One of the many reasons one needs a property agent is that they know real estate jargon like the back of their hand. It’s great for a buyer or seller to understand basic property terms themselves. Even if you are not in that position yet, real estate is a market one is bound to get involved in today’s world.
Driving around a neighbourhood searching for properties to buy, you are likely to come across various signs. While ‘Sold’ and ‘For Sale’ are more direct and convey the status of the property, you might come across some other signs as well. One of them is SSTC or Sold STC.
SSTC or Sold Subject to Contract means an offer has been made to the seller, who has accepted the offer. The purchaser’s solicitor makes inquiries about the property, following which the purchaser organizes the required finance. Once solicitors representing both parties are happy to proceed, a contract would be signed between the purchaser and the seller.
This contract stays between the two parties and is not legally binding. The term is commonly used in the industry; some agents or solicitors may also use the term Sale Agreed.
When a purchaser makes a formal offer to buy a property, and the seller is yet to confirm their acceptance or denial, it is termed as being ‘under offer’. If the offer is denied, then the property remains open to offers in the market until a new formal offer is received. If the seller agrees and accepts the formal offer, in that case, the property becomes ‘Sold STC or SSTC’.
Once the contract has been signed, the money and official transfer of the ownership from the seller to the purchaser have to be signed. While this may seem a relatively easy step-by-step procedure, there is much to do to ensure that the sale progresses towards completion.
There are many risks involved; the purchaser might back out of the sale, and the seller would have to go through the whole process of listing and making offers all over again. Even when things go as planned, managing sales depends on the length of the chain and the efficiency of everyone involved. The completion may take from 8 to 12 weeks, depending on these factors.
Meanwhile, the property may or may not be taken off the sellers’ solicitors’ property listings. This depends on the terms decided upon between the purchaser and the seller.
Yes, a formal offer can be extended to a property listed as SSTC. You can view the property, enquire and make offers as technically it is still not sold. Remember, the term signifies a verbal agreement that is not legally binding, nor one that is subject to contract.
While it is not legally forbidden to put an offer on SSTC properties, it is usually seen to be morally unethical. A new potential buyer would have to offer a higher consideration or meet other terms of the requirement set by the seller. This is known as gazumping.
In the UK, on average, 15% of SSTC properties are put back on the market due to the sale not being successful. The details of all interested buyers are retained, and they are informed if the property makes its way back to the market. The sellers’ solicitors keep all such offers noted down for review for such circumstances.
Since an SSTC offer is not legally binding by a contract, what contributes to its flexibility is also what can make it fall apart. This leaves a significant impact on the sale of the property.
The seller might be looking at an elongated time frame to find a new buyer and complete the sale, along with the dent on the consideration. Both buyers and sellers have to be cautious, honest in their transactions and process their SSTC properties as smoothly and timely as possible to avoid such incidents.
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of time and work involved between the property becoming SSTC to finally being sold. Anything could go wrong during this period, and the seller might want to reconsider their options. But nothing is more important in property transactions than transparency. Keeping all the possibilities on the table without making it look all rosy shows how the market wants the best for both the buyer and seller.
I’m Kunzes and I’m a freelance writer and copy editor based in India. I have an academic background in Literature and Creative Writing. In my free time you’ll catch me reading and reviewing books for my bookstagram and listening to true crime podcasts.