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One factor which can add to the stress of the whole experience of moving house is if this will also involve relocating to a new city, or indeed a new country.  You will find our team particularly helpful if this is the case for you. 

We can provide you with a great deal of local knowledge gained through our years of acting in purchases and sales of properties, both in Glasgow and the surrounding areas, as to current market trends.

We can also guide you through some of the differences between the Scottish and English legal systems.

Is the system in Scotland different from England?

Yes, although the basic idea is, of course, the same. 

Perhaps the main difference in practice is that, in England, the system involves an “exchange of contracts” between Seller and Purchaser – signed by each personally – which often happens very shortly before the Seller moves out and the Purchaser moves in.  Up until that “exchange of contracts” there is no binding deal; either party may be able to walk away from the transaction.

In Scotland however “Missives” are usually concluded at a much earlier stage – at which point there is a binding contract so that either party can walk away from the deal.  And in Scotland, these “Missives” are not signed personally by the Seller and Purchaser but by their respective solicitors.

In Scotland almost all residential properties are required to have a Home Report before they can be marketed for sale. This is provided by the seller. The Home Report consists of a Single Survey, an Energy Performance Certificate and a Property Questionnaire. In England the only upfront information required to market a residential property is an Energy Performance Certificate, and any additional surveys are instructed by the prospective purchaser.

In Scotland properties are often advertised at ‘offers over’ a certain price. This price is only a guideline and the seller will be seeking a price which is higher than this value. Arguably, this price should be ignored as it is largely there to attract more interest in the property and is often considerably lower than what the property is actually worth. The Home Report contains a property valuation. This value should be used when considering how much to offer on a property. We often see properties being sold for 10% or above the Home Report valuation, and with our market knowledge we will be able to give you assistance on what an acceptable Offer might be.

Please note that if you are a purchaser and are applying for a mortgage the percentage of borrowing that you will receive from your Lender is based on the lower of the property valuation and the price you pay for the property. You will need to provide any excess funds for your purchase.

When you see a property that you are interested in the normal process would be for you to ask us to make a ‘note of interest’ on your behalf. Noting interest does not commit a prospective purchaser to putting in an offer, but it does mean that they should be notified if a closing date (discussed below) for Offers has been set by the seller. If there are no other notes of interest on a property then the seller may consider an Offer at that stage. If there are other notes of interest then it is likely that a closing date will be set, and prospective purchasers should have a chance on that date to submit an Offer. Under no circumstances would we submit an Offer in advance of a closing date if one has been set.

At a closing date prospective buyers will submit sealed Offers before a certain time on that date. Once the Offers are in the seller will choose the offer they want to accept (this is not always necessarily the highest). The closing date procedure is similar to the ‘best and final Offers’ or ‘sealed bid’ procedure in England. Once an Offer is accepted the seller and purchasers’ solicitors will correspond with each other to progress matters.

In Scotland once an Offer has been accepted the property is taken off the market until missives are concluded. The property remains on the market in England until the contract for the sale/purchase of the property is concluded.

In Scotland, there are what is known as ‘Scottish Standard Clauses.’ These Standard Clauses are incorporated into every Offer automatically. Normally a seller’s solicitor will try to modify or delete some of these Clauses – they may well have a firm policy whereby they delete/modify a particular clause in every Offer, or they may choose to do so dependent on the particular property they are selling. A purchaser’s solicitor will discuss the implications of such modifications/deletions with the purchaser.

Missives are concluded (i.e. a binding contract for a sale/purchase is set in place) without any documentation actually being signed by the seller or purchaser, but we would of course take your instructions throughout the process and would not tie you into a contract without your specific instructions to that extent. The missives comprise the Offer that was submitted on behalf of the purchaser, the written acceptance received from the seller’s solicitors and any further formal letters. These formal letters are all prepared and exchanged through parties’ solicitors. Until missives have been concluded there is no legally binding contract in place and either party can walk away from the sale/purchase. In England, a contract for the sale is negotiated and then signed and exchanged. Often the transaction becomes binding earlier in the process in Scotland than it does in England.

Once missives are concluded there is a binding contract in place for the sale/purchase of the property. There will however be a time lapse between conclusion of missives and the date of entry (the day on which the purchase price is paid in exchange for the keys – otherwise known as ‘settlement’). You will not actually move into the property, or have title to same, until the date of entry. No money will be exchanged until the date of entry (a Deposit may however be payable if the property is a new-build). In terms of the Scottish Standard Clauses, a purchaser is entitled to gain access to the property on no more than 2 occasions after the conclusion of missives.

Contact our Conveyancing Solicitor in Glasgow, Kay Barr

To find out how we can help you or to arrange an initial consultation with one of the best conveyancing lawyers in Glasgow, please complete our online enquiry form or contact us on 0141 248 3456.

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