If you’re actively looking to buy a property, you’ve probably heard a real estate agent saying that a house or an apartment you’re interested in is ‘under offer’.
But, what does under offer mean? Can you still view the property and make an offer, and how is it different from a property that’s marked as sold STC?
Let’s find out.
In England and Wales, a property ‘under offer’ means that a potential buyer has made an offer on a property that the seller is considering.
The term is often used by estate agents when advertising or marketing a property to attract higher offers. They also often use guide prices to generate more buzz.
On the other hand, ‘under offer’ in Scotland means that the seller has already accepted an offer from a buyer (in writing). It’s not a legally binding agreement but is considered to be a step further in the sale process.
A property under offer is not taken off the market, meaning other buyers can still make offers on the property.
The property can still count viewings, and the seller has the right to look at and even accept offers from other buyers.
A sold STC, which stands for Sold Subject to Contract, means that the seller has accepted the offer and the parties have started the process leading up to the exchange of contracts.
When there’s an under offer house, the seller has not yet accepted the offer from the buyer.
If you find a property that’s labelled as under offer or sold by STC, it’s best to call an estate agent to check if you can still place an offer.
Gazumping happens when another potential buyer beats your offer on a property with theirs.
The seller can accept a higher offer from another buyer even as you’ve moved into the later stages of securing the deal. This can be especially frustrating if you’ve paid for mortgage costs, legal services, and property searches.
According to a survey done by Market Financial Solutions in 2019, 31% of UK homeowners have lost an under offer property in the last decade due to being gazumped.
To prevent that from happening, you should speed up the process that leads to the exchange of contracts and completion. You can do that by:
There are different stages that buyers and sellers have to go through to get a house from under offer to an official sale.
On average, this lasts between 6-8 weeks.
However, if the buyer has to apply for a mortgage, it would take longer, as lenders require certain searches to be done and need time to transfer the funds to the borrower.
Cash buyers usually seal the deal faster since they don’t have to deal with any potential transaction hold-ups, and there are generally fewer issues when a no-chain property is involved, so the process should move quicker.
In some situations, the buyer and seller can reach ‘completion’ in as little as 4 weeks (or less), especially if the property is freehold.
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Once you, as a seller, officially accept a buyer’s offer, you can then:
Sellers can take their property off the market to signal to buyers that they’re serious about the offer they’ve received. However, they should only move forward with this if they’re certain the sale won’t flop and that they won’t end up getting charged for issues that might occur with the house.
After you land an offer, you should tell your solicitors about your intentions and plans regarding the property so they can start working on a deal.
If you’re looking to buy another property, once you’ve sold your current one, you’ll need to apply for house repayments as soon as possible so you have enough time to deal with any potential issues that may arise.
If you’re purchasing another property, you will need to find a surveyor who will start the surveys and help you determine the property’s worth. Once you have the results of the survey, you can start negotiations.
Once you set a moving-out date, you should book a removal company as soon as possible, as these can get booked up quickly.
The exchange of contracts happens when the buyer and seller’s solicitors send each other signed contracts to finalise the deal. This act is legally binding, and once it’s done, neither the seller nor buyer can back out of the deal without facing significant penalties.
Completion is the final step of the entire process, where the seller transfers the ownership of the property to the buyer.
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When a house is ‘under offer’, it means that a buyer has made an offer that the current owner is considering – it is often used by real estate agents to generate higher biddings for the property they’re trying to sell.
Other potential buyers can still make their offers, and the seller has the right to opt for another deal.
The seller cannot back out of the deal once they’ve exchanged contracts with the buyer. If they do, they’ll be subject to a hefty penalty.
Buyers can ask an estate agent for proof that another potential buyer has put down an offer on the same house. If the estate agent provides proof in writing, then it’s unlikely to be a trick to get you to offer more money for the property.
When a property is marked as SSTC, it means that both parties are in the process of discussing the exchange of contracts, but the seller can still accept another deal. So, what does under offer mean? In this case, there is an offer that the seller is considering, but they still haven’t accepted it, meaning that the house is still on the market.
My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.