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What Does STC mean?

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So, what does STC mean? It stands for ‘subject to contract’, which is where the seller and buyer have agreed a price. However, the deal isn’t irreversible yet. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know.

What does sold STC mean?

Sold STC means ‘subject to contract’. This is where the buyer has made an offer on the property, the Terms of Sale have been agreed, and both parties have agreed a price. However, the final contract (which makes the deal legally binding) has not yet been signed.

What needs to happen?

For the deal to go through, many things need to happen, including:

  • Buyer to arrange a mortgage 
  • Buyer to arrange a survey
  • Solicitor to carry out key parts of the conveyancing process, such as:
    • Running searches
    • Preparing transfer deeds
    • Exchanging contracts
    • Dealing with all legal documents 
  • Certain checks e.g. ensuring there will be no debt when the property is sold

Other names 

To cause some level of confusion, STC can also be referred to as ‘sale agreed’ or ‘under offer’. Different estate agents use different terminology, but it means the same thing.

Can I view a property that’s STC? 

You may notice that property portals will sometimes continue to show properties that are sold (subject to contract). Or, estate agents will update the ‘for sale’ sign outside of a particular property to say ‘under offer’ or ‘sold’.

However, sellers can still consider other buyers and interested parties. It’s not always ethical, as a buyer has already put an offer on a house and had it accepted by the seller, which could lead to them being gazumped

Despite this, it can still happen, as the seller is not legally obliged to sell to that buyer just yet. Also, it can be tempting to look elsewhere, particularly if the process becomes drawn out and lengthy, someone else puts in a higher offer, or if the buyer appears to be unorganised and wasting time. 

Can sold STC fall through?

Yes, many sales don’t make it to contract exchange even after the seller has accepted an offer, for a variety of reasons. 

Some of the causes for a sale to fall through include:

  1. Problems securing a mortgage (remember, a mortgage agreement in principle isn’t a guarantee!)
  2. Issues that arise in the property survey
  3. A break in the property chain
  4. Delays due to searches or poor communication
  5. Change of heart (from buyers and sellers)

What if you like a house that is sold STC? 

If you’re convinced you’ve found the perfect property, the best thing to do is speak to the estate agent or seller directly. 

The seller may be open to viewings even if the property is listed as sold STC, even if they are, be mindful that there is an agreed offer on the table and conveyancing may have started.   

You could also ask if the agent can keep you on record if things fall through and the buyer doesn’t end up buying the house. Many agents keep a list of interest parties – so it pays to stay in touch.

Can other buyers still make an offer on a property that’s STC?

If you’ve made an offer on a house and had it accepted, it’s important to remember you’re not in the clear just yet – so don’t celebrate too early. 

There are many things that need to happen in order for the sale to go through. In England and Wales, a sale is only legally binding when contracts are exchanged (rules are different in Scotland). 

Even if a property is sold STC, the seller could still accept another offer.

To reduce the risk of this happening, make sure:

  • You’re organised and responsive
  • You’ve built as good a relationship with the seller or agent as possible
  • You’re micromanaging every aspect of the purchase 
  • You know the details of everyone in the chain and things 
  • You’re working closely with your solicitor
  • Your solicitor is proactive

Need help finding a good solicitor? The right professional will be an invaluable member of your team when buying a house. We can connect you with members of our expert panel for free – all who work on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis. Get a conveyancing quote below. 

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Last Updated: October 26th, 2022