In Scotland, how long does it take to purchase a home? The conveyancing process can be finished in as little as six to eight weeks from the time your offer is accepted; occasionally, it happens much sooner. Of course, you must also account for the time spent looking for a home and the other preparations needed before placing an offer. We’ve prepared a guide to conveyancing in Scotland and divided the entire home-buying procedure north of the border into ten easy steps to make it easier for you to plan your schedule. (Note: The procedure appears slightly different if you’re purchasing in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland.)
How long does it take to buy a house in Scotland?
This guide contains everything you need to know about conveyancing in Scotland! Read on to know more.
Step 1: Get a Mortgage in Principle
It takes 5 minutes to get there!
There are a few things you should do before beginning your search for your new Scottish house. Organizing a Mortgage in Principle (MIP) is the initial step. A MIP is a practical document that outlines the maximum amount you might be able to borrow from a mortgage lender. Although making an offer on a home in Scotland is not required by law, the seller might not consider your offer seriously if you don’t register for the Mortgage in Principle.
Step 2: Find a solicitor for the conveyancing process
Several days to a few weeks are required (or no time at all, with Clarity Simplicity)
In the rest of the UK like England and Wales, you would normally hire a conveyancing solicitor with a focus on real estate, like an estate agent later in the home-buying process. However, you’ll require one quite quickly in Scotland. This is due to the fact that in Scotland when you find a house you’d like to buy, solicitors are in charge of placing the offer. Therefore, you must employ one before you begin looking at properties. Once your offer has been approved, they will work with you to find properties and complete the transaction by exchanging contracts (more on this later). A solicitor will help you throughout the buying or selling a house and even while paying the LBTT.
Step 3: The search for property in Scotland
Time required: Highly variable
The search for your new home can begin now that your MIP and conveyancing lawyer are in order.
Setting a time limit for the property search can be challenging. You might need a few days or you might work on it nonstop for several months. This will be mostly determined by:
- Property availability in the desired neighborhood
- locating a house within your means
- Are you willing to make improvements to the property?
- How quickly you must move
Step 4 comes after you’ve located a property you like!
Step 4: Request and read the Home Report
Between a few hours and a few days.
Another significant distinction in the Scottish homebuying legal process is that a seller must get a Home Report before the property can be listed for sale. It ought to include:
- a single property study that provides information about the house, its condition, and any repairs you might need to make (based on a visual assessment by a chartered surveyor);
- a report on the property’s energy efficiency and the typical costs associated with heating, lighting, and hot water;
- and a property questionnaire (completed by the seller), which addresses a number of frequently asked questions (FAQs), such as who currently provides the broadband connection and whether there are shared or common areas, as well as the expense of maintaining them.
The seller or the estate agency who is listing the home will often give you the Home Report. However, if the seller doesn’t think you’re a serious buyer, they might not give you the Home Report (this is when a MIP comes in handy!).
Note that although a Home Report is not required for new construction in Scotland, potential buyers should still obtain an energy performance certificate.
Step 5: Make an offer
Between a few hours and a few days.
The next step is to inform your solicitor, who will legally “note” your interest in the house with the seller if you are satisfied with your viewing(s) and the information in the home report. Your attorney will submit the offer on your behalf if you’re ready to move forward. The seller may ask you to wait while they think about your offer, and there may be some back and forth before you two settle on a price you both like.
If there is a lot of interest in the property, you could be required to submit your written offer by a certain date (via your lawyer), in which case the winning offer will be determined after that point. Not always the highest, mind you. If you can move more quickly than the other bidders, for instance, you might be able to win with a cheaper offer.
A letter known as a “qualified acceptance” will be sent to you by the seller’s attorney if they accept your offer. This indicates that after you fulfill certain requirements, they will accept your offer. Then, your lawyer and the seller’s lawyer will exchange letters—known as “missives”—to negotiate these terms (you could want to include the seller’s white goods, fixtures, and fittings in the offer, for instance). Once you have an agreement and your offer has been approved, continue quickly to step 6.
Step 6: The mortgage process in Scotland
Time required: 3 to 6 weeks plus
You’ll need to apply for a mortgage to pay for your purchase unless you’re paying cash.
