Brief guide to buying property in Scotland

In Scotland an offer for a house has to be in writing.  A verbal offer to a potential seller, even though a seller has indicated that it would be accepted, is not binding.  An offer is not binding until accepted in writing outright.

An initial offer has a great number of conditions but it is unlikely that these conditions will be accepted outright.  This means that it is likely that a qualified acceptance will be sent to us by the seller’s agents making alterations to our offer and it is only when those alterations are accepted by us that a concluded bargain is reached.  If, however, we consider that those qualifications cannot be accepted and we make further amendments thereto it is only when a final letter of acceptance is received that the missives (that is, the contract for the purchase) is complete and binding upon both parties.  You will notice that we sign these letters on your behalf. The concluded series of letters are the missives of sale.

The seller’s agents will send us the title deed for the property and it is our obligation on your behalf to examine these titles to ensure that all aspects of the seller’s title are in order so that when you come to sell, no issue can be taken with any aspect of the title.  If your survey report reveals that there have been alterations to the property then we would also check that aspect out for you and ensure that appropriate consents are in place.  We will, therefore, require to be provided with a copy of the survey report.   If you are not obtaining a loan it is still important to obtain a survey as the principle “buyer beware” applies, that is, you buy the subjects as you have seen them.

If you are obtaining a loan the purchase cannot proceed until we receive your loan papers.  You have to ensure that your loan is in place and that loan papers are sent to us by your lender in good time for us to peruse the offer of loan and make sure that all the lending conditions can be met and that there is sufficient time before the date of entry to order up your loan funds.

When the offer of loan is received and the titles have been received we prepare security papers for you to sign in connection with the loan.  Generally there will be what is called a Standard Security, which is a Mortgage Deed. We also explain the title to you and assist you to sign the loan papers.

Nearer the time of settlement, known in Scotland as the date of entry, we ask you to provide us with any balance of the purchase price that is required together with our own fees and the outlays, such as Stamp Duty and Land Registration fees that we have to pay on your behalf at settlement of the transaction.  Generally we would wish this a week in advance to clear any cheque or alternatively we would let you know our bank details so that you could electronically transfer the funds to us.

At settlement we will have asked you to complete a Land Transaction Return and when we receive the Land Transaction certificate we will register your Title. After the registration procedures are completed the titles are generally kept by your lenders, if you have one.

Please watch the following video for further information about buying a house in Scotland.