Buying and selling property can be complex, both legally and practically. Below is a guide that answers the most common questions about the process of buying and selling property. It sets out the legal framework of residential or commercial conveyancing transactions, both from the buyer and the seller’s perspective.
Whilst the order in which the events occur may vary slightly in different transactions, outlined below is a basic overview of how the process should progress.
Williamson and Henry can explain and guide you through every stage of the conveyancing transaction. Regardless of whether you are buying or selling or which stage of the process you are at, our experienced property and conveyancing Solicitors are here to help. See our Estate Agency page for information on our properties for sale.
What is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing in Scotland can really be broken down into two stages. The first stages of the process is the contract, or missives stage (as it is known), the second stage is the conveyancing stage. Conveyancing, very simply, is the transfer of legal title to property from one legal person (a legal person may also be a company) to another.
Both stages in the process are important to ensure you get / pass legal title to everything the parties intend. That’s why at Williamson and Henry we take great care in listening to our clients and carry out your transactions with great care and attention to detail.
How do I begin buying a property?
If you are the buyer, you should contact the Solicitor or Estate Agent dealing with the sale or contact us here at Williamson and Henry, where we can do this for you. At this time you should note your interest, ask whether or not there is a closing date for offers, ask for a Schedule of Particulars and find out how to access a copy of the Home Report. A note of interest does not legally oblige you to buy the property, it merely means that you should be kept informed of important developments in the sale if you are not yet ready to offer.
As a firm we are very much geared towards the marketing of property through our Estate Agency Office and for linking the marketing process with the conveyancing process to try and make the whole transaction proceed as smoothly as possible.
How do I begin selling a property?
Contact us for a Pre Sales Market Appraisal and Valuation. One of our experienced Solicitors will be able to guide you through the full process of selling your home, from preparing your home before placing it on the property market, to the options available to you for marketing your property and to accepting and offer and completing the sale of your home.
The Home Report
As a seller it is a requirement that you have a Home Report available for prospective purchasers. Most of our Home Reports are made available to be easily downloaded by interested buyers from www.onesurvey.org
As a buyer, the Home Report contains a Property Questionnaire which is completed by the seller, providing some of the more practical information about the property, a report on the property’s condition which has been completed by a Surveyor, a Mortgage Valuation Report and an Energy Performance Certificate. Your Solicitor will be able to assist you in understanding the Home Report and point out any details they believe to be important.
Instructing a Property Survey
The Law Society of Scotland recommends that as a purchaser, if the Home Report is more than 12 weeks old, that you should either get your own survey or ask for the Home Report to be refreshed / updated. A refreshed Home Report will only be obtained by the seller if it is a condition of the written offer to do so.
If you are the buyer, although the Home Report (or updated Home Report) can be provided to you, you may wish to instruct your own Surveyor to carry out an independent survey. In fact, this may be required by your mortgage lender. There are different types of survey which vary in detail, your Solicitor will be able to help you decide which is best and can also instruct a Surveyor for you.
Arranging a Mortgage
If you need a mortgage to enable you to buy a property then we would suggest that you get in touch with your own Mortgage Advisor, Broker, Bank or Building Society, as soon as possible to find out how much you are able to borrow.
Making an Offer to Buy a Property
At Williamson and Henry we are here to guide you through the entire process of buying a home and that process begins once you have viewed a property you are interested in.
Our Solicitors can guide and advise you on how much you might need to offer to secure the property. The offer must be submitted in writing. In Scotland, all formal offers for property must be submitted by a Solicitor. If an agreement or verbal offer is made, this will not be binding and you are at risk of being unable to complete the purchase. On the other hand, there is also a risk that informal letters between buyer and seller directly could create a contract, which without the advice of a Solicitor may put one of the parties at a disadvantage.
Accepting an Offer to Buy Your Property
Normally, the highest offer will be accepted, however this may not always be the case. The seller may prefer an offer because of details about the buyer. For example, one potential buyer might have secured lending, which can be preferable if another potential buyer needs to sell their own home before the sale can proceed.
Once your offer is accepted verbally this must be followed by a written acceptance, known as a Qualified Acceptance from the seller’s Solicitor. The Qualified Acceptance will contain certain qualifications to the acceptance of your offer. Your Solicitor will be able to discuss these points with you and respond to the seller’s solicitor with any issues. The seller can then formally respond and this process will continue until there are no outstanding issues. These letters back and forth are known as ‘missives’.
Concluding Missives (Agreeing the Contract)
Once all outstanding points have been agreed, a binding contract will have been formed, known as ‘concluding missives’. Once missives are concluded, although you may not have signed anything personally, at this point you will be bound by the contract. Neither party can now get out of the contract without penalty.
Transfer of Good Title to the Property
The documents of ownership, known as Title Deeds must be checked by your Solicitor. These will provide a description of the property, any rights relating to the property and any conditions known as ‘burdens’ which must be observed by the owner of the property. Your Solicitor will report to you on these aspects and highlight anything which may be of concern.
The deed to transfer title from the Seller into the name of the Buyer is called a Disposition. This deed is signed by the Seller.
Completing the Sale / Purchase
The transaction is deemed to be completed or settled on the agreed date of entry. The Title Deeds to the property will be sent to the buyer’s Solicitor, the price will be paid to the seller’s Solicitor and the keys to the property will be handed over to the buyer.
The buyer’s Solicitor will then deal with all the Stamp Duty and Land Register requirements.
How much does Conveyancing cost?
Although the purchase price is the main consideration payable by buyers in a property purchase, there are other costs which need to be taken into account. Stamp Duty Land Tax must be paid to HMRC by the buyer. Your Solicitor will advise you on how much Stamp Duty will be payable on the purchase of your property.
There is also a fee charged by the Registers of Scotland for registering your ownership of the property. We will advise you of all the costs relating to your purchase or sale at the start of our involvement with you.
At Williamson and Henry we will provide you with a personally tailored breakdown of all the anticipated costs involved with the sale of your property, from the costs of marketing, to the costs and outlays involved specifically with the conveyancing for your sale.
Contact Williamson and Henry
Here at Williamson and Henry, we want to ensure that you are entirely satisfied and confident in your property transaction. Our expert Solicitors have a wealth of knowledge in all kinds of conveyancing transactions including farming and agricultural land and will ensure that whether you are buying or selling, no matter what the property type, that you experience excellent, friendly and efficient service. Call us now on 01557 330 692.