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Scotland has its own unique legal system, so selling your home north of Hadrian’s Wall follows a slightly different process to the rest of the UK.
Most of these things will be handled by your estate agent and solicitor. But, being prepared for each stage will help you know what to expect, and can make the process a little less daunting.
Luckily for those living north of the border, some of the unique elements of the Scottish system actually make a successful sale more likely than in the rest of the UK.
What is a Home Report?
When you decide to put your property on the market, you’ll need to arrange a Home Report. This is a pack containing all the vital information about your property. The report needs to include:
A Single Survey - this details the condition of your property, including any required repairs
An Energy Report - this includes details of your property’s energy efficiency rating
Your Property Questionnaire - this contains any other key information, such as: your property’s council tax band and any planning permission documents
There’s no expiry date on your Home Report, but you must make sure that it is less than 12 weeks old when your property goes on the market. You may find that if your report is over 12 weeks old potential buyers will need to re-survey your home to satisfy their mortgage lender.
Home reports generally cost between £400-£600. They can be arranged either by your estate agent, or you can shop around for a provider yourself. If you decide to take this option, it’s important to bear in mind both the cost and which mortgage lenders will accept a report from your surveyor. This can impact a buyer’s ability to make an offer.
Listing your property
When you put your home up for sale in Scotland you can decide whether to ask for ‘offers over’ or ‘around’ a certain price, or for a ‘fixed price’.
Asking for ‘offers over’ means that you will sell your property to the highest bidder, whereas ‘offers around’ implies a willingness to negotiate. Setting a ‘fixed price’ is less common; you’ll sell your home to the first person to offer the asking price.
Most properties in Scotland are sold by a process of ‘blind bidding’. Sellers ask for ‘offers over’ or ‘offers around’ their desired sales price, and then set a closing date by which they want to receive all bids.
Your estate agent will be able to advise which course of action is best for you, depending on your personal needs, and the local market. In a highly competitive market it makes sense to solicit ‘offers over’, but when there is less demand a more careful approach will be required. The property market in Aberdeen is very different from the market in Edinburgh and nothing at all like Pittenweem. Talking to an agent with strong track record of selling homes in your area will help you make an informed decision about your best course of action.
At GetAgent we analyse huge amounts of data about the property market, so that you can find the best agent to support your sale. Compare the statistically proven top performers in your area.
When a potential buyer’s solicitor sends an offer to your solicitor they initiate the process of exchanging ‘missives’.
Missives are formal letters between your solicitor and a potential buyer’s solicitor. In these letters they negotiate the terms of the sale. This includes discussing: which pieces of furniture you will leave behind, what day you’d like to move out on, and whether you will carry out any repairs before you leave.
Once all these issues have been sorted out, a final letter is sent which results in the ‘conclusion of the missives’. This is the first formal contractual agreement in your sale. After this point it is very expensive for either party to withdraw from the sale.
Generally the process of exchanging missives takes about 6 weeks. One of the main reasons it takes so long is that it is necessary for your buyer to prove they are financially able to purchase your home. If they are taking out a mortgage, you will have to wait for their lender to confirm their funds before moving ahead. Although this delay is annoying, it does mean that the sale is much less likely to fall through.
The solicitors will then go about the process of transferring ownership from you to the buyer. This is called conveyancing. They’ll check whether you actually own the property you’re trying to sell, and that the boundary lines agreed upon match those in your title deeds. They will also confirm any ‘burdens’ associated with the property. These include any maintenance obligations, or agreed rights of access.
If everything is in order, the solicitors will draw up a document called a ‘disposition’. This is the document that legally transfers ownership from you to the buyer.
Your solicitor will deliver the disposition to the buyer’s solicitor along with the keys on the day of completion. In return your solicitor will receive a cheque for your home. They will pay off any outstanding amounts, including your mortgage, your estate agent and legal fees, and then return the remaining amount to you.
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