I’m finding the relocation process from England to Scotland fascinating from a professional point of view. As England and Scotland have different legal systems, many things work a bit (or a lot) differently, which is an exciting learning opportunity for a legal translator like me.
As someone who’s bought and sold a house in England to buy a flat in Scotland, I’m sharing some peculiarities of the Scottish home buying process based on my own experience.
The seller provides a Home Report
In England and Wales, the buyer requests and pays for a Homebuyer Report or Survey, but in Scotland, it’s the seller who must provide prospective buyers with the so-called Home Report. When you’re searching for properties to buy in Scotland, you can download (or request to the estate agents) the Home Report.
The asking price normally depends on the market value of the property as per the Home Report. It tends to be around 25k under the Home Report value, but the seller may set an asking price well below that to gather interest. It’s usually advertised as ‘Offers over’ and not as ‘Guide price’, like in England and Wales.
You’re expected to make an offer over the asking price
No matter what the asking price is, the buyer is expected to make an offer at least 8-10% over the Home Report value. This is quite different to England and Wales, where a ‘Guide price’ is considered the amount the seller wants (they get on average 90-92% of the asking price).
You note your interest before making an offer
In Scotland, you can submit a note of interest to your solicitor to ensure having the chance to put in an offer on a property you really like. When the seller has several notes of interest, they set a closing date for offers and every person interested will be notified. Then you make your offer and cross your fingers. The good thing about this system is that you won’t be missing out on the closing date. The bad thing is that it’s a blind offer process; if your offer is rejected, you won’t know exactly why, you won’t know how much others offered, and you won’t be able to counteroffer. You need to look for another property and start again.
The risk of gazumping is minimal
As no offers can be made after the closing date, if your offer is accepted (and the sale doesn’t fall through, of course) the house will be yours. Most properties in Scotland are sold through solicitor estate agents (bound by the Law Society of Scotland’s guidelines, which intends to prevent gazumping). If, after an offer has been accepted, the seller’s solicitor is approached with another offer, they aren’t allowed to accept it. If the seller wants to accept it, they’ll have to search for another solicitor; that means delaying the whole process, which would endanger their own onward purchase. In theory, there’s a risk of gazumping, but in practice (and compared to England and Wales), it’s almost unheard of.
Contracts aren’t really exchanged
In both England and Wales, and Scotland, the seller and the buyer can walk away from the transaction until a valid contract in writing is formed.
In England and Wales, normally each party signs its own original copy. The process is finalised in a completion call between their corresponding solicitors, who follow the Law Society protocols.
In Scotland, the process is a bit different. Normally, the seller’s solicitor makes a formal offer and the buyer’s solicitor sends an acceptance/conclusion letter which is called ‘missives’. You won’t have signed anything yet at this stage, but there’s a legally binding contract in place.
You don’t pay a deposit
In England, the buyer normally pays a 10% deposit when exchanging contracts and the remaining amount at completion; in Scotland, however, the buyer doesn’t normally pay any deposit and pays the full amount only when the sale is completed (‘settled’), which is called ‘date of entry’.
Related read: 10 Scottish conveyancing terms
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Irene Corchado Resmella
I’m a Spanish freelance translator living in the UK since 2011. After fully renovating and selling a Victorian end of terrace house in Oxford, I recently relocated to Edinburgh with my Scottish husband.
In The Home Reporter I share everything home and lifestyle – from renovation stories and interiors inspiration to tips and anecdotes about buying a house, working from home and relocation. Lover of bright spaces, wooden floors and matte finishings.
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