Scotland: from Sale to Completion

Last week we touched on the average duration a sale of a property can take, at each stage, covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has a different set of rules in terms of the time the process is allowed to take and this article will take a more in depth look at how typically the process plays out if you are buying or selling a home in Scotland.

The following article is intended to be a guideline for prospective buyers and sellers in Scotland, as each individual sale will be judged on its own merits and will therefore take a different length of time.

There are a number of factors which can dictate how long a property might take to sell, and similar to England, Wales and Northern Ireland it can vary between 6 weeks to 8 months. One of the most important things to organise before you put your house on the market is organising a home report. This is designed to ensure that before your house goes up for sale that any potential buyer will have everything they need. This is something your estate agent or solicitor will be able to help you with and includes a survey with gives the condition and value of the property, an energy report and a property questionnaire.

Once an offer is accepted it is generally termed “accepted in principle”, meaning that any conditions of your offer would need to be met. This offer is a document which contains clauses for the buyers protection, with guidance and any other conditions. These negotiations may continue after an offer has been formally accepted and will often include any additional items which might be included in the sale of the property. It is at this stage that you would need to start finding a lender and applying for your mortgage. Your lender may also require an additional survey to be carried out on the home that your wish to buy, other than the homebuyers report, to confirm that the property is worth the money that is being leant and also to confirm that the property is structurally sound. Your solicitor will check the land registry and the local authority for any planning applications and/or developments locally for drainage, roads or mining which might be scheduled take place near the property.

When buying a property in Scotland you will come across the term ‘missives’, which are the negotiations of the sale as noted above. Once the missives have been concluded and all conditions met you will agree a date for you to legally take over the ownership of the property. It is at this stage that you are contractually committed to purchasing the property. This is on average take between 2 to 6 weeks. The conclusion of missives to the day you take ownership of the property is on average 1 day. Once the conclusion of missives has taken place you hand over the rest of the money for the property and you will become the legal owner. This therefore is a much quicker process than its counterparts south of the border, with the maximum time from offer to date of entry being six weeks.

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