Conveyancing in Scotland
The legal system governing the ownership of property in Scotland is different to that in England and Wales.
The seller and the purchaser will generally both appoint their own solicitors (who may also act as estate agents). Properties may be advertised by the seller at a fixed price, ‘offers over’ or ‘offers around’, although purchasers are free to make whatever offer they wish.
For certain properties, a home report must be made available to potential purchasers, which will include:
- A survey and valuation.
- A property questionnaire.
- An energy report.
Home reports do not have an expiry date, however, lenders may require that the survey and valuation are refreshed it they are more than 3 months old. Purchasers have the right to rely on a home report, and if it proves to be incomplete or inaccurate, may be able to seek damages.
When a purchaser is interested in a property, they (or their solicitor) should register their interest with the selling agent. If more than one party registers an interest, the seller may set a closing date for offers, by which time all formal offers must be made.
Formal written offers will generally include conditions such as the date of entry, a requirement to refresh the survey, items that are included in the sale, the operational condition of the property (such as the heating system) and so on. The seller’s solicitor will then issue a qualified acceptance which may include their own conditions. The solicitor will also hand over information about the property such as the title deeds. These communications are known as the missives.
During this process, a series of checks are carried out, such as:
- Verifying that the seller owns the property.
- That the deeds are correct.
- That the boundaries are correct.
- Any burdens or servitudes that may affect the property.
- Any outstanding communal repairs.
- Whether roads have been adopted by the local authority.
- Any fees or charges associated with the property.
- Any debts relating to the property.
- Permissions relating to alterations carried out to the property.
If the purchaser is happy with the conditions, a final concluding missive letter completes the contract which is then binding, and failure to proceed with the transaction might result in one party seeking damages from the other.
The purchaser should arrange insurance for the property, and removals if necessary.
On the agreed date of entry, the purchaser’s solicitor should receive documentation that transfers the title of the property, they certify to any lender that the title has been put in the purchaser's name, arrange payment from the purchaser, and obtain the keys.
The buyer’s solicitor then informs Land Registers of the transfer of ownership and arranges for payment of any Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.
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