Buying and selling a property
Solicitors can ease the strain and help to avoid the pitfalls of
the complete house-buying process, from noting interest in a
property to concluding the deal. Their local knowledge can also be
useful in helping you find a property.
For a more detailed description of the process, please download
a property information sheet.
The first step
A solicitor can 'note interest' in a property you like. This
shows you are interested in the property and want to be kept
informed of developments, such as the fixing of a closing date for
Information about the property
Sellers must provide a home report for buyers. These include a
single survey (which gives the condition and value of the
property), an energy report (which contains a house's energy
efficiency rating and carbon dioxide emissions) and a property
questionnaire (which includes general information such as a
property's council tax band, factoring arrangements, the existence
of any local authority notices and information about alterations
that have been made).
A surveyor instructed by the seller will provide the survey
contained in the home report pack. In many cases this will be
sufficient for an interested party to submit an offer. However the
potential buyer may have to commission another survey at the
request of a mortgage provider or if the original survey was
carried out some time ago. Your solicitor can provide further
details and advice.
Arranging the loan
There are many types or mortgages available, which can be
confusing. Some solicitors can offer advice on what is best for you
and then arrange the loan.
Making an offer
A formal offer to purchase in Scotland is a complicated document
containing a number of clauses for your protection. Your solicitor
will prepare and sign this document for you and give guidance on
offer price and other conditions.
Negotiating the purchase
Further negotiations are likely after an offer has been
accepted, for instance, the date of entry, details of additional
items included in the sale and issues such as permits for
Checking and transferring ownership
Your solicitor can advise on any 'title burdens', or conditions
that must be obeyed by the owner, such as common repairs, rules on
keeping animals or uses for the property. A new title deed will
then be prepared and signed by the seller, transferring the title
into your own name.
Your solicitor will be able to give you advice about other
important matters, such as insuring the property and its contents
and drawing up a will, which is highly recommended. Also, he or she
can provide you with a quotation for the cost of the house-buying
process, including legal fees.
Selling a property
Most solicitors can handle the sale of a property from start to
finish, including advice on advertising and the conveyancing. It is
best to consult a solicitor even if you are selling a property
Sellers are required by law to provide a home report for buyers.
These include a single survey, an energy report and a property
questionnaire. Your solicitor can provide further details and
Negotiating the sale
Your solicitor will negotiate the selling price and other
matters - such as the date of entry - before negotiating and
accepting any offer to purchase on your behalf. This exchange of
letters signed by the solicitors is referred to as 'missives'. Once
their terms are finally agreed, there is a concluded and binding
Further checks have to be carried out by solicitors after an
offer has been accepted, for instance, in relation to building work
or repairs. Then new title deeds can be drawn up transferring
ownership of the property. Your solicitor can take care of all
this, while also collecting the money from the sale, arranging to
discharge and repay your existing mortgage if you have one and, if
necessary, arranging for the surplus to be put towards the purchase
of your new home.
After the sale
Your solicitor will also be available for advice after the deal
has been completed.
The introduction of home reports in 2008 marked a major change in
how properties are bought and sold in Scotland. Buyers and sellers
should be assured that the professionals involved, solicitors and
surveyors alike, are regulated by their membership organisations -
the Law Society of Scotland and the Royal Institution of Chartered
Surveyors. This should reassure members of the public that they can
access sound and impartial advice when buying or selling a