Not many people can buy a property without getting a loan from a bank or building society. So the first thing is to get an agreement in principle from a lender as to how much you can borrow – so you know how much you can offer.

You will want to remember that there are various costs in the buying process including in particular, Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT),legal fees and the cost of registering the purchaser’s title to the property in the Land Register, as well as the removal costs. If you contact us at Raeside Chisholm, we can let you have details of the legal fees, LBTT and registration dues.

  1. Putting in a “note of interest” ie; formally telling the Seller’s Solicitors/ Estate Agents that you are interested in making an Offer;
  2. Making a formal Offer in writing to the Seller’s solicitors/ Estate Agents on your behalf;
  3. Sorting out any conditions of the sale contract (usually known as “the Missives”) with the Seller’s solicitors;
  4. Checking the Seller does indeed own what he or she is selling;
  5. Checking there are no potential problems such as Council repairs or alterations by the Seller which did not have Planning Permission;
  6. Drawing up the deed transferring ownership of the property to you;
  7. Preparing a Land and Building Transaction Tax Return;
  8. Drawing up the “Standard Security” to give your Mortgage Lender certain rights over the property and making sure any “Standard Security” granted over the property by the Seller is discharged; and
  9. Getting the money from your Lenders and paying it to the Seller’s solicitors in exchange for the deed transferring the property to you.

If you find a home you are interested in, ask the Seller or their solicitor or Estate Agent for a Home Report. If it’s public knowledge the house is for sale – it should have a Home Report.

This is a document that tells you everything you need to know about the house. It’s split into three parts – a Single Survey and Valuation, a Property Questionnaire and an Energy Report

Did you know: A Seller or selling agent must give you a Home Report within nine days of you asking for it. If they don’t give you the report within nine days, your local Council’s trading standards services can fine them £500.

This section, based on a visual inspection by a Chartered Surveyor, tells you about the home, its condition, its accessibility and any repairs you may need to carry out.

If any of the repairs are marked as urgent or needing future attention, you should consider whether you can cope with the cost or inconvenience of the repair works.

If you feel you can cope with the repairs, you should get estimates for how much they’ll cost before proceeding. If you don’t think that you can cope with the repairs and don’t want to buy the home any more ,you can walk away at this stage without penalty.

The second section of the Home Report is a questionnaire covering 16 different categories. This is designed to give you more information about the home.

These categories include:

  1. The home’s council tax band;
  2. Any issues that may have affected the home in the past, like firm or store damage or asbestos;
  3. Any alterations or extensions that have been made to the home;
  4. Details of any specialist works or guarantees;
  5. Details of any notices that might affect the home.

The final section of the Home Report gives information on the home’s energy efficiency in the form of an Energy Performance Certificate.

This tells you roughly how much it’ll cost you on average to run the home, taking heating and electricity into account.

It also rates the house’s environmental impact in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.

It also gives you contact details for advice on how to make your home more energy efficient and save fuel costs.

There are some exceptional situations when a seller can choose not to give you a Home Report.

They can only refuse to give you a Home Report if:

  1. They don’t believe you are seriously interested in buying their home;
  2. They don’t believe you have enough money;
  3. They would prefer not to tell their home to you (though they cannot discriminate against you for illegal reasons);
  4. Houses that have been on the market since before 1 December 2008;
  5. New houses that are being sold off-plan or to the first occupier;
  6. Newly converted homes that haven’t been used in their converted state yet;
  7. Right to buy homes;
  8. Dual use homes used for both residential and non residential purposes;
  9. Seasonal holiday homes that can only be used at certain times of the year (not second or holiday homes you could use all year if you wanted).

If a home doesn’t need a Home Report, the Seller must still give you an Energy Performance Certificate.

Properties are usually advertised as being either “offers over a certain sum” or for a “fixed price”.

