The Scottish system of house purchase is widely admired, mainly because of the degree of certainty that it offers to both parties. Both the buyer and the seller should enter into a binding contract at a much earlier stage than other jurisdictions such as England. As your solicitors, we can help you make the most out of the house purchase system.
It’s never too early to call your solicitor. Even before you have looked at any houses, we would welcome an opportunity to discuss your requirements with you. At that stage we can give you advice on price ranges, property types and the current property market.
When you see a house that you may wish to offer for, it is important that you let us know as soon as possible. We can then note your interest with the selling agents. The noting of interest is an important step as it should ensure that you are kept informed of any potential interest in the property and allow you to offer should there be a closing date. Once you have had a chance to look at the home report (which includes a survey, valuation and property questionnaire, see http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/BuyingSelling/Home-Report for full details) and satisfied yourself on this we can help you progress your interest by offering.
We will prepare and sign the formal written offer on your behalf, and the main points on which we would require your instructions are the price, the date of entry and any moveable items, ect. included in the sale. the formal offer will also contain quite a number of technical conditions.
The offer and all of its conditions could be accepted outright by the seller – the offer would then be binding on both parties. More usually, some of the technical conditions in the offer will not be immediately acceptable to the seller. In those circumstances the seller’s solicitor would offer a qualified acceptance, accepting some of the conditions in the offer, and rejecting of modifying others. The exchange of formal letters between solicitors – the missives – will continue until all of the conditions have been agreed and the bargain concluded. If it is not in the missives, it is not in the contract, and it is therefore essential that you tell your solicitor when they are preparing the formal offer if there are any special conditions that you wish to include.
Before a formal offer is submitted the purchaser must be sure that they will have the purchase price available for payment on the date of entry. If all or part of the sale price is coming from the sale of another property, the availability of a bridging loan may need to be considered. It is unusual in Scotland for any payment of a deposit or part of the purchase price to be made prior to the date of entry.
The conveyancing includes an examination of the title deeds (to ensure that the seller really has a good title, that there are no undisclosed securities and that there are no unusual title conditions or restrictions) and preparation of the Disposition – the title deed in your favour. Most titles in Scotland are feudal – broadly equivalent to freehold – with very few lease titles. If it has not been dealt with during the missives, the local authority property certificates would be examined to check position regarding the local authority responsibilities, such as roads and sewers. If the house is relatively new or changes have been made, the planning permission, building warrant and completion certificate would be checked.
As the date of entry approaches, we would obtain your loan from your lender and make arrangements with you to put us in funds for the balance of the purchase price. We would also look for payment of outlays such as Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) at that time.
The date of entry is when the price is paid over to the seller’s solicitor in exchange for the keys and the title deed in your favour. Any Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) would be paid and the Disposition would then be recorded in the Land Register in Edinburgh, along with any Standard Security, to complete the transfer of the title.
Our aim is to carry out all the necessary steps to ensure that your purchase is completed as smoothly as possible. In addition to the main steps which we have outlined, we are happy to provide an estimate of expenses or outlays involved with any transaction, to cover our fees and outlays such as Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Recording Dues.