What does Sold STC mean in practice?

Last updated: May 2024 | 4 min read

On your house hunt, you might just find a home that you absolutely adore. But then you come across the phrase 'Sold STC' or 'SSTC' on this property listing. These indicate that an offer on a property has been accepted by the seller, but the sale isn't legally binding yet. It's 'subject to contract' until the paperwork is completed. Read on to find out what SSTC means, and if you can still venture forth into making an offer for your dream home.

Sold STC means sold subject to contract.

In other words, the seller has accepted the buyer's offer price, but the sale contract has not been signed by the parties.

At this stage, there is still the possibility that the sale might not complete, so if you are interested in the property, you should still contact the agent to express your interest. If the sale does not go through, you might be in line as the next possible buyer.

The property might be listed as Sold STC but there will be much work before completion of the conveyancing and actual sale.

Making and accepting an offer is an early stage of the conveyancing process.

Why advertise a property as Sold STC?

Estate agents like to show properties as Sold STC for marketing purposes. There is no legal basis for the practice.

By showing a mixture of properties without offers and with offers in their windows (on their websites), agents effectively advertise:

  • that they handle a wide range of properties, including ones like a prospective seller might sell and ones that a prospective seller might buy,

  • that they are successful in finding buyers (which for sellers is a reason to use their services, and for buyers a reason not to delay in registering their interest),

  • that they are so successful that they don't have time to take down properties that they have sold, and

  • that they act as agent for more properties than they actually do.

If you are interested in a property advertised as Sold STC

Whether or not you can view the property will be up to the seller.

In theory, he or she has already agreed to sell to someone else but the exchange of contracts has not happened as yet. They may not want to show you around (either because it takes his or her time and he or she does not feel your viewing is worth the time, or because he or she feels that it is unethical to entertain the possibility of selling to someone else).

When sellers may allow a viewing for a Sold STC

Some sellers may allow a viewing if:

  • they think you might make a higher offer,

  • you are in a more attractive buying position (for example, you are not in a chain and already have a mortgage agreed in principle), or

  • the current buyer is taking too long.

You should talk to the agent about your interest. There may be a chance you can view the property and make a more attractive offer (known as gazumping).

Even if the seller prefers to continue with the current sale, the agent may be able to find other similar properties that suit your requirements.

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