Generally, with properties advertised for “offers over” a certain sum your solicitor will formally “note your interest” with the Seller’s solicitors/ Estate Agents so that you are told when the “closing date” for Offers will be. On that date, you will have to decide how much to offer – without knowing what anyone else may offer. The Seller’s solicitors/ Estate Agents will then normally open all the offers at the same time and usually the highest offer wins.

A property with a “fixed price” means that it will be sold to the first person who puts in an Offer which is accepted by the Seller. In such a case, it is “first come first served”.

Apart from the price, your Offer will in particular cover a “date of entry” ie; the day on which you will get the keys and any “moveable” items (such as curtains and white goods) which are to be included in the price.

The Offer will also usually include an extensive range of standard conditions as are required for the purchase of any property; and any particular conditions as may be appropriate in your particular case.

The Seller does not have to accept any offer – even if the sale has gone to a “closing date”. But it is unusual for that to happen if the sale has gone to a closing.

If your Offer is successful the acceptance will almost always be a “conditional acceptance”. For example, it may accept the price offered but seek to adjust the “date of entry” or exclude certain “moveable” items (eg. curtains or white goods) from the sale.

There will usually be a series of formal letters (known as “the Missives”) passing between the purchaser’s solicitor and the Seller’s solicitor until all contractual matters between the Seller and Purchaser are agreed. At that point, the “bargain is concluded”.

Once the bargain is concluded, each party is bound by the conditions in the Missives, even though they will not actually have signed any paperwork themselves (as the solicitors will have signed the formal letters which make up the Missives on their behalf). It is too late for either to have second thoughts. Until that stage is reached however, either party can still pull out.

Once “Missives are concluded” it is time for the stuff of “conveyancing”.

All the bits and pieces involved in conveying or transferring the property to the Purchaser is generally termed the “Conveyancing”. It includes, for example:-

  1. Checking the Seller actually owns what he is selling;
  2. Checking the plan of the property in the “Title” or “Land Certificate” matches what the Purchaser has offered for;
  3. Checking that the right paperwork is there for any alterations that may have been made to the property;
  4. Checking the “Title conditions” particularly as regards liabilities for repairs and maintenance of stairwells, roofs, boundary walls or fences etc;
  5. Checking access rights and any restrictions as to the use of the property (eg. in relation to using the property for business purposes, keeping pets or parking);
  6. Making sure that any existing Mortgage on the home is paid off when the home transfers to the purchaser.

If the home you want to buy is newly built or converted, the process of buying it is different.

Most newly built homes are offered by the builder at a fixed price, often before the house or conversion has even been built.

This means instead of you having to make an offer, the builder makes an offer to sell to you.

Most builders have a standard form of offer – they lay out a list of conditions that you will need to agree to if you want to buy the home.

You should arrange a loan and take legal advice before you accept the builder’s offer, because once you do it becomes a legally binding contract.

We do not ask for payment of any fees or outlays upfront. When we are close to the stage of completing the purchase, we will send you a statement taking account of the balance of the price that you are paying (not funded by your mortgage) which will include our fees and outlays, and we ask for payment of the funds at that time.

When we forward a quote to you, we try to include all outlays that will possibly be incurred. These will include the costs of the ID Verification checks which we require to do, in order to comply with the AML regulations, the costs of registering both the title deed in your favour and the Standard Security in favour of your lender, the mortgage administration fee which the lenders charge, and the bank transfer fees for transferring the funds to the Seller’s solicitors. If there are any additional outlays due during the course of the transaction, we would let you know the cost, but these would certainly not be anticipated.

Clients often ask us how much they should offer to be successful, and you will appreciate that we can only at best give general guidance, although this will take account of our experience in the area, and any market conditions. If you are making an offer and no closing date has been set, we would generally advise that an initial offer is placed at a slightly lower level than you would be happy to pay, as this will allow some “wiggle room” if the estate agents come back with a counter offer.

