Selling in Scotland

Read Springbok Properties tips about selling in Scotland

The process for selling property in the UK depends on where the property is. If you’re selling in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the process is the same.

But Scotland is different.

In Scotland, putting your property on the market contractually binds you to completing the purchase if you receive an offer.

Springbok Tip: we operate throughout the UK, so there’s no need to worry about selling in Scotland. We’ll take care of everything for you and explain anything you don’t understand. It’s the same positive Springbok experience, wherever you sell!

Solicitors start early

Traditionally, the Scottish process is quicker than the rest of the UK and, despite recent changes that make things a bit more difficult, this is still frequently true. The main reason for this is that your solicitor gets involved right from the start, before you even put the property on the market.

In Scotland, the selling process consists of five major parts:

  1. Appoint a solicitor
  2. Confirm the sales particulars
  3. Receive offers
  4. Missives negotiation
  5. Complete the sale

These parts all occur in order, with the property going on the market between Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Stage 1: Appoint a solicitor

This part of the selling process works the same as elsewhere in the UK.

Before you market your property, you need a solicitor. Fees in Scotland work in the same way as anywhere else. A solicitor may charge for time, a fixed fee or a percentage of the property price. Make sure you check which method yours uses and only sign if you’re happy with the quoted figures.

You should also use this time to prepare your property for sale and sort out the Home Report. This is an information pack that contains three documents required by the government for any property sale:

  1. A Single Survey containing detailed information about the property’s condition, in a similar way to the Homebuyer’s Report used elsewhere.
  2. An up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate, the same as everywhere else in the UK, which must be displayed in the property.
  3. A Property Questionnaire, which covers 16 different areas of information, from council tax band to issues that have affected the property in the past (asbestos, fire, storm damage, etc.), any changes that have been made to the property, and details of other issues which will affect the new owner.

Once this is all in motion and the solicitor confirms, you can contact an estate agent and put the property up for sale. Of course, if you’re using Springbok, call us first and we’ll sort everything out with much less hassle!

Stage 2: Confirm the sales particulars

Your solicitor will send you a draft of the sales particulars. It is vital that this document be accurate, or you’ll run into trouble under the Property Misdescriptions Act. Go through the document carefully, make any changes, sign and date it and return it to the solicitor.

Stage 3: Receive offers

The viewing process in Scotland is just the same as elsewhere: interested individuals make an appointment through your chosen estate agent, visit the property and walk around. Read the section on getting the most out of viewings to ensure buyers are encouraged as much as possible!

Offers work differently in Scotland.

When a buyer makes an offer in Scotland, they make a legally-binding contract with you to purchase your property. As soon as an official, written offer is received by your solicitor, the property is effectively sold and everything else is down to the details. Offers may be made “subject to survey”, which some buyers use to make sure there’s a safe exit, though often it’s just because they really want to check the survey results.

Upon receipt of an offer or a note of interest (see below), many Scottish homeowners set a “closing date”. This is the final date by which any further offers must arrive. The obvious advantage of this is that the seller can leave the property on the market for a while to see if there’s more interest, rather than accepting the first offer that comes along.

Noting interest.

Because offers are binding, there’s an additional stage in the process, called “noting interest”.

Instead of diving in headlong and making an offer, buyers who are interested send your solicitor a “note of interest” through their solicitor. This document says that the buyer is interested in the property and would appreciate the opportunity to make an offer.

Noting interest does not guarantee that the buyer will make an offer, nor does it stop you from accepting an offer from another buyer, though this is considered bad practice if there are active notes – especially if there’s also a closing date.

Stage 4: Missives negotiation

Once you have received all the offers and reached the “closing date” (if you set one), you must choose which offer to accept. You don’t have to accept the first offer or the highest offer, but you do have to accept one of those available.

Your solicitor then sends a “written qualified acceptance” which accepts the offered price (usually), but qualifies this acceptance with a list of legal clauses. In other words, you accept in principle but still get to hammer out the details.

The solicitors take over from this point. In the best of all possible situations, the buyer agrees to the legal clauses your solicitor included in your acceptance. Their solicitor sends an acceptance and everything moves on to conveyancing and completion.

Of course, this doesn’t happen very often. Normally, the two solicitors send each other a lot of official letters, called “missives”, negotiating every clause and disagreement. This back-and-forth negotiation can be short, but it can drag on for ages.

Once everything is sorted out – the “conclusion of missives” – you and the buyer have an agreed, binding legal contract for the sale. You can now book your removals company and advise people of your change of address. It’s the equivalent of the exchange of contracts stage elsewhere in the UK: the sale is certain.

Stage 5: Complete the sale

Scottish property law has roots in feudal systems, rather than the Roman-based law used everywhere else in the UK. However, modern conveyancing is very similar, so you can refer to our section on this for more details. The few minor differences do not change the overall process.

All that remains is for the completion day to arrive, which is handled the same as elsewhere in the UK. Congratulations on your property sale in Scotland!

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