What does SSTC mean?

When you’re scrolling through house listings in England and Wales, you’ll certainly come across a few labelled ‘SSTC’, but what does this mean?

You might’ve had your offer accepted and think that all the hard work is over, but these four letters suggest otherwise. Here’s everything you need to know about what it means if a property is SSTC.

What does SSTC stand for?

SSTC stands for ‘sold subject to contract’. This means that the seller of the home has accepted an offer, but the agreement is not yet legally binding.

Once a home is under SSTC, the buyer and seller are in the conveyancing process, and this label will stay unchanged until the exchange of contracts. This is when the deal becomes legally binding.

Until the exchange of contract, both the buyer and seller can pull out at any time with no legal repercussions.

It should be noted that conveyancing works completely differently in Scotland, and no property is ever considered sold subject to contract. Instead, homes in Scotland are described as ‘Under Offer’ if an offer has been accepted.

What does SSTC mean for sellers?

If the property you’re selling is listed as ‘SSTC’, it means you have accepted an offer from a buyer.

Once the buyer’s proof of funds has been confirmed, ‘SSTC’ will appear beside your listing on property portals – unless the buyer requests to have it removed and you agree. A ‘Sold STC’ sign will also replace the ‘For Sale’ sign outside your home.

What does SSTC mean for buyers?

If you’re buying a property, SSTC means that the seller has accepted your offer and you can proceed with the conveyancing process. This is just one of many hurdles to surpass before you reach the exchange of contracts, but it is still a huge step in the right direction.

Related: How to speed up the conveyancing process

Can someone view a house that is SSTC?

A home that has been sold subject to contract can still be viewed if the seller agrees to it. However, this could be a risk on the seller’s part as some buyers might choose to withdraw their offer if they find out that the seller is still accepting viewings.

Can someone make an offer on a home listed as SSTC?

If the home you’re interested in is listed as SSTC, you can still make an offer. The estate agent is legally obligated to pass on any offers the seller receives unless the seller requests otherwise. The SSTC stage can be tricky for buyers, as it can lead to ‘gazumping’.

Gazumping is when a higher offer is accepted on the house you are in the process of buying, causing the sale to fall through. Timing may also be an issue for buyers, as taking too long to have a survey or sell your own home might lead to the seller accepting another offer from a buyer whose timeline aligns better with theirs.

If you have no intention of gazumping another buyer, you can register your interest in the property with the agent in case the sale falls through while it is SSTC. As soon as the property is back on the market, you will be notified and able to submit your offer.

Related: At what stages can a house sale fall through?

How can buyers prevent being gazumped?

Get insured

Unfortunately, there is no way of stopping your seller from accepting a higher offer while the home is SSTC. The exchanging of contracts happens at the end of the sales process, so there is a fairly large window of time open for another offer to come in.

Throughout the conveyancing process, the buyer may spend a substantial amount of money on things like surveys, arranging a mortgage and paying the conveyancer for local searches. This is why home buyers protection insurance is recommended, as it can offer coverage for losses from a sale falling through.

Act fast

Applying for a mortgage can take a lot of time, and your application may not be accepted, so getting a mortgage agreement in principle before you make an offer on a home will put you in a better position as a buyer. You should also instruct a solicitor and get all your documents in order so that they are ready when you need them.

Once your offer has been accepted, make sure to stay in touch with your conveyancing solicitor and mortgage provider to keep the ball rolling and ensure your case is being attended to. This means responding quickly to any requests for information so that all other parties can get to work quickly.

Request that the property be taken off the market

If the property is no longer being advertised, you won’t have to worry about higher offers coming in. There is no harm in asking for the property to be taken off the market, but the seller does not have to agree to this.

You may put yourself in a better position by offering something in exchange for the home being removed from the market, such as agreeing to get your survey done as soon as the offer is accepted to speed the conveyancing process up.

Thinking about selling your home? Contact our expert team today

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