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How to sell a house in Scotland

Selling a home in Scotland is different to selling in England and Wales. For a start, solicitors take a more active role and buyers make sealed offers. Once you’ve accepted an offer your solicitor would be disciplined by the Law Society of Scotland if you decided to go with a different one.

To sell your house in Scotland you need to:

  1. Put your property on the market through a solicitor/estate agent.
  2. Arrange a Home Report.
  3. Fix a closing date for offers.
  4. Accept an offer.
  5. Conclude the missives (documents containing any conditions to the sale/purchase).
  6. Agree on a date of entry (hand-over day).

In Scotland, there are no chains because you’re obliged to commit to the purchase one the missives. It can take a little longer to get the sale, but once the offer is agreed, the sale should be straightforward.

Before you start: Preparing to sell

Before you consider selling, it’s a good idea to estimate your moving costs so you know you can afford it. Work out all the expenses associated with moving, such as legal fees, estate agent fees, removal van and so on, so that you’re not greeted with any nasty surprises later down the line.

  1. Market the property

The first step is to put your property on the market. If you’re looking to save money, you could advertise the house yourself, but the traditional route is to use an estate agent or solicitors.

Some Scottish solicitor firms who deal with residential conveyancing also double up as estate agents. Using this kind of estate agent can help to speed up the process as it removes the hassle of having to source a separate solicitor.

  1. Arrange a Home Report

It’s a legal requirement in Scotland to arrange a Home Report before you’re allowed to market your property. If you’ve hired an estate agent or solicitor, they will be responsible for putting this together for you. A Home Report must be completed with the help of a chartered surveyor and contains three main documents:

  • Energy Performance Certificate – This is an assessment of the property’s energy efficiency.
  • Survey and valuation – These detail the condition of the property as well as an estimation of its true value.
  • Property questionnaire – This is where you outline key information such as the council tax band and issues that could affect the property – i.e. if it has a history of flooding, had fire damage, whether there have been alterations or extensions to the home, any notices that affect the property, and so on. You should also mention any arrangements for covering repairs and maintenance.

The Home Report should be no more than 12 weeks old when the property is put on the market. If it is older, you may need to get another survey done, to make sure the valuation is up to date.

  1. Fixing a closing date

If several people formally notify your solicitor they are interested in your property, you’ll be able to fix a closing date. This is a time and date by which all offers must be made.

Offers are usually sent to your solicitor containing the price being offered, the date of entry (the day the purchaser can pay you for the property) and any other conditions specified by the buyer. For example, they might list ‘subject to survey’, which means they’ll only agree to purchase your home if the survey is satisfactory.

  1. Accepting the offer

Once you’re happy with an offer, you’ll accept it through your solicitor, who will issue a letter known as a ‘qualified acceptance’. This means you’ll accept on the condition that your solicitor and the buyer’s solicitor agree on all the details. It’s not legally binding at this stage, so either you or the buyer could still pull out of the sale. However, doing so could cost you more time and money – you’ll need to have a valid reason for withdrawing from the sale.

During this process, both solicitors will exchange ‘missives’ which is the exchanging of all letters and documents detailing any conditions of the acceptance, e.g. fixtures and fittings that the sale includes. This will carry on until both parties reach an agreement.

  1. Concluding the missives

Once all conditions have been agreed, the missives will be signed and the offer formalised – this is known as ‘concluding the missives’. The contract now becomes legally binding. At this point, neither of you can back out of the sale.

Your solicitor will then carry out the legal work such as transferring the ownership of the house from you to the buyer.

  1. Date of entry

You’ll then be given an official ‘date of entry’; the date when you’ll receive payment for the property and hand over your keys. The buyer’s solicitor will handle the transfer, ensuring the payment is arranged to your solicitor on that date.

If you’ve got a mortgage on the property, your solicitor will transfer this payment to your mortgage lender. Any leftover money will be transferred to you, minus solicitor’s fees and any other expenses.

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.

Updated:  February 2018