The process for buying or selling a house falls into three main stages:
Putting in an offer
The official legal process usually starts with the buyer making a legal offer to purchase the property.
Before that, a buyer may have already noted interest in a property with the estate agents. This means that the estate agents should keep the buyer informed about any developments, such as the fixing of a closing date.
If a closing date is fixed, all interested parties will be invited to submit a legal written offer by a certain date. Usually, but not always, the highest offer is accepted and anyone who made an unsuccessful offer will not have the opportunity to increase or amend the offer.
If there are no other interested parties, then a buyer may wish to go ahead and submit an offer. As matters can proceed quickly, a buyer should have arrangements in place to finance the purchase. If you need a mortgage, we recommend getting an agreement in principle from your chosen lender before making an offer.
After the offer is accepted
Once an offer is accepted, the solicitor for the buyer will examine the title deeds and also the conveyancing reports to ensure that there is a good title to the property and that there are no matters which might adversely affect the property, for example planning proposals. The solicitors for both the buyer and seller will also draft and adjust the formal letters which will constitute the contract between the purchaser and seller. This process is referred to as concluding missives.
Before completion the solicitor for the seller will get a statement from any lender, confirming the balance of any outstanding mortgage. The buyer's solicitor will also request funds from any new lender. Both solicitors will prepare completion statements, confirming any balance due to be paid to or by their client to complete the transaction.
Please note that you may be asked to provide evidence of the source of any deposit. This is to ensure that the solicitor complies with any money laundering requirements.
If you are financing part of any deposit from a gift or loan from a family member, please make sure that tell your mortgage adviser. You also need to tell your lender before drawing down any loan funds.
Exchange of keys
On completion, the solicitor for the buyer will send the funds to the seller's solicitor. When the funds have been received and the seller has vacated the property, the keys will be released to the buyer, usually by the estate agents.
The solicitors will then both attend to registration at the Land Register of Scotland and will complete any as the payment of Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT) formalities.