If you are moving to Scotland from England, you may have some questions about how the Scottish conveyancing system works. Here, we look at some of the most common questions we are asked by clients buying property in Scotland for the first time:
- I have seen a property I like in Scotland, what should I do?
- What is a Home Report?
- What does it mean if a property goes to a ‘closing date’?
- What does ‘offers over’ mean?
- I am ready to make an offer, what happens next?
- Do I need to have a mortgage in place before I make an offer?
- If my offer is accepted, when do I sign the contract?
- What happens after missives have been concluded?
- What is the ‘date of entry’?
- Can my date of entry be the same day as the completion date for my property in England?
We hope you find this guide useful, and if you have any further questions or would like advice tailored to your circumstances, please get in touch here.
If you have found a property you are interested in, the first thing you should do is instruct a solicitor and ask them to note interest. Making a note of interest does not mean you are obliged to make an offer on the property. Instead, you will simply be kept informed if the property goes to a closing date.
When you view a property or note interest in Scotland, you will be provided with a Home Report (unless you are buying a new-build home). The Home Report tells you about the property through a single survey and valuation, a property questionnaire, and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It is worth noting that The Law Society of Scotland recommends that you do not rely on a Home Report which is more than twelve weeks old. You can read more about the contents of a Home Report and how to obtain one here.
Where more than one party wishes to make an offer on a property, the agents for the seller may set a closing date - this is the date by which all interested parties must make an offer. Once a closing date has been set, the seller will not normally consider offers on an individual basis, but assess all offers together after the closing date to identify their best option. The seller will typically accept the highest offer, but there are other factors which may affect their decision.
If a property is advertised as ‘offers over’, this means there is no fixed price for the home. This is typical for property sales in Scotland, and the actual sale price may be considerably higher than the amount stated. An experienced local solicitor will be able to advise you.
To make an offer on a property in Scotland, you will need the help of a solicitor. The offer must be submitted in the correct format and a verbal offer is not legally binding.
While you do not need to have a mortgage in place to make an offer, property sales move quickly in Scotland so we would recommend that you have financial arrangements in place in case your offer is successful. If you have a property to sell in England, you should normally wait until you have exchanged contracts before submitting an offer on a property in Scotland.
Unlike the process in England, there is no single contract to sign for the purchase of a property in Scotland. The contract for the purchase of your property is made up of a series of communications known as missives. When these communications come to an end and everything has been agreed, this is referred to as concluding missives - at this stage, the contract for the property purchase becomes legally binding.
After missives have been concluded, your solicitor will complete all of the legal work required to transfer ownership of the property into your name. They will examine the title to the property, draft the new title deed which transfers ownership, instruct the necessary searches on the property and liaise with you about the transfer of funds.
On the date of entry, your solicitor will make payment for the property to the seller’s solicitor. In return, you will receive the keys for the property and the transfer documents are given to your solicitor. Normally, the date of entry will be several weeks after you have submitted an offer, but this can be influenced by a number of factors.
Completing your property purchase on the same day you complete the sale of your property in England may be possible, but will take some careful organisation. Your solicitor must have cleared funds to pay for the new property, which means you must complete and receive the funds for the property you are selling first, and have them transferred to your solicitor on time. Your solicitor will be able to advise you as to whether this will be possible.
Contact our Conveyancing Lawyers in Aberdeen & Edinburgh
At andersonbain, our conveyancing team have decades of experience and are available to help you with your next move. If you are thinking of buying a house in Scotland but currently live in England, or you would simply like more information about the conveyancing process, get in touch by calling the Aberdeen office on 01224 456 798, our Edinburgh office on 0131 228 2000 or completing the online enquiry form. We look forward to helping you.