A Guide To Buying a House or Flat in Scotland
18 April 2022
If you are looking to buy your next, or potentially first, home in Scotland but are unsure of the process, we’re here to help!
To help you find your next home in the current climate, we look at what is involved in the property buying procedure and some commonly asked questions about the buying process in Scotland.
The buying process in Scotland
1.Find a solicitor to represent you
Did you know that in Scotland you require a solicitor to buy a property? However, solicitor estate agents can take care of the buying process for you and will also be able to help with the selling process of your property, if you are selling a home in Scotland.
2.Work out your mortgage options
Whether you are moving home or buying your first time, you need to work out what your budget is for a new home. It’s always worth seeking independent mortgage advice to work out your mortgage options, from how much you’ll be able to borrow to if you’re able to port your mortgage if you already have one.
If you already own a property, you should get a property valuation from an agent as that will give you an idea of what your home is likely to sell for, and therefore inform how much you can spend on a new home.
When you consider your financial situation, make sure to factor in other costs such as removals and Land and Building Transaction Tax.
3.Search houses and flats for sale
After you have decided on a budget, it’s time to find your new home. Use TSPC’s website to explore potential areas that may work for you. Once you have decided on an area or areas you are interested in, make a list of requirements you have for a property and work out which ones are must-haves and those you could live without.
Once you have identified some houses or flats you are interested in, you will likely want to view them to see if they’re right for you.
As of Monday 21st March 2022, all legal requirements regarding Covid-19, except for face coverings, were removed by the Scottish Government. This meant that the specific Covid-19 guidance on home moves was removed.
Therefore, in person viewings are now allowed from the offset. However, the Scottish Government still advises that all parties involved in home buying and selling should agree to be as flexible as possible to accommodate any changes in circumstances, such as positive cases and self-isolation.
5.Submit a note of interest and make an offer
If you have decided you like a property enough to make an offer, you should alert your solicitor so they can submit a note of interest in the property.
Submitting a note of interest doesn’t commit you to anything but does register your formal interest in the property. If more than one note of interest has been made, the seller can set a closing date – all offers must be in by then. However, a seller is not obligated to set a closing date and can accept an offer at any time.
6.Finalise your mortgage
After you’ve made an offer that’s been accepted, you not need to get your mortgage approved. If you already have an agreement in principle, this stage should be easier. You need to figure out exactly how much you need to borrow and how much of a deposit you can pu down. An independent mortgage adviser can help with this.
7.Conclude the missives
After your offer has been accepted, the conveyancing process begins. If your offer is verbally accepted, your solicitor will discuss the acceptance with you and negotiate on your behalf with the seller’s solicitor.
The offer, acceptance and any subsequent letters, which are intended to be part of a legal contract, are known as “missives”.
When the final acceptance letter is issued, missives are said to be “concluded”, this means the purchases and seller have entered into a legally binding contract and cannot withdraw from it without penalty.
Your solicitor will advise you when the missives are concluded and send you a copy of the full contract.
Your moving date or date of entry will have been previously agreed in advance. This is also the date that the transaction will be settled. The purchase price is paid to the seller’s solicitor in exchange for the disposition (the legal document that will transfer ownership of the property from seller to purchaser), title deeds, other documents and the keys to the property.
Once moved in, if there are any issues with the property you have five working days to notify your solicitor.
And once that’s all done, you can celebrate your new home!
Here’s some commonly asked questions that often arise during the buying process
What is LBTT and how much will it cost?
Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT) is a property tax in Scotland. It replaced Stamp Duty from 1st April 2015.
How much property tax you’ll be required to pay in Scotland depends on the value of the home, whether you’re a first-time buyer, and if you are purchasing the house or flat as a second home or buy-to-let (an Additional Dwelling Supplement of 4% applies to most second homes).
Can I pull out of a property purchase in Scotland?
An offer isn’t legally binding until the missives have been concluded. If you want to withdraw your offer before this point, you should alert your solicitor and seek their advice.
Once the missives have been concluded, neither seller or buyer can withdraw without facing penalties.