Buying a property in Scotland: The legal process
26 September 2023
The legal element of a property purchase or sale is known as conveyancing. It is basically how the contract is created which transfers the ownership of a property from one person to another. This is done by a series of letters being exchanged, commonly known as missives.
The stages explained
1. Making an offer
As a buyer, your solicitor will make a formal written offer to the seller’s solicitor which will include the name of the purchaser, the property address, the price, date of entry, items to be included in the sale and other legal terms. It normally also includes a time limit for acceptance.
2. Accepting the offer
After discussing the offer with the seller, the seller’s solicitor will offer a Qualified Acceptance, where some of the offer conditions are amended and title deeds and other relevant papers are provided to the buyer’s solicitors for examination. This will include a search of the Land Register showing that there is nothing legally preventing the sellers from selling the property.
At this stage it is important to be working on getting your mortgage approved. We’d always recommend having a decision in principle as soon as you start your house hunt. This can make the mortgage application process run more quickly and smoothly.
3. Concluding the missives
Once both parties’ solicitors are happy the contracts can be concluded, known as conclusion of missives. The buyer’s solicitor will request mortgage funds from the buyer’s mortgage provider when appropriate. As a buyer, you will be asked to transfer any additional funds to a specific bank account (your deposit payment for example) ahead of the Date of Entry.
4. Date of entry
On this date the buyer’s solicitor will pay the agreed amount to the seller’s solicitor. The selling solicitor will also provide paperwork to the buyer’s solicitor on this day. When the buyer’s solicitor is happy with the paperwork and the seller’s solicitor is happy that the funds have been received, the transaction is settled. This will be the date that you move out or move in to the property.
5. After date of entry
Your solicitor will now complete the last stages of the paperwork. Land Registers will be informed of the change of ownership and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax will be paid, if applicable.