What are the differences between buying and selling property in Scotland and England?

26 September 2023

If you live in England, but are thinking of buying a property in Scotland, you may not know that there are several major differences in the home buying and selling processes between the two countries.

Scotland has a separate legal system from England, and while many things are similar, there are also many differences between the ways that the two systems work, especially when it comes to buying or selling property.

With many buyers in England thinking about relocating north of the border, it's important to understand how the buying and selling process differs in Scotland versus England, and to know what the process of what buying a home in Scotland is like.

Preparing to sell a property in Scotland versus England

Selling a property in Scotland is a more in-depth process than in England. Selling a home in Scotland means that, as the seller, you take more responsibility and the financial burden for listing your home for sale. Sellers will first engage a solicitor estate agent, who handles both the marketing and conveyancing of the property. The solicitor estate agent will commence work on the marketing of the property, arranging the photography, video tour, online listing and property brochure (also known as a property schedule).

They will also commission a document called a Home Report, which is a legal requirement in Scotland – properties cannot be listed for sale without a Home Report. The Home Report is paid for by the seller and is made available to all interested buyers. The Home Report includes a property survey, an energy efficiency certificate and a detailed homeowner’s questionnaire, plus an estimated property valuation, so that buyers can find out lots of information about the property before they commit to it.

Selling a property in Scotland is very different to selling a property in England, where sellers engage an estate agent who works on the marketing of the property, and will appoint a separate solicitor at a later date, when they have accepted an offer on their home. The only legal requirement of a seller in England is to order an EPC certificate for their home, which confirms the energy efficiency of the property.

In England, if a buyer wants to know more in-depth information about the condition of a property, they can generally order a survey after their offer has been accepted. This means that a buyer may find out concerning information about the property's condition only after having their offer accepted and paying for the survey, after which time they will need to decide whether to proceed with the purchase. However, many buyers opt to rely instead on the basic inspection that comes with their mortgage valuation report, to keep costs low. 

Marketing a property in Scotland versus England

If you're selling a home in Scotland, you would generally use a solicitor estate agent to sell your home – this means that the marketing and conveyancing is handled under one roof, which is generally quicker and more effective than in England, where sellers appoint separate estate agents and solicitors to handle different parts of the process.

You can search for a TSPC solicitor estate agent here.

If you're selling a home in England, properties are placed on the market with a negotiable asking price. Sometimes this is listed as a price bracket that the seller finds acceptable, or a specific price, but it’s very common for prices to be negotiated between buyer and seller prior to agreeing, and buyers may frequently pay less than the listed price.

Homes for sale in Scotland are generally placed on the market with either a fixed asking price, or an ‘offers over’ asking price, where it’s expected that the home will sell for anything up to 20% (and sometimes more) above this price, depending on the market.

Find out more about asking prices in Scotland here.

How do you make an offer on a property in Scotland versus England?

The way that buyers make offers on a property is very different in Scotland in comparison to England.

If you're buying a property in England, buyers make their offer directly to the estate agent, or even to the owner in some cases, and agree the price and any terms of the sale upfront.

Making an offer on a property in Scotland works in a different way. Buyers must appoint a Scottish solicitor in order to make an offer. Once a solicitor has been appointed, the buyer can choose to note their interest in the property, which means that they will be kept informed about any other offers or interested parties, or if a closing date has been set.

Alternatively, buyers can make an offer without noting interest, but this will be made via their solicitor, who submits a formal written offer to the seller’s agent.

Closing dates are more common when buying a property in Scotland, although 'best and final' bids are becoming more frequently used in England too.

A closing date is when all interested parties must submit a formal offer to the selling solicitor, along with proposed timescales and any other information they want to share, such as their buying position. The seller will then choose their preferred buyer – this may not always be the person who bid the most money. Following this, the seller’s solicitor issues a qualified acceptance letter, making the sale more secure.

‘Gazumping’, a familiar threat to those buying a home in England (when a person offers more money than the accepted bid, sometimes throwing the agreed sale into jeopardy) is less common when buying a home in Scotland, as when an offer is formally accepted on a property, it is taken off the market.

Paying stamp duty in Scotland versus England

Property tax applies in Scotland and England, however, they are different in nature and calculated differently depending on where you are buying a home. 

In England, stamp duty (Stamp Duty Land Tax, or SDLT) applies to properties priced at £125,000 and above, and increases proportionately to the value of the property, with different price bands in place.

