Looking for a new house or selling one is not the most straightforward task. There are many regulations and legal procedures that you need to consider. This will mean that you understand some of the standard terms that apply when buying or selling a house.
You might have come across the sign, ‘Sold Subject to Contract’ during your home search, and wondered what exactly it means. By the end of this article, you will be able to decode such terms and understand the difference between STC and Under Offer. The entire conveyancing process is quite detailed, but with the right information, you will avoid making mistakes.
The Conveyancing Process
Before you get a clearer understanding of what sold subject to contract means, it is essential to know what the conveyancing process entails. The conveyancing process is the legal process from the point a buyer makes an offer to a house to when the buyer receives keys to the home. For a seller, the legal process should begin as soon as they place a price on their property for sale. The buyer and seller must maintain a contractual relationship all through to avoid legal hitches and loss of money.
A conveyancing process can take as long as the buyer and seller take to reach a buying or selling agreement. To make the process easier, you can hire a solicitor who is more versed with the step by step conveyancing procedure. A solicitor will help you be attentive to sold subject to contract and under offer signs. They will also advise you on how to handle an STC sign.
Note that you can handle the entire conveyancing process as an individual if you have a solid legal background in line with the UK property market, or you could use an online conveyancing company which have become more popular because of the reduced costs.
What Sold Subject to Contract Means
Not every ‘Sold’ sign on a property means that the sale is final. For some, when you take a closer look, you will find ‘subject to contract’ words added below the sold-sign. The STC terms mean that an offer already exists on the property that the buyer has considered. However, the offer may not be final since no contracts have been signed yet. It means that the offer is only verbal and so payment has not been made as well.
The common question buyers ask for such cases is if they can still make an offer?
Houses with the STC label are not yet sold; hence, they may fall through if a better offer is made to the seller. For a buyer who wanted the home, this is good news as they can still make an offer or request to be on the waiting list in case the sale falls through.
Unfortunately for the buyer who placed the initial offer, there is nothing they can do to stop the seller from changing their minds. If they attempt to, it is considered illegal and can lead to a costly consequence. For the initial buyer to avoid cases of disappointment, they need to be quick to finalise their mortgage or at least sign the final contract with the terms of payment. The buyer should use this stage to make sure that they are quite confident about purchasing the property and use their solicitors to help them do final check-ups on the property.
For the seller, as soon as a potential buyer sends an acceptance letter, the property is no longer on sale but sold subject to contract. The property listing should be removed as the seller waits for the signing of the final agreement. Both the buyer’s and the seller’s solicitor should work hand in hand to make sure that the interests of both parties are well managed and considered.
A common term that is easily confused with STC is the ‘Under Offer’ tag on a property. When a property is under offer, it means that a potential buyer has placed an offer to the seller, and the seller is yet to accept. If you are a buyer looking to make an offer on the house with this tag, you are free to do so as the property is still on the offer stage. In most cases, an under offer post will mean that a potential buyer has made a bid for the property but under the initial price set by the seller.
Difference Between STC and UO
To get a more precise distinction between an STC and a UO, consider a buyer looking for a property and finds two houses they want but with these two tags. In the first case, the STC tag means that the buyer needs to inquire if there is anything they can do to counter an offer already made or if they can be updated when the first offer falls through.
In the second case, the buyer is at liberty to directly make an offer as the first offer is yet to be considered. In the UO stage, the seller is still deciding if they should let their property go at a suggested offer, while in the STC stage, the seller is already willing to sell, only they have not yet signed the final contract to make the sale official. A buyer with a better offer can still win in both cases.
Property is fully and legally sold only when the buyer and the seller have signed the final contract. Otherwise, a seller still has time to change their mind and decide to go with a better offer. It is, therefore, up to an interested buyer to act fast if they want a house and have the right price to entice the seller. Else, offers can still be made in whichever stage before the final contract.