Buying a house in Scotland is a little different to buying a house in England and Wales. Most notably, solicitors in Scotland play a much bigger role in the selling of the house you’re trying to buy. Many carry out the role of estate agents, helping to market the property as well as looking after the legal work.
Broadly speaking, the process for buying a house in Scotland is:
- Find a solicitor
First things first, you’ll need to source a solicitor before you can make an offer on a property. Solicitors in Scotland can help you arrange the mortgage, survey and insurance for your home, but their main duty is to carry out all the legal work.
- Find a property
Now you can move on to the exciting part: the house hunt. Once you’ve found a property you’re interested in buying, you’ll need to notify your solicitor who will then formally make a ‘note of interest’ with the seller’s solicitor/estate agent. Doing so ensures that you’re kept in the loop with the closing date for accepting offers and any other developments in the process.
- Submitting searches
Your solicitor will submit searches through property and personal registers to ensure there are no issues that could prevent the seller from withdrawing the sale. They’ll also contact the local authority to determine whether there are any planning issues that could affect the value of the property.
- Home Report
Before sellers can put their house on the market, they need to have commissioned a Home Report. You’ll need to ask your solicitor for this once you’ve found a house you’re interested in buying. The seller is required to give you a copy of this within nine calendar days of you asking for it. The Home Report includes the following:
- The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – Showing how energy efficient the property is.
- A survey and valuation – This is an assessment of the property’s condition, detailing where repairs are needed. Some may also include a valuation of the property.
- Property questionnaire – Sellers will need to give details on the running of the property such as the Council Tax band, parking, history of flooding, alterations to the property or any planning proposals made. The questionnaire should factor in any arrangements for covering repairs and maintenance.
Make sure you read through the Home Report carefully as it will give you a good overview on how much your house will cost to run.
- Get a mortgage in principle
You’ll need to get a ‘mortgage in principle’ from a mortgage lender before you can proceed. Once you have this in place, your lender will sort out a valuation on the property to make sure it’s worth the price you’ve offered to pay.
- Making an offer
Providing everything’s OK with the valuation, you can make an offer. Your solicitor will do this on your behalf in a formal letter.
A closing date for all offers will be announced once the seller’s solicitor has received notification of interest from two or more buyers. Scotland uses a sealed-bids system, which means you won’t know what anyone else has bid. You can only bid once, so think very carefully about the offer you are going to make.
- If your offer is accepted, your seller’s solicitor will issue what’s known as ‘qualified acceptance’. This means the house is yours, subject to contract. Agreeing the contract
Once everything has been agreed, the two solicitors will swap letters to formalise the contract and the date of entry. This is known as ‘concluding the missives’. It’s at this point that the contract becomes legally binding, so neither of you can back out. Withdrawing your offer at this point can result in significant penalties.
The sale will be officially completed on the ‘date of entry’, which is the date the money for the sale is transferred from your lender to the seller’s mortgage lender or bank. Your solicitor will take care of this and subtract any fees you owe.
Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4Lawyers’ online information alone.