In Scotland, SDLT was replaced in April 2015 with LBTT (Land and Buildings Transaction Tax), which applies to residential and commercial property purchases. LBTT is designed so that the charge is proportionate to the price of the property, with different percentage rates for each price band. Properties priced at £145,000 and under are exempt from LBTT payments, but for first-time buyers, this is increased to £175,000.

If you are buying a second home in Scotland, an Additional Dwelling Supplement may apply on top of LBTT.

Find out how much LBTT you will need to pay. 

What is the conveyancing process in Scotland versus England?

The conveyancing process in England is generally seen to be more stressful than its Scottish counterpart, mostly because it takes much longer for the agreed sale to be legally binding. In England, the exchange of contracts that makes a sale legally binding happens much closer to the completion of the sale, in most cases a week or two before the moving date. Until contracts are exchanged, either party can withdraw from the sale without penalty – this means it’s not unheard of for whole property chains to fall through close to the sale date, meaning the process can often be fraught with worry.

Buying in Scotland is very different, as instead of exchanging a single contract, solicitors will exchange a series of formal letters, known as ‘missives’. When the missives are concluded, the sale becomes legally binding. Generally this happens much sooner in the sales process, after which time the solicitor will finalise the legal work of transferring the property deeds to the new owner. After missives have concluded, the seller is legally bound to transfer ownership to the buyer – if they pull out, the buyer can claim damages, making this a very rare occurrence.

Find out more about the legal process when buying a home in Scotland.

What happens if you’re selling in England and buying in Scotland, or vice-versa?

If you’re selling a property in Scotland and buying a property in England, you will probably find the move to be less challenging than for someone making the reverse journey. Once missives have been concluded on the property for sale in Scotland, the binding contract allows you to move forward and complete the purchase of the property in England.

However, it isn’t possible to sell in England and buy a home in Scotland in one process. This is because the exchange of contracts doesn’t happen until close to completion of sale, meaning that buyers won’t be able to move on with the purchase of the Scottish property until very late in the process. If anyone in the chain of sale is unable to complete, this would affect the process and require a short-notice change of plans.

Something to be aware of, particularly if you are buying a flat in England, is the prevalence of leasehold properties instead of freehold. With freehold properties, you own the property and the land it sits on, but with leasehold, you own the property for a fixed period of time, but not the land it is built on. This often means an obligation to pay a ground rent or annual fees to the person who owns the freehold, and sometimes a fee to extend the lease if it is approaching 80 years left to run, which can be complicated and expensive. Lenders will often not loan for properties where the lease has less than 80 years, so this is something to watch out for. In Scotland, flats are more likely to be sold on a 'commonhold' basis, which means that each flat owner owns their freehold, and the 'common areas' (stairwells, entryways etc.) are looked after by a factor, a company to which each flat owner pays a fee for maintenance.

When buying a home in Scotland or England, if you are selling in the other at the same time, it is also worth noting that you would need to engage the services of two solicitors to complete your property purchases: one familiar with English property law, and one with Scottish property law.

Find out more

If you're interested in finding out more about buying or selling a property in Scotland, speak to one of our friendly solicitor estate agents.


Top 5 sales hotspots in Tayside: March - May 2024 2024-06-12 Affordable homes in Tayside: Four properties under 95,000 2024-06-11 Top 10 homes on TSPC in May 2024 2024-06-05 Emilie Gray: Home renovation story 2024-06-05 Gifted deposit guide: Helping your child buy a house 2024-05-29 TSPC Sales and Support Assistant 2024-05-28 4 newly listed bungalows in Tayside 2024-05-27 The most popular homes on tspc.co.uk in April 2024 2024-05-14 Help available for first-time buyers in Scotland 2024-05-13 TSPC Support First Time Buyers 2024-05-06 Four Stunning New Listings in North East Fife! 2024-05-01 Free Property Advice 2024-04-29 Everything you need to know about the LIFT scheme for first-time buyers 2024-04-26 Pounds for Primaries winners revealed 2024-04-22 The most popular homes on tspc.co.uk in March 2024 2024-04-04 TSPC House Price Report: January - March 2024 2024-04-04 TSPC Q1 Local Property Market Review 2024-03-28 What can you do if a property has serious issues? 2024-03-18 8 Newly listed bungalows in Dundee and Angus 2024-03-15 What are the new rules for gas boilers? 2024-03-05 The most viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in February 2024 2024-03-05 New Build Homes available on TSPC 2024-02-27 4 homes you will not believe cost less than 90k 2024-02-20 Getting to know Angela Wallace 2024-02-19 Top 10 most-viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in January 2024 2024-02-08 Save on LBTT: 4 Move-in ready homes exclusive to TSPC 2024-02-06 Premium Property: Explore the Timeless Elegance of Liff House 2024-01-29 Average selling prices: TSPC top searched locations of 2023 2024-01-24 TSPC House Price Report: October to December 2023 2024-01-18 The most viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in December 2023 2024-01-15


