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Conveyancing – Residential & Commercial

 
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BUYING AND SELLING

Buying and selling property can be complex, both legally and practically.  Below is a guide that answers some of the most common questions asked about the process of buying and selling property.  It sets out the legal framework of residential conveyancing transactions both from the buyer and the seller’s perspective. 

Every property we sell and every client we serve is different, which means every conveyancing unique. There are, however, similar elements or stages in each transaction. We have tried to outline below 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 regarding 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 to sell a property?

Contact us for a Pre-Sales Market Appraisal and a guide on Valuation (ultimately the valuation will largely depend on the surveyor carrying out the home report on your property).  One of our experienced estate agents and / or one of our solicitors will be able to guide you through the full process of selling your home. We can give guidance on preparing your home before placing it onto the market and on the options available to you for marketing your property. We can also provide advice on negotiations at offer stage and on setting a closing date (where a fixed deadline is given for multiple interested parties to submit ‘blind offers’) or accepting an offer and completing the sale of your home.

The Home Report

As a seller of residential property it is a legal requirement that you have a home report available for prospective purchasers. Most of our Home Reports are easily downloaded by interested buyers from www.onesurvey.org or from www.espc.com.

At Williamson and Henry we like to cross reference the home report downloads against viewings that are confirmed and follow up any home report requests that haven’t viewed. This is a good way of starting a conversation with potential purchasers who may not have made contact with the office.

Accepting an Offer to Sell Your Property

Normally, the highest offer will be accepted, however this may not always be the case. The seller may prefer to accept a lower offer for a number of reasons. For example, one potential buyer may have already sold their home or they may already have secured lending, which puts them at an advantage over another potential buyer who needs to sell their own home before the sale can proceed.
 
Once your offer is accepted verbally this must be followed by a formal 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 they will then make any necessary enquiries of the seller’s solicitor. The seller can then formally respond in writing and this process will continue until there are no outstanding issues. These letters back and forth are known as ‘missives’.

A Contract to Sell / Buy

In Scotland the contract to purchase or sell is known as ‘missives’.  There are generally 3 elements to missives.  A) Offer B) Qualified Acceptance C) Concluding Missives.  If you do not know which stage you are at, just ask your Solicitor who should keep you informed.

There is no exchange of contracts as there is in England. A concluded contract can be achieved by the Seller’s Solicitor accepting all of the conditions in the offer to purchase. However, it is normal for Solicitors to send an offer and for one or more ‘missives’ to then be sent between them before a contract is finally concluded. It is the Solicitors acting for each party who sign the missives not the seller or purchaser themselves.

Concluding Missives (Agreeing the Contract)

Once an offer has been submitted, the seller and their solicitor negotiate on its terms or start to prepare the formal acceptance if the terms are already acceptable to the seller. 

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. A buyer’s Solicitor will report to the buyer on these aspects and highlight anything which may be of concern. Queries may be raised with the sellers at this stage.

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 Land Tax and Land Register requirements.

How much does Conveyancing cost?

At Williamson and Henry we will provide you with a personally tailored breakdown of all the anticipated costs involved with your transaction for a sale. This will include the costs of marketing and the costs and outlays involved specifically with the conveyancing.  For purchasing it will include fees and outlays to purchase as well as any taxes payable to Revenue Scotland for Land and Business Transaction Tax.

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. 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.

Buying a property is an exciting time but it can be stressful.  At Williamson and Henry we guide our clients from the start of the transaction giving advice on offer price, conditions of offer right through until the end of the process. (i.e when your title is registered)  we can also take instructions from your bank if you are using a mortgage to purchase.  The best time to get in touch with us is before you offer so that we can give you the best advice.

Home Report

As a buyer, The Home Report has 4 elements: 

  1.  The Property questionnaire which is completed by the seller, providing more of the practical information about the property,
  2. A Single Survey which is a report on the condition of the property which has been completed by an independent surveyor.
  3. Mortgage valuation Report which advises if the property is suitable for mortgage purposes.
  4. EPC / Energy Performance Certificate which will let you know the current energy performance of the property and if any green deal for improvements is available

Do I Need to Instruct my Own Survey?

The law society 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.  A refreshed home report will only be obtained by the seller if it is a condition of the written offer to do so.

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.    If you need a mortgage to purchase this must be part of any offer you submit on a property.

Making an Offer to Buy

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 assist in helping you decide on how much to offer to secure the property; local knowledge of the market is key!  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.  You can only offer for one property at a time.

Concluding Missives (Agreeing the Contract)

Once an offer has been submitted, the seller and their solicitor negotiate its terms or start to prepare the formal acceptance if the terms are already acceptable to the seller. 

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. A buyers Solicitor will report to the buyer on these aspects and highlight anything which may be of concern.  Queries may be raised with the sellers at this stage.

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 Land Tax and Land Register requirements.

How much does Conveyancing cost?

At Williamson and Henry we will provide you with a personally tailored breakdown of all the anticipated costs involved with your transaction for a sale this will include the costs of marketing, to the costs and outlays involved specifically with the conveyancing.  For purchasing it will include fees and outlays to purchase as well as any taxes payable to Revenue Scotland for Land and Business Transaction Tax.

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. 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.

A contract to Sell / Buy

In Scotland the contract to purchase or sell is known as missives.  There are generally 3 elements to missives.  A) Offer B) Qualified Acceptance C) Concluding Missives.  If you do not know which stage you are at your Solicitor should keep you informed.

You can become bound to the contract at any stage so unlike contracts in England.  It is the Solicitors acting for each party that sign the missives not the seller or purchaser.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax & Additional Dwelling Supplement.

This is a land tax payable by the purchaser on the purchase of land over a certain value.  The amount you pay depends on the value of the property and your circumstances.  Revenue Scotland have guidance on this.  https://www.revenue.scot/land-buildings-transaction-tax/tax-calculator/lbtt-property-transactions-calculator

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.

 
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