An overview of the mortgage application procedure is provided below:
- Complete the application. You may need a day or two to acquire the required paperwork and fill it out. If you use a mortgage broker, they may assist in ensuring that all of your information and supporting documents are accurate and present.
- Reviewing and submitting. Your lender may assess your application up to 6 weeks after you hit “send.” They will verify your credit history, perform an affordability assessment to ensure you can afford the mortgage, and conduct a valuation to ensure the property is worth what you are applying for.
- Make a request for further details. After reviewing your application, the lender can determine that they require further information from you, resulting in a few-day wait. Once more, having a mortgage broker on hand might help you act swiftly and reduce any unnecessary stress.
- Approval. You’ll receive your official mortgage offer if all goes as planned!
The good news is that you can move on to the following stages of the Scottish home purchasing process while you’re waiting for a response to your mortgage application.
Step 7: The property survey
Time required: two to three weeks
Yes, the Home Report already includes a property survey, but it is usually quite rudimentary. Frequently, a surveyor will drive by a home and assess its condition without actually going inside.
Given how significant a decision to buy a home is, you might want to think about scheduling a more thorough property survey. It might also provide you leverage to renegotiate your offer with the seller, saving you from unexpected (and expensive) shocks in the future.
Step 8: Time the Conveyancing process takes
Time required: Over 8 weeks!
The legal procedure for transferring ownership of a property is known as conveyancing.
Your solicitor will do what is known as property searches while your mortgage application is actively being processed. This entails getting information about the building, the land it’s built on, and the neighborhood by getting in touch with various agencies. They are essentially looking for everything that might have an impact on its value.
Typically, the searches include
- Planning, road, and environmental searches conducted by local authorities
- Sewage and water supply drainage searches
- Environmental investigations including landslides, pollution, and flooding
Step 9: Conclusion of missives (and sort out home insurance)
The time it takes: 2 to 4 weeks before completion
At this point, your solicitor will sign a document to state that the conditions of the offer have been met by both parties and that you’ve concluded missives. You’ll then confirm the date of entry, which is when you’ll pay the seller and get the keys to your new property.
Once the missives are accepted, you’re now legally bound to buy the property. If you back out after the conclusion of the missives, you may need to pay the seller a penalty. Note: It’s a good idea to insure the property from the date the missives are concluded. After that date, the property is your responsibility, so you’ll want to be covered against any risks.
Step 10: Completion, payment, and entry
Nearing the finish line!
- Your solicitor will first send you a completion statement explaining your obligations. This will include any extra fees, your deposit, and Land & Buildings Transaction Tax, which is the Scottish version of Stamp Duty. You’ll be requested to send your deposit to your solicitor’s bank account about ten days before to your date of entrance so that they have it available to execute the transaction. The money will then be taken out of your mortgage account, combined with your down payment, and sent in full to the seller’s attorney, who will then pay off the remaining balance of the seller’s mortgage.
- You’ll be requested to send your deposit to your solicitor’s bank account about ten days before your date of entrance so that they have it available to execute the transaction. The money will then be taken out of your mortgage account, combined with your down payment, and sent in full to the seller’s attorney, who will then pay off the remaining balance of the seller’s mortgage.
- In exchange, the seller’s attorney will give evidence that the mortgage has been paid off, giving you the assurance that their bank has no claim to the property. The title deeds—legal records proving your ownership of the property—will also be given to you.
- All that’s left to do is pick up the keys and move in at this point.
Congratulations! You have now purchased your house in Scotland!
Conveyancing lawyers: Clarity Simplicity
When it comes to buying or selling a home in Scotland, understanding the conveyancing process is essential. Conveyancing is the legal process involved in transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another. The entire conveyancing process typically involves several steps and can take several weeks to complete. Buyers in Scotland often engage solicitors to navigate this process on their behalf, ensuring that all legal requirements are met and negotiations are conducted smoothly. Solicitors, as well as property centers, operate in Scotland and can provide valuable guidance throughout the conveyancing journey to the parties involved. It’s important to know the fees for buying a house, including the cost of conveyancing, the land, and building tax. These vary and were outlined in this conveyancing guide.
To get a clearer understanding of the expenses involved, it is recommended to consult with solicitors or Clarity Simplicity, who can provide you with everything you need to know about the costs associated with the conveyancing process. Call us at 0808 169 7318 to know more.