The house buying process in Scotland

Our helpful guide takes you step by step through the process for buying a house in Scotland.

  1. Understand how much this move will cost

    Write down how much you’ll be paying for legal fees, lender and broker fees and removals - you’ll see it soon tallies up. You don’t want any nasty surprises further down the line, so plan your budget now. We have partnered with Embrace Financial Services and their professional financial consultants can help you calculate the costs involved in buying a home.

  2. Work out what size of mortgage you can borrow

    We recommend that you make a free initial appointment with our partners Embrace Financial Services to see what kind of mortgage you can afford. Often with access to a comprehensive range of mortgages across the market, the mortgage advisers are in a fantastic position to advise you on a range of options. Usually the advisers will then help you to obtain a 'Decision in Principle' (DIP) from a suitable lender, which will give you the confidence to start looking for a property. A DIP states that the lender could, in principle, give you a mortgage up to a certain amount. When you have found a property you wish to buy, your estate agent will then use this to confirm you are in the required financial position. 

  3. Find a solicitor

    In law, conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of property from one person to another. It’s often a confusing process and you need a solicitor to make it happen. Your Move offers a no sale no fee conveyancing service with a guaranteed fixed price which will introduce you to a solicitor (this excludes disbursements).

  4. Start looking for a house to buy

    You have an idea of what you may be able to afford so it’s time to start looking for a house. Register for daily updates of new properties from property portals and estate agency websites. It’s worth contacting estate agents in the area you are looking too, to get some advice. What are their top tips for up and coming neighbourhoods? And remember, you can save money by thinking outside the box. For instance, surrounding commuter towns may be more affordable than popular cities.

  5. View shortlisted properties

    Once you’ve trawled through listings online, you should hopefully have a few shortlisted. It’s time to book some viewings. Use our house viewing tips to help you get the most out of a viewing. Most estate agents now offer virtual viewings as well as physical viewings so you can get an idea of whether or not you like a property before taking the time to visit it in person. 

  6. Request the Home Report

    If you viewed the property and loved it, it’s time to request the Home Report from the seller. A Home Report (which is provided free of charge to the buyer) contains three elements: the single survey which assesses the condition of the property; the energy report which gives the property an energy efficiency rating; and the property questionnaire which gives an overview of other useful information such as the property’s Council Tax band and alterations that have been made. You may also wish to arrange for a separate survey of the property yourself.

  7. Note your interest

    If you want to proceed after seeing the Home Report, it is usual to ask your solicitor to note your interest to the seller’s estate agent. Once this has been done your interest will be noted and you will be advised if a closing date is arranged.

  8. Make an offer

    Instruct your solicitor to make a written offer. Your solicitor should negotiate the terms of the offer with the seller’s solicitor. Properties will be advertised as ‘fixed price’, ‘offers over’ or ‘offers around’. ‘Fixed price’ means the property could be sold to the first person who offers the advertised price (though if the property has been on the market for some time the seller may accept lower offers). ‘Offers over’ means the seller will usually sell to the highest bidder. ‘Offers around’ means the seller will be willing to negotiate.

  9. Offer accepted.

    If the seller accepts your offer, their solicitor will send a qualified acceptance letter to the buyer's solicitor.

  10. Begin the conveyancing process

    Once you’ve had an offer accepted, it’s time to get the ball rolling on all the complicated legal stuff by instructing your solicitor.

  11. Complete your mortgage application

    Now is the time to get back in touch with your mortgage adviser to agree on a suitable mortgage deal for you and complete the application. This is a good time to consider how to protect your mortgage. What if the worst should happen? If you weren’t around to support them financially – due to illness or death – your family could be under pressure to meet your mortgage payments, or the lender could seek to gain possession of the property.

  12. Mortgage valuation

    The mortgage valuation is contained within the Home Report. If it is more than three months old, the valuation will need to be 'refreshed' and in some cases the lender may want to instruct their own valuation.

  13. Your solicitor will perform searches

    The seller’s solicitor will send the property’s title deeds and certificates to your solicitor who will then check that the property isn’t adversely affected by local authority plans. This is called ‘performing searches’.

  14. Your mortgage is confirmed

    You’ll receive your mortgage offer, plus all the terms and conditions surrounding your mortgage. You will need this before the sale can be concluded.

  15. Conclusion of the missives

    The solicitors must agree on the written negotiations of the sale - the 'missives'. This can only be done once a mortgage offer is received. When the missives are agreed, this is known as 'conclusion of missives'. Both parties are now legally bound to the sale/purchase.

  16. Agree moving dates

    This is known as the date of entry and will have been agreed by both sides prior to conclusion of missives. You can now start contacting removals companies to get quotes.

  17. Insure your home and contents

    This is a great time to get buildings and contents insurance quotes. We can introduce you to Your Move Insurance Services, who offer a range of competitive products from a panel of insurers. To keep things easy, we can arrange for Your Move Insurance Services to contact you to discuss your need. Don’t forget, you need all relevant insurance policies to begin from the exchange of contracts date.

  18. Let everyone know your address is changing

    Your utility companies will need to take meter readings. Write a list of everyone else who needs to know – the bank, your employer, your Grandma so you don’t miss out on a nice Christmas scarf! The Royal Mail can organise a mail redirection, but there will be a charge.

  19. Removals

    Contact your chosen removal company to confirm your move. It’s time to start getting things in order, putting things in boxes and taking things to the tip.

  20. Final conveyancing completed

    The seller's solicitor will draw up the disposition (a document transferring legal ownership). The buyer's solicitor will draw up the Standard Security (the deed securing the loan). The buyer must sign this.

  21. Completion

    The full purchase price will be paid to the seller’s solicitor. Once the money is received, the seller’s solicitor will tell the estate agent to release the keys to the property. The property is now yours. High five!

Please note: It is now a legal requirement for all properties in Scotland to be fitted with sealed battery or main wired fire alarms in specified rooms. These alarms must be interlinked so that if one alarm goes off, all alarms will be activated. Further details are available via the Scottish Government website.

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Find your dream home

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Your initial mortgage appointment is without obligation. Embrace Financial Services normally charge a fee for their services; however, it is payable only on the submission of your mortgage application. The fee will depend on your circumstances but the standard fee is £549. Complex cases usually attract a higher fee. Embrace Financial Services will discuss and agree the fee with you prior to submitting any mortgage application.