The Differences Between Buying and Selling Property in Scotland and England

21 March 2022

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

 

Scotland has a different legal system compared to England, and while many things are similar, there are many differences between the way the two systems work, especially when it comes to buying or selling property.

 

Preparing to sell a property in Scotland versus England

 

Selling a property in Scotland is a more in-depth process compared to in England, with sellers taking more responsibility and the financial burden for listing their home. Sellers will first engage a solicitor estate agent, who will handle both the marketing and conveyancing of the property. The solicitor estate agent will then commence work on the marketing of the property, arranging photography, video tour, online listing and property brochure (also known as a schedule).

 

They will then commission a Home Report, which is a legal requirement in Scotland. Properties cannot be listed for sale without a Home Report, these are paid for by the seller, and is made available to all who are interested in buying the property. 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 discover lots of information about the property before they commit to it.

 

This process is very different to England, where sellers engage an estate agent who works on the marketing of the property, and will appoint a separate solicitor later, once 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 their property’s energy efficiency rating. 

 

In England, if a buyer wants to know more in-depth information about the condition of a property, they can order a survey after their offer has been accepted. This means that a buyer may only find out concerning information about the property’s condition only after having their offer accepted, after which time they will need to decide whether to proceed with the purchase. 

 

Marketing a property in Scotland versus England

 

Sellers generally use a solicitor estate agent in Scotland to sell their 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.

 

In England, properties are listed 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 a price to be negotiated between buyer and seller prior to agreeing, and buyers may frequently pay less than the listed price.

 

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

 

Making an offer on a property in Scotland versus England

 

The way buyers make an offer on a property is very different in Scotland compared to England. 

 

In England, buyers can make their offer directly to the estate agent or even, in some cases, the owner and agree the price and any terms of the sale upfront.

 

Making an offer on a property in Scotland is different. 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 they will be informed of any other offers or interested parties, or if a closing date is 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 in Scotland, although ‘best and final’ bids are becoming more frequently used in England as well.

 

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 priorities priced at £125,000 and above, and increases proportionately to the value of the property, with different price bands in place.

 

Whereas in Scotland, SDLT was replaced in 2015 with LBTT (Land and Building 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.

 

The conveyancing process in Scotland versus England

 

The conveyancing process in England is commonly seen as more stressful compared to the system used in Scotland. Mostly due to it taking 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 weeks before the moving date. Until contracts are exchanged, either party can withdraw from the sale without penalty – this means it is not unheard of for the whole property chains to fall through close to the sale date, meaning the process can often be fraught with worry.

 

Whereas in Scotland, instead of exchanging a single contract, solicitors will exchange a series of formal letters, known as ‘missives’. As soon as the missives are concluded, the sale becomes legally binding. Usually, 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.

 

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

 

If you are selling a property in Scotland and buying a property in England, you will probably find the process less challenging than making the reverse journey. Once the missives have been concluded on the property 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 single process. This is because the exchange of contracts doesn’t happen till much closer to the completion of the sale, meaning buyers won’t be able to move on with the purchase of the Scottish property until very late in the process. 

 

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

2022

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2021

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 Using a Home Report When Buying a Property 2021-11-29 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 How Long Does it Take to Buy Your First House or Flat? 2021-06-02 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

2020

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

2019

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

2018

Budget Proposals to the ADS Rate 2018-12-18 BUYING OR SELLING GET THE FACTS 2018-08-24 BUYING INTO LIFE ON THE WATERFRONT 2018-08-23 As moving day looms dont panic just prep 2018-05-17 THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS FOR HOMEBUYERS 2018-04-03 HOME COMFORTS FEND OFF BEAST FROM THE EAST 2018-03-07 V&A DATE MILESTONE FOR THE WATERFRONT 2018-03-02 FLAT SALES EDGE TOWARDS £100 MILLION 2018-01-23 PROPERTY SALES PUSH TOWARDS THE £440 MILLION MARK 2018-01-08

2017

FESTIVE GREETINGS FROM ALL AT THE TSPC 2017-12-19 PUTTING DUNDEE ON THE MAP 2017-11-15 TIME TO BRING YOUR HOME TO THE MARKET 2017-11-01 AUTUMN IS A GOOD SEASON FOR SELLING 2017-10-17 HIGH PROFILE OPTION FOR TOP PROPERTIES 2017-10-09 MARKETING YOUR PROPERTY TO THE MAX 2017-08-21 DO YOU LIKE TO BE BESIDE THE SEA? 2017-06-15 TIME LOOMING FOR A RE-MORTGAGE 2017-06-09 HAS THERE BEEN A BETTER TIME FOR A HOUSE SALE 2017-05-26 TIME TO PUT YOUR FLAT ON THE MARKET 2017-05-04

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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.

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