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Selling in Scotland

Overview and main differences

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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 process of selling a home.

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.

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

  • The point at which a mortgage is applied for comes much earlier on in the Scottish homebuying process. The buyer will actually have completed his or her mortgage application before you accept an offer, so there is not chance of a buyer pulling out having after being unexpectedly refused a mortgage.

  • Similarly the survey is carried out before offers are made and it actually plays a part in deciding how much buyers will bid for a property.

  • Price is set differently in Scotland. You will set a minimum price above which offers are invited. There is no process of negotiating downwards on price. 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 gazundered, 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 dealing with buyers of your home that are in a selling 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 process of selling a house in Scotland can be seen in brief as follows:

  • Decision taken to sell property
  • Home prepared for valuation and sale
  • Solicitor appointed
  • Minimum sale price is set on the property
  • Viewings and offers are invited
  • Viewings take place
  • Interested parties note interest and commission surveys
  • Offers are received
  • Closing date is set
  • On closing date, offers are accepted or rejected
  • Missives
  • Conclusion of missives
  • Settlement
  • Move out (if you haven't already)

The whole process can be subdivided into three stages, click any of the links for more detail on any of the stages:

The preliminaries
Receiving offers
Missives and settlement

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