Are you house-hunting in the Hebrides, or getting on the property ladder in Glasgow? From the timeline to the jargon, almost everything about the home-buying process in Scotland is different to elsewhere in the UK. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated – we’ve broken it down into simple steps, added a helpful timeline and decoded the jargon for you.
Here’s our 8-step guide to getting on the property ladder in Scotland.
Step 1 – Find a solicitor 💼
Time needed: a few days
When buying a home in Scotland, the first step is to find a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to act for you. Check out online reviews to find a solicitor, or ask friends and family for a recommendation. Your solicitor might ask for a small upfront payment between £100-200, but you’ll usually pay the rest of their bill at the end of the process.
Step 2 – Set your budget 💰
Time needed: a few days
Working out your budget before you view properties will give you a clear idea of which ones you can afford. Head in-app to the Mortgages tab and speak to one of our Moneybox mortgage brokers to get an accurate estimate of how much you could borrow, based on your circumstances.
Remember to factor other upfront costs into your budget, including mortgage fees, moving costs and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (the Scottish equivalent of stamp duty).
Step 3 – View properties 🏠
Time needed: 2-4 weeks
Once you have a budget in mind, it’s time for the most exciting part – looking for your dream home! Find a property you’d like to buy and ask to see the Home Report. All sellers are required to provide a Home Report to serious buyers, which includes an energy report, a property questionnaire with key details and a single home survey (including a valuation).
You can also choose to order a more detailed home survey once you’ve made an offer. If you’re happy with the property and everything included in the Home Report, ask your solicitor to register a ‘note of interest’ with the seller’s agent. This just means you’re keen to hear any updates, but don’t worry, you’re not legally obliged to buy the property at this stage!
Step 4 – Make an offer 📝
Time needed: A few days
Offering on a property in Scotland usually takes place through a blind bidding system, where the seller will ask for offers over a certain price. If more than one person registers their interest, the seller will set a closing date for solicitors to submit formal offers.
You can choose to include certain conditions in your offer for peace of mind, for example, that your offer is subject to a survey. If your offer is successful, your solicitor will be sent a ‘qualified acceptance’, meaning the seller will accept your offer if you can agree on the small print.
Step 5 – Get a mortgage 🏦
Time needed: 1-2 weeks
Now you know how much you’ll be paying for your new home, it’s time to secure your mortgage! If you’ve already spoken to a mortgage broker, you should have a clear idea of how much you’ll need to borrow, but it’s a good idea to check back in with them, as deals update daily.
Our mortgage brokers can help find the right mortgage for you from over 90 lenders, then quickly get your application underway.
Step 6 – Agree the contract 🤝
Time needed: 2-3 weeks
To finalise the contract, your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will negotiate the conditions by sending each other letters known as ‘missives’. Once all the missives have been ‘concluded’ (agreed), the contract becomes legally binding, so it’s really important to be sure you want to buy the property before then!
If either you or the seller pull out of the process after concluding the missives, you’ll face serious legal and financial consequences. Your solicitor will let you know when the missives have been concluded and send you a copy of the final contract.
Check the date from which you’ll need to take out buildings insurance, and consider shopping around for other insurance policies to protect yourself and your new home. You might also have to pay a holding deposit of 10% to secure the insurance deal.
Step 7 – Conveyancing and searches 🔎
Time needed: 2-3 weeks
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership of the property from the seller to you. At this stage, your solicitor will carefully check all the ownership documents for any ‘title burdens’, which are restrictions on everything from parking to how you can use the property.
They’ll also organise other checks known as ‘searches’, which look for things such as the flood risk in the area. They’ll report everything back to you, so you can ask them to explain anything you’re not sure of in more detail.
If you’re happy to go ahead, it’s time to contact your lender and let them know you’re buying the property, so they can line up your mortgage funds for the final stage.
Step 8 – Move into your new home! 🔑
Time needed: 1 day
The final stage of the home-buying process in Scotland is called ‘settlement’ – which is when you get the keys and can move into your new home! Settlement takes place on the date agreed in the contract.
Your lender will transfer the money to the seller’s solicitor, minus any holding deposit you’ve paid. You’ll also pay your solicitor for their fees, plus any Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.
Finally, all that’s left for you to do is pack up ready for the move and organise your first food shop. Congratulations on your new home! 🏡🎉
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
Moneybox Mortgages is provided by Moneybox Mortgages Ltd.