Sian Hiatt, Sales Manager, answers this common question that homebuyers often ask during their search...
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.
Something that homebuyers often query is whether there is a difference between a property being marked as “Under Offer” and “Sold Subject to Contract” - often abbreviated to “SSTC”.
While house hunting, buyers are likely to come across both terms, but it’s easy to see why people may be confused into thinking they must mean very different things. The truth is, if a property listed for sale is earmarked as “Under Off” or “Sold Subject to Contract”, they each mean the same thing. It merely depends on which term the estate agent prefers to use.
In theory, a listed property could be tagged as “Under Offer” even if a potential buyer has made an offer that has thus far been rejected, though it’s unlikely an estate agent would want to use the term under these circumstances - mainly because the term could influence other potential buyers to disregard the property believing it to already be on the cusp of being snapped up by another buyer.
Therefore, estate agents tend to only use the term once the seller has actually accepted an offer, regardless of whether the offer is at the asking price or not.
It’s now typically more common to see estate agents use the term “SSTC” or “Sold Subject to Contract”, which basically means that a buyer has had their offer on the property accepted by the seller, but contracts have yet to be finalised and exchanged.
This then begs the question; can another potential buyer make an offer on the property even if another offer has already been accepted?
There tends to be quite a bit of time - often several months - between an offer being accepted and contracts being exchanged, as solicitors have to get involved, surveys need to be conducted, mortgages are yet to be fully approved etc.
During this time there is always the possibility of a sale falling through as the purchase hasn’t been finalised. Structural problems could be revealed by a survey that puts the purchase in serious jeopardy, lenders could back out of offering the mortgage, or buyers themselves could change their mind and back out for whatever reason.
This means that another potential buyer could indeed come in with their own offer if the property is only SSTC. This practice is known as gazumping, and though it’s not as common as it once was, there are times where it does happen - especially during a substantial property market shortage as we have been experiencing over the last year or two.
Some buyers prefer to entirely avoid the confrontation (and disappointment of missing out) of making offers on top of other buyers offers, so many estate agent websites will often provide searchers with an opportunity to omit properties that are “SSTC” from their inventory search results.
The reason estate agents apply the term “SSTC” or “Under Offer” to a property that’s listed for sale before the purchase has gone through is because buyer’s often insist on it as a way to say, “hand’s off, this property is going to be mine”.
To try to appease both buyer and seller, many estate agents will often describe the property with these terms instead of fully removing it from the market before the sale has legally completed. With that said, things aren’t cut and dry, and one estate agent may have a different “gazumping” policy to the next.
Here at CPS Homes our dedicated team of expert estate agents are ready to help you find your dream property - why not check out our property buying guide to gain some invaluable insight into the process? To learn more about how we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 02920 668585, e-mailing email@example.com or by popping into one of our three Cardiff branches.