15 July, 2019
What does SSTC mean?
The phrase Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC or Sold STC) means that an offer has been made on a property and a seller has accepted it. At this stage, it is just a verbal agreement, and as such, not yet legally binding – and therefore ‘subject to contract’. Other commonly used terms such as ‘sale agreed’ or ‘under offer’ essentially mean the same thing. Read more about what STC means for both buyers and sellers.
How to make sure your sale progresses smoothly
Once you have received and accepted an offer on your property from a prospective buyer, it is now SSTC. Your property listing will be removed from or updated as sold STC on your estate agent’s and other property websites, and a ‘Sold’ or ‘Sold STC’ sign will replace the ‘For Sale’ one outside your home.
You may feel like you are almost home and dry, yet in reality, there is much to do to ensure the sale progresses and up until exchange of contracts, there is the risk that your buyer could pull out. Even when things are going to plan, the time taken to get to exchange can vary enormously depending on the length of the chain and the efficiency of the solicitors and other agents involved. No chain could mean exchange in as little as 8 weeks, while a small chain of 2-3 houses will usually take at least 12 weeks.
At this stage of the process, for both your sale (and onward purchase if this applies), the following documents should be in place for both yourself and your buyer:
- proof of funds for your deposit (if you are taking out a mortgage) or proof of cash
- your agreement in principle/mortgage promise
- the details of the solicitors/conveyancing firm you will be using
- proof of identity
Your agent will draft up a sales memorandum which contains the details of all parties involved in the sale purchase and send that to the relevant solicitors, seller and purchasers. You can however, contact your solicitor directly to formally instruct them to start the conveyancing as quickly as possible.
It pays to choose your solicitor or conveyancer carefully as they are crucial to the whole process. Check online reviews and ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues, to ensure your sale and/or purchase is in good hands. Be wary of online conveyancing firms based outside the area, local knowledge of a certain road or housing estate can be very helpful. Furthermore, the online alternatives can often be staffed by people with very limited legal knowledge and experience. The legal process of buying a house is not complex, however it can throw up a few oddities. A fully qualified solicitor or conveyancer will be the best equipped to help.
It is best to avoid setting any dates for exchange and or completion. Feel free to discuss an aspiration, but bear in mind that there are many unforeseen variables that could affect the speed of the process; how quickly a mortgage offer arrives, legal issues that come to light and need to be overcome, survey issues, etc. Trying to manage a chain of individuals who all want the same thing, but not necessarily at the same speed, can be akin to herding cats, so it is best to be patient.
Your solicitor or conveyancer will probably ask you for a lot of information, and it’s important to fill out, review, sign and return everything quickly and efficiently. If you aren’t sure of the answer to any of the questions, speak to your agent, as giving incorrect answers at this stage is likely to lead to enquiries being raised later. A good agent should give you an idea of what paperwork is likely to be required at each stage, in order to help you get organised. Make sure to keep copies of all documents to hand in case you need them at any point. Read more about the sales process.
Once the initial forms containing property information have been returned, your solicitor will draw up a draft contract on your sale and expect to receive a draft contract on your related purchase.
If you are also buying a property, make sure you don’t delay with requesting and paying for your solicitor to carry the necessary searches on your new home. The most common ones include Local Authority Search, Water and Drainage and Environmental Search.
Similarly, to keep things moving along, don’t delay in making your mortgage application as this will impact on how quickly the mortgage valuation is done. It can be nerve-wracking waiting for the results of the surveys as any major issues flagged up, can mean difficulties with securing the required loan amount.
Following the searches and surveys, it is natural for a bit of ‘toing and froing’ to take place between all parties as enquiries come up. Take enough to time to consider your answers but don’t sit on anything for too long.
Good communication really is the name of the game from the day you go under offer until you the day you complete. Keep in regular contact with your solicitor and estate agent. There will be periods of hiatus especially when the draft contracts are first issued and searches are applied for. As we get closer to exchange, the level of activity will peak. If you are away on holiday at any point, make sure that you are fully contactable.
Preparing for exchange of contracts
Hopefully you will have got to the point of exchanging contracts without too much of a hiccup. If you are buying a property, ensure your finance is in place well ahead of time. Forward your deposit to your solicitor’s client's account, so that they can then forward it on to the seller’s solicitor upon exchange.
You can finally breathe a sigh of relief, when the exchange of contracts has taken place. At this point, your buyer is legally bound to the purchase of the property and completion day will be in sight. You will soon be picking up the keys and popping that cork!
Whether you’re selling or buying, a good estate agent should guide you through every step of the SSTC stage of a house sale. While, we can’t tell you exactly how long it will take, we can, and we will keep you informed as developments are made. Call us today to find out how we can help you with your next move on Wokingham 0118 977 6776 or Crowthorne 01344 779 999.