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Buying in Scotland

Buying land or property in Scotland is more akin to auction than to the process in the rest of the UK, since you are normally bound by an offer as soon as it’s accepted. Offers are often made by sealed bids above a guide price, submitted by a given date. As with auctions, all your preparation and research must be done in advance.

The key stages for buying property or land in Scotland are:


-         You see a plot for sale at a ‘guide price’, often marketed via solicitors

-         You do your research and site surveys etc

-         Decide how much you are prepared to pay

-         Ask your solicitor to ‘note interest’ in the land, to prevent the vendor selling to another party without telling you first.

-         Arrange finance

-         Your mortgage lender will want a valuation of the plot, but all  residential properties now come with their own ‘home report’ survey

-         Your solicitor makes a written offer, subject to conditions and enquiries – known as the Missives. 

-         If there are other interested parties, a closing date will be set for final offers to be submitted, the highest normally accepted.

-         Once a written offer is accepted, it is binding on both parties

-         Your solicitors obtain Property Enquiry Certificates (searches)

-         Following ‘Conclusion of the Missives’ your solicitor receives a Draft Disposition, which is signed by both parties.

-         Monies are paid over on the Date of Entry (Completion) and you can take up occupation.

The advantage of the Scottish system is that once a sale is formally agreed, it is binding on both parties, thereby cutting out gazundering and gazumpinga that goes on in the rest of the UK.

But the Scottish system isn’t without its drawbacks. The use of guide prices encourages higher bids, rather like a tender. And even once an offer has been accepted,  the acceptance can still have conditions (‘hedging’ the offer) so the obligation can often be broken.

Conveyancing note: ‘Real burdens’ are equivalent to covenants in the rest of the UK. But there’s an additional type of covenant to watch out for in Scotland, known as ‘right of pre-emption’. Should you ever decide to sell, this gives the seller the right to buy the property back at the level of the highest offer. They normally have up to 21 days to exercise their right to buy.







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