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Whether you are a first time buyer, looking to move house or even pick up an investment property, now is a great time to buy. Recent research shows that the number of house purchases in Scotland has increased over the last 12 months. 

Once you have found the right house, you will need to instruct a solicitor to submit an offer to the seller’s solicitor on your behalf. Offers in Scotland must be in writing as verbal offers/agreements are not legally binding. Before submitting the offer, your solicitor will need to know details such as price, how the purchase is being funded ie. mortgage, savings, gifted deposit etc. Proposed date of entry and any extras included in the deal are also important for the offer.

Your solicitor can also offer advise on how much to offer on the property, based on current sales statistics and their experience in the local market. The expert Property Team at Innes & Mackay have a depth of knowledge in relation to the market in the Inverness and surrounding areas. As highly experienced negotiators, they always secure the best deal for their clients. 

The speed of the whole process can vary due to a number of factors, but on average, it is usually 6-8 weeks from the offer date to the move-in date. The sooner you have your finance in place, the quicker the process can be concluded.

Offers in Scotland are based on a standard contract known as the Scottish Standard Clauses. The standard contract was originally founded by forward-thinking solicitors in Inverness and has been adapted and adopted across Scotland. It is advisable to familiarise yourself with these conditions before you look to buy a property. Your solicitor will be happy to provide you with a copy, prior to submitting an offer. These clauses are also available online.

You will not be able to secure a mortgage offer until you have found a property, but your solicitor can make an offer conditional upon mortgage. At Innes & MacKay, we recommend you seek advice from your mortgage provider or broker and obtain a decision in principal before submitting any offer. If you have to sell in order to buy, ideally you will have already exchanged contracts or concluded missives on your current property, but your solicitor can also make the offer subject to sale of your own property. You should at least have an acceptable offer on your current property before making an offer, so that your offer is taken seriously.

An offer is not normally met with a binding acceptance right away. Normally the offer is qualified to incorporate any conditions the sellers would like to include in the sale. This is usually forwarded to you by your solicitor. When any conditions in your offer are able to be removed (eg. when you have a mortgage offer and/or the contract is in place for any sale) your solicitor can then proceed to tie up the contract. Once these conditions are accepted by the purchaser there is a binding contract. An unconditional offer can be accepted outright, but that is quite rare as that makes the contract legally binding immediately. If you are making an unconditional offer, please make sure you understand the legal implications of doing so. Your solicitor will want proof that the necessary financial arrangements are already in place to ensure you can pay for the property.

The Scottish Government recently introduced Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Additional Dwelling Supplement which means that if you purchase a property before completing the sale of your own property you will be liable to pay the equivalent to an additional 3% tax on the full price of the new house. You should be able to reclaim this from Revenue Scotland if you then complete the sale of your old house within 18 months.

There is very little for you to sign when you buy a house as your solicitor does of all of that for you. Your solicitor signs the contract letters or “missives” and will provide you with copies of all formal contractual documents. Where a mortgage is involved you will be required to sign a Standard Security which is the document that secures the mortgage against the property.

Contact Innes & Mackay Propery Solicitors in Milton of Leys, Slackbuie & Westhill, Inverness & Highlands

Please do contact the Property team at Innes & Mackay if you have any questions about property transactions and/or require a solicitor to represent you in a forthcoming sale or purchase.