The 2023 Success of Dundee, Angus, and Perthshire's Property Markets 2023-12-28 The top ten most-viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in 2023 2023-12-22 Three recently listed terraced homes on TSPC 2023-12-20 Why selling your home for a fixed price isn't a bad thing 2023-12-06 Searching for a home renovation project? 2023-12-06 The most-viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in November 2023 2023-12-04 10 FREE Christmas Events in Dundee and Angus 2023-11-23 How TSPC's Property Information Centre can help your property search 2023-11-22 Unlocking value: 5 Fixed price properties in Tayside 2023-11-14 Three recently listed homes in the West End of Dundee 2023-11-10 Explore the top ten most viewed homes on TSPC in October 2023 2023-11-07 Unlock the right winter home selling price with TSPC's expert guidance 2023-10-18 Jargon Buster: Deeds 2023-10-12 First-time buyer feature: 3 affordable one-bedroom flats in Dundee listed at 70,000 and under 2023-10-11 First-time sellers guide 2023-10-11 Job Vacancy: TSPC Property Marketing Administrator 2023-10-06 TSPC House Price Report: July - September 2023 2023-10-05 The most-viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in September 2023 2023-10-04 TSPC Jargon Busters: Deposit 2023-10-02 Buying a property in Scotland: The legal process 2023-09-26 What are the differences between buying and selling property in Scotland and England? 2023-09-26 3 Recently Listed Angus Homes Perfect for Growing Families 2023-09-21 Bank of England Holds Interest Rates at 5.25% 2023-09-21 Why you shouldn't be scared of buying a doer-upper 2023-09-18 3 Two-Bedroom Properties in North-East Fife 2023-09-13 4 Two-Bedroom Flats Recently Listed in Central Dundee 2023-09-07 The top 10 most-viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in August 2023 2023-09-05 Newly listed: 3 properties for sale under 95,000 2023-08-31 4 Spacious four-bedroom homes for growing families 2023-08-23 Six attractive bungalows across Dundee and Angus 2023-08-16 Selling Your Home in Scotland: The Benefits of Choosing a Solicitor Estate Agent 2023-08-15 Five TSPC homes featuring beautiful gardens 2023-08-11 Bank of England Raise Interest Rates to 5.25% 2023-08-03 The most-viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in July 2023 2023-08-03 5 Properties with a recent price change 2023-08-02 Three unusual development listings currently on TSPC 2023-07-26 Recently remarketed: Another chance to make one of these 5 homes yours 2023-07-19 How to add value to your home 2023-07-10 6 properties for sale at 130,000 or under 2023-07-10 The most viewed homes on tspc.co.uk in June 2023 2023-07-05 TSPC House Price Report: April-June 2023 2023-07-05 Your common questions about moving home answered 2023-07-03 TSPC Jargon Buster: Date of Entry 2023-06-30 TSPC Jargon Buster: Closing Date 2023-06-07 Retirement homes in Dundee and Angus 2023-06-07 Explore the homes that made it to the top ten most viewed on TSPC for May 2023 2023-06-05 Area focus: Living in Broughty Ferry 2023-05-26 What can you buy for less than the average property price? 2023-05-17 Five coastal homes for sale right now with TSPC 2023-05-15 What is a Note of Interest? 2023-05-08 See inside the top ten most-viewed homes on TSPC for April 2023 2023-05-08 TSPC Jargon Buster: Property Chain 2023-04-25 How to choose the right location for your new home 2023-04-24 Prepare your garden to sell before summer 2023-04-21 What happens at a home valuation? 2023-04-14 House Price Report March 2023 2023-04-12 Most viewed homes of March 2023 2023-04-11 How to choose the right family home 2023-04-10 Property Spotlight: Five family homes in Dundee, Angus and North Fife 2023-04-10 TSPC Jargon Buster: Building Survey 2023-03-31 Budgeting for other costs of buying your first home 2023-03-28 Why you should use a solicitor estate agent when moving home 2023-03-28 Everything you need to know about selling a property in spring 2023-03-17 TSPC top ten most-viewed homes of February 2023 2023-03-16 Five First Time Buyer Homes in Dundee and Angus 2023-03-16 Household bills you will pay as a homeowner 2023-03-13 Everything you need to know about an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) 2023-03-09 TSPC Jargon Buster: Asking Price 2023-03-06 How to prepare your home to sell in spring 2023-02-20 Buy-to-let property FAQs 2023-02-16 Tips for living in a small space 2023-02-16 The importance of getting a reliable property valuation 2023-02-14 TSPC top ten most-viewed homes of January 2023 2023-02-08 TSPC Jargon Buster: Agreement in Principle 2023-02-03 Is it best to sell my home before buying my next property? 2023-01-26 Promising start to the property market in 2023 2023-01-25 Understanding Your Property's Value 2023-01-23 The Selling Process in Scotland 2023-01-18 Getting ready to buy a home in 2023 2023-01-13 Top tips for saving a deposit! 2023-01-09