If, however, you offer at a closing date then our advice will be different. You will only have one chance to make an offer for the Property, and you will be offering against other parties, and therefore the offer that you make should therefore be your best offer. You should gauge this by offering such a price, that if the offer is successful, you are not overly worried that you have offered too much and, on the other hand, if we subsequently have to advise you that your offer has been unsuccessful, you do not regret not having offered more. If you are offering at a closing date we would also advise that the price is not a nice round figure but is an odd figure.

If your offer is successful, we will generally not be told how much the next highest offer was. If your offer is unsuccessful, we will often be able to get some information about how much you missed out by, which information can help you with further offers.

When we initially provide our quote to you, this is in respect of the full transaction, from start to finish, and includes up to 3 unsuccessful written offers. If you have to offer for more than 3 properties, we do reserve the right to charge an additional fee. In practice however, we would not charge an additional fee unless we have submitted an extremely high number of offers on your behalf, or alternatively you wish to make offers at a level which is contrary to our advice, which is that there is no chance of the offer being accepted.

When Home Reports were first introduced it was on the basis that a Purchaser no longer required to instruct and pay for a separate survey. Although the Home Report is instructed by, and paid for, by the Seller, the surveyor still has a duty of care towards prospective Purchasers. If you take entry to the Property and find that there is a substantial defect which a reasonably competent surveyor would have been expected to advise upon, you would have the same rights against the surveyor as you would have if you paid for your own survey.

Some lenders require their own valuation report to be carried out, but this is in addition to the Home Report survey.

The advice of the Law Society of Scotland is that a Purchaser should not rely on a Home Report which is more than 12 weeks old. If the Home Report is older than that, then we would ask the Seller’s solicitors to provide an updated report.

This is a question we are often asked, but the short answer is that you won’t! The “Missives” is the term used to describe the contract between the Seller and the Purchaser. The missives themselves comprise of the Offer that we submit on your behalf, the “Qualified Acceptance” which is the written acceptance issued by the Seller’s solicitors, and any further formal letters which are then exchanged between the respective solicitors until all points are agreed. As a consequence you will be contractually bound to proceed with the purchase even though you have not signed any documentation – but rest assured that we will take your instructions on every step of the way, and you will be kept fully up to date on the missives position.

Once your offer has been accepted, you will not be allowed to view the Property again until after missives are concluded, and you are tied into a binding contract to proceed with the purchase. Between that point and the date of entry, the Standard Clauses provide that you will be allowed access on up to 2 occasions, to take measurements etc.

After the Offer has been accepted, the most important thing is to start the process of submitting the full mortgage application as, to a large extent, this is what shapes how long the process will take. Although you will have mortgage approval in principle prior to putting in the offer, the process to obtain the full mortgage offer will normally take around 6 weeks. We will not issue a formal letter to tie you into the binding contract until we have received the full mortgage offer.

We will also not be able to conclude missives on your behalf until we have all documentation which we require to comply with the anti-money laundering regulations with regard to which you can see below.

Once your offer has been accepted, the estate agent will pass it on to the solicitor instructed by the Seller, and once they have taken instructions from their client, the will issue us with their Qualified Acceptance, along with copies of the title deeds, and the relevant Property searches. We will contact you again at that time to explain the documentation received, and to deal with any questions that you may have, but note that it can take a week or two (sometimes longer) for the Seller’s solicitor to contact us, after receiving our offer.

All solicitors are required to comply with the anti-money laundering regulations (AML regulations). To do this we need to show not only that we have seen photographic ID of our clients and proof of their address, but also evidence that they have all funds that we are getting from them in their own account, as well as evidence of how they came to have these funds.

If any part of the money has come from a third party (for example, if your parents are gifting funds to you, even if they have already transferred them) we would also need to see proof of name and address ID, and proof of the source of funds from that third party. Again, if you are obtaining a gifted deposit, it is important that you let your mortgage lender know, as we also require to advise the mortgage lender of this as part of the process to obtain funds from them, and it can cause difficulties and delays if they are not already aware of this.

