What does ‘sold subject to contract’ mean?

Within the property and real estate industry, many pose the question, what does “Sold Subject to Contract” mean?, particularly within the United Kingdom’s property market. 

STC signifies that a property has received an offer from a prospective buyer and the seller has accepted this offer. However, the sale has not yet reached its finality; it is still subject to the contract being finalised and all legal obligations being fulfilled.

Our editorial details everything around the STC process

What’s the Difference between ‘Under Offer’ and ‘Sold STC’

 The phrases “under offer” and “sold STC” are often used interchangeably, but they signify different stages in the property selling process. 

When a property is marked as “under offer,” it means that a potential buyer has made an offer that the seller has yet to accept. The property is essentially reserved for the potential buyer until a decision is reached.

On the other hand, when a property is labelled as “sold STC,” it indicates that an offer has been accepted by the seller, and both parties are now in the process of finalising the necessary legal procedures before the sale is officially completed.

How Long Does It Take to Go from Sold STC to a Completed Sale?

 The duration it takes for a property to transition from being “sold STC” to a fully completed sale can vary significantly. 

The timeline depends on various factors, including the complexity of the property chain, the efficiency of solicitors, and the completion of any necessary inspections or surveys. 

On average, the process can take anywhere from several weeks to a few months. Delays can arise due to issues like renegotiations, survey results, or mortgage approval hiccoughs. Both parties, along with their legal representatives, collaborate to ensure a smooth transition from “sold STC” to a completed sale.

What Happens After a Property Changes as Sold STC

After a property is marked as “sold STC,” the legal procedures begin to solidify the sale. Both the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors work to draught and exchange contracts, outline terms and conditions, and finalise the details of the transaction. The buyer typically pays a deposit as a commitment to the sale. During this stage, it is possible for either party to back out, though penalties may be involved.

The sale becomes legally binding only after contracts are exchanged. Until then, the property may still be marketed and even viewed by other potential buyers, although any further offers would be subject to the original buyer’s withdrawal from the transaction.

Straight to Sold (with No ‘Subject to Contract’)

In some fortunate cases, a property may transition directly from being listed to being completely sold, skipping the “subject to contract” phase altogether. This could occur when a cash buyer is involved, eliminating the need for a mortgage approval process.

Additionally, if both parties are in a position to expedite the legal procedures, a property might move directly from acceptance to completion. However, this scenario is less common due to the complexities and legalities involved in real estate transactions.

Can You Offer on a Property That’s Sold STC?

Technically, yes, you can still make an offer on a property that is marked as “sold STC.” Until contracts are exchanged, the property is not legally bound to the initial buyer. However, this practise is often discouraged, as it can lead to a chain reaction of offers and counteroffers, causing uncertainty and confusion for all parties involved.

Moreover, the initial buyer might have already invested time, effort, and resources into the transaction. Therefore, it is generally considered more ethical to respect the “sold STC” status and explore other available properties on the market.

Final Words

The transition from “sold STC” to a completed sale involves legal procedures, negotiations, and collaborations between both parties and their solicitors.

While the intricacies of the process can lead to variations in timelines, the importance of adhering to ethical practises and respecting the efforts of both buyers and sellers remains paramount.


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Jeremy Baker

Jeremy is seasoned writer with a real time grasp of the UK property market. With a profound understanding of real estate dynamics and an intuitive feel for market trends, he provides readers with valuable insights and analysis.