How to buy a home in Scotland

20th June 2023
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A question we are asked frequently is 'how do you buy a home in Scotland?' as the process here is different to that in England and Wales, so we thought we'd put together this easy step-by-step guide.


Get your finances in place.  If you are a cash buyer that's great, you're ready to start looking, but if you do require finance now is the time to get a mortgage in principle.  This is an agreement in principle from a lender that they will lend you a certain amount of money to buy a property. This will give you an idea of how much you can afford to borrow and will speed up the buying process when you find a property you want to buy.


Find a property.  You can do this by searching online, using estate agents like us, or by word of mouth. Once you've found a property you like, read the home report and then make an appointment to view it.


Make an offer. Once you've viewed a property and decided you would like to proceed with buying it, you will need to make an offer to the selling agent.


Negotiate the price. The seller may accept your offer, or they may come back with a counter offer. Occasionally, you may need to go back and forth with offers and counter offers until you agree on a price.


Instruct a Scottish solicitor. Once you've agreed on a price, you need to instruct a Scottish solicitor to submit a formal offer to the estate agent, who will in turn forward that to the sellers solicitor. 


Complete your mortgage application.  If you require finance, now is the time to go back to the lender that provided you with a mortgage in principle to submit the full mortgage application relating to this particular property.


Missives.  Your solicitor and the sellers' solicitor will send each other a series of letters called 'missives'. These letters are used to negotiate the conditions you and the buyer have, so you can both come to an agreement. Once you're both happy with the conditions, a 'concluding missive' will be written. This is a binding contract between you and the buyer.


Conveyancing.  After the missives have been sent and a deal has been agreed, your solicitor will start the 'conveyancing'.  This means they will go through the legal process that transfers ownership of the home from the buyer to you.  As part of this, your solicitor will inspect the deeds to the property, check boundaries, details of ownership, and will ensure there are no unusual conditions and that you are aware of any burdens in the deeds.


Disposition.  One of the final steps in the process is the 'disposition', which is a contract written up by you, the buyer's, solicitor.  This is a legal document that transfers ownership of the home to the buyer.  


Settlement.  Just before the settlement (the day you become the owner of the property), the seller will sign the disposition and arrange handing over the keys.  On the day of settlement, your solicitor will arrange for funds to be transferred to the seller's solicitor.


Keys.  The seller's solicitor will notify us once the funds have been received and we are able to release the keys to you.


Move In! Congratulations - all that is left to do is to move in to your new home and make it your own.


The process from start to finish can take considerably less time in Scotland than other areas of the UK, we would normally expect the process to take between 4 to 9 weeks, provided everything progressed smoothly.  


Most people find the system in Scotland relatively straightforward, offering more security once missives have been concluded which can also be particularly useful when in a chain.  The home report, prepared by a chartered surveyor, also provides you with concise information about the condition and value of the property from the outset.


If we could offer any advice it would be to get a clear understanding of your budget before searching for properties, an idea of what you are looking for, and possibly even more importantly what would make any property a 'no, no'.


If you're thinking about buying a property in the Highlands of Scotland get in touch with us at Monster Moves.  As a local, independent agency, we all live in the local area, we know the communities in which we sell properties and we love talking about where we live!

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