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The purpose of this guide is to provide information about the legal aspects of the purchase of residential property in Scotland.

One of our strengths is helping first time buyers and those new to the Scottish property market.  We have considerable experience in assisting those unfamiliar with the process and are happy to explain every step and ensure you are kept up to date at all times.

If a purchaser is interested in the property he will usually view it first and then discuss making an offer with his solicitor.  Alternatively, a purchaser may ask his solicitor to ‘note his interest’ with the seller’s estate agent.  Early on, the solicitor will obtain the seller’s title deeds and check the boundaries, and that there are no unusual restrictions or conditions.

Home Report

The next step is for the purchaser and his solicitor to read through the Home Report, which is provided by the seller.  Sometimes, the buyer’s lenders need to instruct their own survey of the property in addition to the Home Report.

Once his lender has agreed to provide an offer of loan, the purchaser is in a position to enter negotiations for the purchase of the property. Depending on the amount of interest in the property the purchaser may either:

  • make an immediate offer for the property; or
  • make an offer at a closing date (if set by the seller).

If there is a closing date set all parties willing to offer will be advised that their offers have to be with the selling estate agents at a specified time on a particular date. It is then for the seller to decide which of the offers received he wishes to accept, if any. When a seller decides that an offer is to be accepted he instructs his solicitor to proceed with negotiating contract letters and to conclude missives (equivalent to exchanging contracts in England) which is the point of legal commitment for both buyer and seller.

The Missives

In Scotland the contract for the sale and purchase of property is contained in a series of formal letters known as Missives. The Missives commence with the offer submitted by the purchaser’s solicitor. In the event of the offer being acceptable to the seller his solicitor will generally telephone the purchaser’s solicitor to let him know this and follow it up in writing. It is rare for the seller’s solicitor to issue an unconditional acceptance of the offer, as the offer will contain a number of detailed items to which he will wish to respond. Generally the seller’s solicitor will indicate that the offer is accepted in principle but will make a number of qualifications to it. If these qualifications are acceptable to the purchaser he will issue a formal letter concluding the bargain. If the qualifications are not wholly acceptable it will be necessary for further formal letters to pass between the seller’s solicitor and the purchaser’s solicitor until agreement is reached and the bargain concluded. Only once all matters are agreed between the seller and the purchaser and a letter concluding the bargain has been issued is the contract between the seller and the purchaser legally binding.

The price and date of entry

The whole price is payable on the date of entry agreed. It is not normal practice in Scotland for the seller to ask for a deposit. It is the purchaser’s obligation to have the whole price available for the date of entry whether the funds are provided from private resources or by a lender. It is the seller’s obligation to provide the keys and vacant possession to the property on the date of entry and his solicitor will be instructed to deal with the conveyancing matters in time for that date.

This is only a brief guide to the services that your solicitor provides when you sell or purchase a house. We shall be pleased to deal with any further questions that you may have about selling or purchasing property in Scotland.  Please call us.