A Short Guide for Those Looking To Buy a House in Scotland

A Short Guide for Those Looking To Buy a House in Scotland

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Those in England and Wales may be under the misapprehension that the property market in Scotland operates in the same manner. This is, in fact, not the case; there are some very important differences in the way the legal process works north of the border. For those looking to relocate to Scotland, it is very important to have a working knowledge of these.

Although most of the elements of the process are the same, there are differences in the timing of the contract actually becoming legally binding. In Scotland the contracts are typically handed over much earlier in the process than in England, where this can actually take place at the very last minute. There is a lot to be said for this different approach, and it certainly reduces the potential for stress and anxiety just prior to, or on, moving day.

Indeed, in Scotland, once a seller has accepted an offer from the buyer (and the conditions of the sale are also agreed) a formal legal commitment to buy has been entered into. Consequently it is also far more important to really think through what you are doing before formally making that offer. As part of the overall process the seller is also mandated to provide what is known as a ‘home report’ as well, which contains critical information such as a property survey and an energy report.

As the offer is more legally binding it is imperative that it is made through a suitably qualified solicitor. A lot of English buyers assume that an English solicitor can be engaged to do this, but this is not the case. It has to be an appropriately qualified Scottish solicitor, as the two legal systems are completely different.

Other differences

One of the other key differences in the way that houses are marketed is the pricing system. In England houses are put up for sale for a set price, against which an offer is made. It is far more typical in Scotland for properties to be marketed at ‘offers over’ a certain amount. Whilst a lower offer than this amount can be made, it is more unusual to see offers below this amount in the Scottish system. Indeed it is quite typical for properties to be sold at around 20% above the ‘offers over’ amount. This is a key point for English buyers of Scottish properties to consider, especially when deciding upon the affordability of specific properties.

Fleur writes for WhatNewHomes, a well-respected property site, based in the UK, offering links to properties for sale and rental. It also offers news and articles from the UK property industry.