Before any funds can be sent to us, we need to see a bank statement showing that they are held in an account in your name.

As above we need the money immediately before the Date of Entry, which is the date when you will get the keys. Again, as a consequence of the AML Regulations it is important to note that we need the money to be transferred to us in one payment. It is often the case if you have online or telephone banking, that there is a limit on how much you can transfer in any one day and, because of this, it may be that you need to go into a branch to arrange for payment in one sum. It is also important to note that all funds required must come from your account. We cannot accept any third party payments made directly into our client account.

Around 30 days before the expected Date of Entry you will need to close your Help to Buy ISA Account with the Bank/Building Society and obtain from them a closing statement. The bank may take up to 7 days in providing you with a closing statement, but we will not be able to claim the bonus until you have this.

Once you have the closing statement you should let us have a copy of this and we will prepare a first time purchaser declaration for you to sign. Once this has been signed, we will then submit the application to the agency acting on behalf of HM Government requesting the bonus. The bonus amount will be confirmed and paid to us to allow us to use it in relation to the purchase of your new Property.

Generally there are time limits on seeking the withdrawal, depending on which financial organisation your LISA is with. You should contact your LISA manager to ascertain when you must make the withdrawal application, and the time that they require to interact with us – generally speaking you should allow a minimum of 30 days to draw down these funds. You should then provide the LISA manager with our details, and they will write to us with the relevant declaration forms for completion. Different LISA managers have different requirements, and we will let you know if we need further information from you.

The Additional Dwelling Supplement is calculated at 6% of the price of any Property for which you are paying a price of £40,000 or over. This applies to a buyer who owns, more than one dwelling, anywhere else in the world, on the date of purchase. You need to be aware, however, that if you are married or living with someone then the fact that your spouse or partner owns a Property could mean that you yourself are also liable to pay the Additional Dwelling Supplement, as you are treated as one unit for the purposes of this tax.

There is actually no guaranteed time on the Date of Entry when you will get your keys but as a rule of thumb, they should normally be available around noon/early afternoon. The keys will generally be released by the Estate Agents once the Seller’s solicitors confirm that they hold our funds for the price.

After we settle the transaction, we will write to you to confirm the final stages, and we will deal with registration of the title in your favour. Once the title deeds are issued (which is now only done electronically), we will forward you a copy of the titles for your records.

As a Purchaser, you expect the Property which you have bought to be in good condition when you get the keys. In fact, in terms of the Standard Clauses, the Seller only has two obligations with regard to the house:-

    1. To leave it in the same condition as when you viewed it, fair wear and tear excepted and;
    2. To leave the central heating system, electric and drainage systems in working order commensurate with their age.

If you take entry and either of these are not satisfied, then we are able to go back and raise the issues with the Seller’s solicitors provided that, firstly we are able to intimate the issues in writing within 5 working days of the date of release of the keys; and secondly, the cost of the repair, or repairs, exceeds £400.

Generally speaking, unless it is an emergency situation, the Seller would have the right to have the item fixed themselves, and you cannot simply go ahead and have it fixed and expect the Seller to pay the cost.

In terms of the regulations brought into force on 1st February 2022, residential properties have to have satisfactory equipment to detect fire and carbon monoxide in place. When the regulations were introduced, many solicitors were including a condition in their offer that the Seller required to confirm that the Property met with the standards required by these regulations.

This is, however, no longer the case, as the Law Society have advised solicitors that this should not be included – the reason for this is that it is the case that there are many other regulations that apply to properties as well as these regulations, such as energy efficiency or technical matters relating to gas and electrical systems. On the basis that these are technical matters rather than strictly legal ones, such conditions should not be enforced by conveyancing solicitors. You need to therefore ensure that you are satisfied yourself when you view the Property that the relevant regulations are covered.

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