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Buy a House in Scotland

How to Buy a House in Scotland: A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether you're moving from elsewhere in the UK or already renting up North, it's crucial to understand that the process differs from what you might be used to.

Jun 2024 | Essentials, Moving Home

Whether you’re moving from elsewhere in the UK or already renting up North, it’s crucial to understand that the process differs from what you might be used to. Let’s break it down step-by-step with this quick guide on how to buy a house in Scotland.

The Home Buying Process in Scotland

Step One: Get a Mortgage in Principle (MIP)

In Scotland, an MIP is not just a formality; it’s a crucial step before you even think about viewing properties. Estate agents will typically arrange viewings with one. This is because the legalities move faster up here, and you want to avoid finding yourself in a bind if you can secure a mortgage after making an offer.

Step Two: Get a Solicitor

You’ll need a local Scottish solicitor. While there are estate agents in Scotland, it’s common to find solicitors with estate agency branches. These solicitors form Property Centres, giving you access to a broader selection of properties. Remember, your solicitor is your guide and advocate in this process. You can’t use the same solicitor as the seller, so establish who’s representing whom early on.

Step Three: View Potential Homes

Unlike in England, you might be shown around by the current owner. The seller is also responsible for providing a Home Report before the viewing, which includes:

  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): This tells you how expensive the property is to run and suggests improvements.
  • Property Questionnaire: Details on council tax, alterations, repairs, flooding history, parking rights, and local authority notices.
  • Official Survey: This is a binding survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) detailing the property’s value. If it’s recent, most buyers don’t need an additional one.

Step Four: Make an Offer

Your solicitor will send a “note of interest” to the seller’s solicitor. This ensures you’re informed about the closing date for offers. In Scotland, offers are collected and considered after this date, so you have one chance to make your best bid. Offers can be: Offers Over, where you should expect to bid higher than the asking price; Offers Around, where there’s room to negotiate, but lower offers aren’t guaranteed to be accepted; or Fixed Price, where the first serious offer is likely to be accepted. Ensure you have your finances in place by the closing date, as the process moves swiftly after an offer is accepted.

  • Offers Over: Expect to bid higher than the asking price.
  • Offers Around: There’s room to negotiate, but lower offers aren’t guaranteed to be accepted.
  • Fixed Price: The first serious offer is likely to be accepted.

Ensure you have your finances in place by the closing date, as the process moves swiftly after an offer is accepted.

Step Five: The Mortgage and Missives

Upon offer acceptance, you apply for your mortgage formally and arrange funds. Your solicitor handles the legal side, checking contracts and council records and ensuring the property is legally the seller’s to sell. The exchange of missives (formal letters) follows, concluding with a legally binding agreement to purchase.

Step Six: Conveyancing

Your solicitor will now focus on the title deed and the Standard Security Deed for property payment. Meanwhile, the seller’s solicitor prepares the Disposition, which transfers legal ownership to you. Don’t forget the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), akin to Stamp Duty. This tax is calculated based on the purchase price of the property and is payable by the buyer. You’ll need to sort out this tax even if your property is under £145,000.

Step Seven: Get the Keys

Similar to completion day in England, the Scottish date of entry is when you get the keys after your solicitor pays the seller’s solicitor. This usually happens within weeks of offer acceptance, depending on conveyancing and mortgage completion. You can then move in and pay any outstanding fees to your solicitor, who will also register the change of ownership with the Land Register in Edinburgh.

 

And there you have it! With these steps, you’ll be well on your way to securing your new home in Scotland. Cheers to your new adventure and perhaps a little ceilidh to celebrate!

 

Our whole-of-market mortgage brokers compare deals from various lenders to find the best mortgage for you. And we’ll guide you through every step of the process. Reach out to our experienced advisers, and we’ll give an overview of available options while delving into the best-suited solution for you. Call us on 0333 335 6595 or message us to get started!

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