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Selling in Scotland

Missives and settlement

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Once you have accepted an offer, you are almost home and dry. It is very rare for anybody to pull out before things become official - and if they do you will almost certainly be able to get financial compensation - but don't go popping the champagne corks just yet. Before things are formalised, your solicitors must complete the missives.

Though it sounds like an arcane challenge, completing the missives is actually a bit like finalising the contracts in England. The two solicitors exchange letters and iron out any of the finer details that were not explicitly mentioned in the original. This may include such things as details of any fixtures and fittings that are actually staying, or perhaps a slight alteration to the entry date.

Once both parties are agreed on all of the details of the offer, which usually does not take long, the missives are said to be 'concluded'. This means that both parties have now entered into a legally biding contract from which withdrawal will undoubtedly incur a hefty compensation bill running into many thousands of pounds.

Once the missives are completed, legal responsibility for the structure of the property passes to the buyer. This means that their lender may well insist they have appropriate buildings insurance in place to protect the fabric of the property as soon as it becomes their legal responsibility.

Part of the purpose of the missives is to set a formal entry date for the property, on which the transaction will be completed and you must move out. This is generally set at around four or five weeks after the agreement of the sale, but can be a shorter or considerably longer period of time, at the discretion of the two parties involved.

Before the entry date, your solicitor will release the title deeds to the buyer's solicitor for scrutiny. On the date of entry your solicitor will deliver the keys to the property and the Disposition to the buyers solicitor. The disposition legally transfers the property to the new owner. This is the culmination of the settlement process and means that the sale is complete.

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