When it comes to buying a house in Scotland, it’s important you understand the differences between England and Wales. There are some things that are the same, but there are many nuances, including solicitors’ responsibilities and how to submit offers. With that in mind, this guide will help you understand how to buy a house in Scotland.
What’s the process of buying a home in Scotland?
- Get your mortgage in principle. OK, nothing particularly new here, before you make an offer you will need to know how much you can borrow.
- Choose your solicitor. This is where things start to change. Did you know that you need a solicitor to buy a house in Scotland? You’ll need to instruct a solicitor before making an offer on a property. They are the ones who put in the offer (more on that shortly), negotiate and see through the sale.
- Receive a home value report and survey. In Scotland, the seller needs to arrange a Home Report for any interested parties. It needs to include the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), a survey from someone qualified by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and a property questionnaire featuring an accurate account of things like the council tax band and local authority notices.
- Offer over or fixed price. Once you’ve seen the home value report, now’s the time to decide how much to offer on the property. In many cases an offer would be above the home report value, however, this can vary based on other interested buyers and other external factors. Your solicitor will put your offer using a formal letter.
- Closing dates. The closing date is the deadline that all written offers must be made to the sellers solicitor. Generally, sellers may be inclined to accept a higher offer but they are under no obligation to.
- Contract agreement. Known as the ‘conclusion of missives’, both parties are now legally committed to the sale. Deposits are only paid on new build property in Scotland.
- Completion. The seller’s solicitor gives you a Land Transaction Return to sign. You will also need to pay your solicitor’s bill and the signed title deeds will be registered with the Register of Scotland.
How it’s different from buying a house in England?
There are several key factors in Scotland that make buying a home different from England.
- The offer stage – Scottish homes are sold through the ‘closing date’ system. This is normally a buyer’s solicitor submitting their clients written offer on the closing day. The winning bid is normally informed straight away.
- Hire a solicitor before making an offer – In England, people typically instruct a solicitor once an offer is accepted. In Scotland, however, you’ll need to get one on board before making an offer. Solicitors or a Paralegal will submit your offer, registering your ‘note of interest’ with the seller’s estate agent. They’ll also negotiate and check the contract and organise the transfer of the Title, as well as the money.
- The property report comes from the seller – You won’t need to arrange a survey on the home as this comes from the seller in the form of the Home Report. It contains a survey, details on the home’s energy efficiency and an in-depth questionnaire filled out by the seller. May argue this provides more transparency in the house-buying process. A Home Report isn’t required for a new-build property.
- There’s no leasehold – Leaseholds are common in England, especially in apartments. But everything is a freehold in Scotland, thanks to the Long Leases Scotland Act 2012, which abolished the small number of leaseholds in the country. That means you own the property; plus the land it sits on.
- Limited gazumping – Gazumping is one of the most frustrating parts of buying a home. You think you’re about to clinch your dream property, only for another buyer to come in at the last minute and snatch it away. In Scotland, gazumping hardly ever happens due to homes being taken off the market as soon as an offer is accepted. While it’s not impossible, it is rare.
How long does it take to buy a house in Scotland?
The time it takes to buy a house in Scotland can vary. On average, it takes around eight to 12 weeks from start to finish after considering everything. Just keep in mind that it can be longer or shorter depending on several factors, such as your desire to buy, the vendor’s willingness to sell and the speed of the solicitors.
Is there stamp duty in Scotland?
Stamp duty isn’t the same in Scotland as it is in England. In April 2015, stamp duty was replaced by the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT). The LBTT is different to stamp duty and is based on the value of the property being purchased.
LBTT thresholds are also different in Scotland compared to those in England. Tax rates can vary based on the property’s value and whether it’s a primary residence or a second home. Rules and rates for LBTT can also change from time to time, so it’s always a good idea to check with your solicitor paralegal to get the most up-to-date information.
What about conveyancing?
While many aspects of the conveyancing process are the same in Scotland and England – e.g., checking the title, and reviewing contracts – there are some key differences. Sellers typically use a solicitor estate agent to sell their home.
Marketing and conveyancing are managed by the same people, this makes the entire process faster and more effective than in England.
Speak to your local Propertymark member agent who will be able to assist you when selling or buying a home in Scotland.
Estate agents in Scotland
If you’re more familiar with the home-buying process in England then buying a house in Scotland will feel quite different.
Using a Propertymark member agent, whether in England, Scotland or Wales means you deal with an agent who is not only regulated but is also qualified.
And while there are many differences some are beneficial and can help improve the speed of sale.
What’s most important is that you buy the right home for you. Our Move iQ Property Report, you can feel confident about moving home and get all the details about homes in Scotland, including property-specific and local area information
Last Updated: November 22nd, 2023