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Buying a House

Buying a House in Scotland

When you engage Hastings Legal as solicitors to act for you when buying a house in Scotland this is what you can expect.

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The missives are the starting point of your purchase and the contract between you and the seller for buying your house and are made up of formal letters passing between the two sets of solicitors.


Missives normally comprise an offer by ourselves on your behalf identifying the property, the price and a date of entry, being the date on which you will get the keys to your new home. The style of offer which we use also refers to what we call the “Scottish Standard Clauses” which is a set of clauses designed to apply to most transactions and to flush out any oddities about the property at an early stage. When we submit an offer we will copy this to you along with a copy of the Scottish Standard Clauses.

Settling the finer points

We would then expect to receive a qualified acceptance from the seller’s solicitors. This may contain a number of qualifications to the offer.

We will discuss these with you and decide whether or not the qualifications are acceptable or whether we need to modify them. In fact, you can often have several letters going back and forward between the solicitors adjusting the terms of the missives.

Bargain Concluded

The critical point is reached when one or the other of the two sets of solicitors says in the course of one of the missive letters “We now hold the bargain as concluded” or similar wording to that effect. At that point the full terms of the missives have been agreed and the deal has become  final and binding on both parties. It is not binding until we get to that stage and until then either party can walk away from the transaction.

Hold ups

It does not often happen that a party walks away but there can be delays in tying up the missives while we wait on receiving an offer of loan from the lender or try to tie up the missives for the sale of your current house. We will do our best to conclude the missives as soon as we can but we will only do so once we know any concurrent sale is secure and that your funding is in place.

Buying a house conveyancing process

Once Missives have been concluded

The seller’s solicitors will send us title deeds to the property. We will check through the title deeds to make sure that that the title which you are going to get to the property is “valid and marketable” (i.e. good). We also check to make sure that any necessary rights of access or for drainage etc are in place.

We will also normally copy the relevant Land Certificate or main title deed to you for your information.

We check to ensure that all the appropriate local authority permissions exist for any alterations to the property. We then draw up the deed conveying the property to you, along with drafts of the forms required for submitting this deed to Register House and the necessary Stamp Duty Land Tax Return.

The seller’s solicitors will check our draft deed and forms and then return them to us and deal with any queries which we may have raised. We then send them the principal deed in your favour for signature by the seller.

The seller’s solicitors will exhibit to us a Property Enquiry Certificate for the property which details whether or not the property is connected to the usual mains services, whether there are any outstanding Building Warrants or Planning Applications affecting the property, whether the roadway is taken over and maintained by the Local Authority or affected by any Planning Notices or Listings.

If you are having a mortgage over the property

we will also have to draw up the appropriate deed for that (called a Standard Security) and have that signed by you and we need to send confirmation to the lender that the title to the property is safe for them to lend against and also asking for the loan funds for the date of entry.

Transferring funds

We will send you a State for Settlement indicating how much money we require from you to settle the transaction, including our fees, Vat, Stamp Duty Land Tax and registration costs. We need to have cleared funds from you by the Date of Entry by bank transfer no later than the day before the Date of Entry.

Please note that your bank will have a daily limit to the amount you can transfer through internet banking so you may need to make an appointment to make the transfer in branch.

Settling the transaction

On the Date of Entry the Sellers solicitors will send us the title deeds, the Disposition transferring the title in your name and a last minute legal search. In exchange we’ll send the price to the Sellers solicitors by bank transfer. A transaction can settle at any point between 9 and 5 however the normal practice is to aim for 12 noon. Once the last minute legal report has been received and funds have reached the Sellers solicitors bank account we’ll give you a call to let you know when and where you can collect the keys to your new home!

The benefits of paying by cheque

The current Law Society guideline for buying a house is that solicitors should settle most conveyancing transactions by cheque, rather than a telegraphic transfer of funds. Quite often we do not receive a client’s mortgage funds until the day of settlement. If we are relying on funds coming from a sale to fund a purchase, settlement by bank transfer is not easy.

The glitch in the system

Once a bank transfer is instructed all the bank guarantees is that the funds will hit the recipient’s account at some point during that day, i.e., at any time up until 5pm. However, if we are waiting on those funds arriving to then transfer out, there is a cut-off time for instructing transfers of about 3pm so the situation can arise where there is a need to transfer funds out before funds have come in and that is simply not possible.

Avoiding the glitch

If transactions are settled by cheque, although we may ask the other solicitors to hold as undelivered until we confirm that either we have received your loan funds or settled a sale transaction, then a telephone call can be made and the cashing of the cheque authorised. This avoids a potential delay of several hours in the banking system which can occur with telegraphic transfers.

In exchange for the price we will receive the signed deed transferring the property to you, the remainder of the other title papers for the property and you will get the keys!

Registering the transfer of title

Final steps

We then submit the Stamp Duty Land Tax form and pay any tax due and send the deed transferring the title to Register House in Edinburgh to register the transfer of title. This may only take a few weeks. When an updated Land Certificate is issued we will copy this to you and either put the original in our fireproof safe for safekeeping or send it to your lender if they require.

This is only a brief synopsis of what we do for you when buying a house.

No two transactions are the same, however, and we quite often have to deal with other issues that arise; but that’s what we are here for!

They say that moving home is one of life’s more stressful experiences. We hope that from a legal point of view we try to make buying a house as stress free as possible.

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If you are buying a property in Scotland you will need a Scottish Solicitor. Ask about our ‘No Key – No Fee’ special deal where you pay no legal fees if your offer is unsuccessful.

See Properties for Sale in the Scottish Borders