveyance processes.

Sales can fall through for five primary reasons.

1. Mortgage problems

Sales can often fall through when a buyer’s mortgage offer expires or is altered due to a change in circumstance. Down-valuations, when mortgage lenders value a property lower than the buyer has agreed to pay, can also lead to sales falling apart.

2. Survey issues and costs

Survey issues or difficulty securing mortgages caused 27% of sale fall-throughs in 2021.

A home survey can reveal any number of problems with the property — the more money spent during this stage, the higher the likelihood that buyers will withdraw their offer.

3. Gazumping

‘Gazumping’ is when a seller accepts a buyer’s offer, but then rejects it before the exchange of contracts in order to accept a better offer.

4. Conveyancing delays

Conveyancing can take up to 8 weeks in the UK. Delays on top of that can cause buyers to lose patience, change their minds, or decide the timeline is too long.

5. House chain collapse

According to Which?, 1 in 5 property deals fall through due to property chain problems per year in the UK. Both buyers and sellers may drop out of the sale as a result.

What happens after SSTC?

This is when the sale officially comes together. Every detail is defined and contracts between the buyer and seller are exchanged.

Once both parties are satisfied with all the aspects of the sale, SSTC ends with signing and exchanging contracts. In the UK, a buyer will pay a deposit of 5% to 10% of the total agreed price and the sale becomes legally binding.

Finally, you’ll decide when to hand over the keys and move in.

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