Top 10 most-viewed homes of 2022 2022-12-29 Benefits of using a solicitor estate agent 2022-12-29 What do the changes to property tax announced in the Scottish budget mean? 2022-12-19 Using a Home Report When Buying a Property 2022-12-15 TSPC reveals the top 11 most-viewed homes in November 2022-12-09 Most Common Property Questions Answered 2022-12-07 Everything you need to know about LBTT before the Scottish Budget 2022-12-01 The Buying Process in Scotland 2022-11-30 A step by step guide to buying a home 2022-11-27 Why you should use a mortgage adviser when buying a property 2022-11-22 Deposit - What does it mean? 2022-11-15 What will be the impact of another interest rates rise on the property market? 2022-11-10 What do solicitor estate agents think of the current economic climate? 2022-10-31 Why is Moving Stressful? 2022-10-26 Selling this Autumn? Here's Our Top Tips! 2022-10-18 What the Recent Changes to Interest Rates Means for the Property Market 2022-10-11 Buying a Property with Potential 2022-10-05 Deciding Whether to Manage your Own Rental Property 2022-09-29 What Rising Interest Rates Mean for the Housing Market 2022-09-23 Buying a Property With a Friend 2022-09-22 How To Make Your Property Stand Out From the Crowd 2022-09-15 What is Conveyancing? 2022-09-04 The Benefits of Dual Occupancy Homes 2022-09-03 The Do's and Don'ts When Viewing a Property 2022-09-03 Getting Ready to Remortgage - Everything You Need to Know 2022-08-22 Conveyancing 2022-08-17 Property Turnoffs and How They Can Affect Your Property's Value 2022-08-10 How Can I Add Value to My Kitchen? 2022-08-05 How Can Buyers Gain an Edge in a Busy Market? 2022-08-04 A Guide to Understanding EPC Certificates 2022-07-26 What To Expect From a Property Valuation 2022-07-22 Speeding Up the Conveyancing Process 2022-07-18 Housing Market Predictions 2022-07-07 How Does an EPC Rating Affect My Mortgage? 2022-07-04 Overpaying a Mortgage 2022-06-17 What Happens as a Home Valuation? 2022-06-09 What is a Closing Date? 2022-06-03 Here's What You Need to Know About Downsizing 2022-05-30 What Does 'Property Chain' Mean? 2022-05-26 Why You Need the Right Insurance When Taking Out a Mortgage 2022-05-24 Staging Your Home for Selling 2022-05-17 Buying a House in Cash 2022-05-10 The Selling Process in Scotland 2022-05-05 Strongest Ever Spring Sellers' Market 2022-05-03 How Will the Cost of Living Crisis Affect the Property Market? 2022-04-22 A Guide To Buying a House or Flat in Scotland 2022-04-18 Thinking of Buying an Investment Property? Here's What You Need to Know 2022-04-12 What's Happened to the Property Market Since Covid-19? 2022-04-06 Energy-Saving Tips For Your Home 2022-04-01 Understanding Your Property's Value 2022-03-28 Why It's Best To Sell Your Home Before Buying Your Next Property 2022-03-24 The Differences Between Buying and Selling Property in Scotland and England 2022-03-21 The Differences That Come with Using a Solicitor Estate Agent 2022-03-16 Want To Sell Your Home Fast? Here's Our Top Tips! 2022-03-10 Fixed Rate or Variable - What's the Best Mortgage? 2022-03-08 Building Survey's - What are they? 2022-03-03 Questions every first-time buyer should ask! 2022-03-01 What Is Required for a Successful Mortgage Application? 2022-02-22 Your Offers Been Accepted - What Happens Next? 2022-02-15 Joint Property Ownership - Everything you need to know 2022-02-09 Mortgages in 2022 - What Could Happen? 2022-02-05 4 Tips for Saving a Deposit 2022-02-01 Reminder - The Law on Fire Alarms is Changing 2022-01-25 The 2022 Scottish Property Market - What Will Happen? 2022-01-21 Top Mortgage Tips for First Time Buyers 2022-01-18 What's the difference in using a solicitor estate agent? 2022-01-11


