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Buying in Scotland

Overview of the process

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The Scottish legal system is not radically different to the English one, but some very distinct differences exist in the realm of land and property ownership law. These have a knock-on effect on the homebuying process.

The key differences can be identified as follows:

  • The tenure that an owner takes on a property is different. Almost all property is sold on an owner-occupier basis. The buyer has the right to live in the property and to make use of it in any way that is acceptable to the lender. There are no freeholds and no leaseholds.

  • The point at which a mortgage is applied for comes much earlier on in the Scottish homebuying process. Not only that, but your mortgage application is accepted before you even make an offer on the property and you complete the mortgage application before your offer has been accepted.

  • A solicitor is much more involved in the process in Scotland, and from an earlier stage in the proceedings.

  • In Scotland, the survey is carried out before you make an offer and actually plays a part in deciding how much you will bid for a property.

  • Prices are set differently in Scotland. The vendor sets a price above which offers are invited. In England and Wales, the buyer usually has the opportunity to negotiate the seller downwards on price.

  • The two parties to the sale are contractually obliged to complete transaction from an earlier stage in Scotland. This minimises the risk of being gazumped, though you will almost certainly be able to claim financial compensation if it does happen.

  • In Scotland, a formal moving in date is set. This makes it much easier to co-ordinate a concurrent sale and purchase and removes some of the problems of being in a chain.

  • The duration of the process from agreement of sale to completion is usually a fair amount quicker in Scotland.

With these differences in mind, the main stages in the process can be seen as follows:

Apply for a mortgage

Arrange a solicitor

Find your new home

Ask your solicitor to 'note interest'

Complete your mortgage application

Valuation or survey takes place

Mortgage application agreed

Make an offer on your new home

Complete your mortgage application

Offer is accepted

Arrange buildings and life assurance

Solicitors concludes missives


Move in!

Follow the links at the top of the page if you want more information on the various stages of the process.

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