How the Scottish Housing Market has Changed Over the Last 50 Years 2021-12-27 Can I Get a Mortgage Without Permanent Residency? 2021-12-20 Property Conversion - Everything You Need to Know 2021-12-15 Asking Price - Everything You Need to Know 2021-12-06 What is Shared Ownership? 2021-11-24 What You Need To Know About Getting a Mortgage When You're Self-Employed 2021-11-19 So, What Is a Mortgage Agreement in Principle? 2021-11-08 Why You Should Use a Solicitor Estate Agent When Moving House 2021-11-03 Thinking of buying a listed property? Here's what you should know 2021-10-26 Everything You Need to Know About EPC Registers and Certificate Guides 2021-10-25 How much can I afford to borrow? 2021-10-20 Nine Steps to Selling Your Home 2021-10-18 Climbing the Property Ladder 2021-10-11 Fire Alarm Laws are Changing in Scotland 2021-09-27 Research You Should Conduct Before Buying a Property 2021-09-20 The LIFT Scheme and How You Can Use It To Buy a Home 2021-09-17 The Latest Scottish Government Guidance on Property Viewings 2021-09-10 NORMAL SERVICE BEING RESUMED IN A BUOYANT HOMES MARKET 2021-08-31 Should You Refurbish Your Property? 2021-08-18 Preparing Your Home for a Successful Sale 2021-08-13 Mortgage Interest Rates - What are they? 2021-08-09 Helping You Consider the Right Location for Your Next Move 2021-07-26 Tips For First Time Buyers To Help Get Them on the Property Ladder 2021-07-19 Scotland's First Home Fund is Closed, What Other Schemes Can Help First Time Buyers? 2021-07-12 Retirement Interest Only Mortgages - What You Need To Know 2021-07-07 How the UK Mortgage Market Has Changed Due to Coronavirus 2021-06-30 How To Boost Your Mortgage Deposit 2021-06-21 New Rules For Fire and Smoke Alarms in Homes Across Scotland 2021-06-17 Preparing To Put Your House on the Market in 5 Key Steps 2021-06-14 How Much Mortgage Can I Get For My Salary? 2021-06-09 Is Your House Ready to be Sold?: House Selling Checklist 2021-05-31 What is a Mortgage Agreement in Principle? 2021-05-25 All You Need To Know About EPC Registers and Certificates 2021-05-19 Making the Most of House Viewings 2021-05-12 How the Coronavirus Pandemic has Changed the Priorities of Scottish Home Buyers 2021-05-05 Top Tips on Preparing to Buy a House 2021-04-26 What You Need To Know About Overpaying a Mortgage 2021-04-21 Advice on Buying a Property During the Covid-19 Pandemic 2021-04-14 How the UK Mortgage Market Has Changed Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic 2021-04-13 Scotland's First Home Fund: Applications Now Closed 2021-04-09 Scotland's First Home Fund 2021-04-07 Scottish Stamp Duty Holiday: How Did LBTT Change and When Did it End? 2021-04-06 Property Questions Answered 2021-04-02


Tayside housing market back with a bang 2020-12-10 Digital Guide 2020-05-27


The property market across Scotland - Quarter Two 2019 by SPC Scotland 2019-10-16 LORD PROVOST OPENS NEW-LOOK CENTRE 2019-09-17 The Dundee property market 2019-06-24 A 427 MILLION BOOST FOR THE HOMES MARKET 2019-01-21





©2000 to 2024 TSPC Holdings Limited and its licensees. All rights reserved. The content on this page is protected by intellectual property laws. Your use of this website is subject to our Terms of Use.

TSPC is the trading name of TSPC Holdings Limited, a limited liability company registered in Scotland No 279747 and Tayside Solicitors Property Centre Limited, a limited liability company registered in Scotland No 279746. The Registered Office of both Companies is 11 Whitehall Crescent, Dundee DD1 4AR.

About | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Cookies

Design: Plexus Media Ltd, Inverness | Credits | Switch off 2024 CSS