Six step guide to buying a property

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Find out how the Scottish property process works and when you will need to pay for various things along the way!

Stage one - Find a solicitor

You will need a solicitor before you can make an offer on a property, so it makes sense to make finding your solicitor one of the first things you do in your property buying journey. Solicitors are responsible for putting in the offer, negotiating and checking the contract as well as organising the transfer of the Title and money.

When you have found a property you want to buy, your solicitor will register a 'note of interest' with the seller's agent. This shows that you are interested in the property and want to be kept up-to-date with any developments including the fixing of a closing date to submit offers.

Your solicitor will undertake searches in the property and personal registers to ensure that there is nothing which might prevent the seller from being able to sell the property.

The solicitor will also check with the local authority to see if there are any planning issues that might affect the value of your property and whether any roads next to the property have been adopted by the local authority.

Most solicitors request payment for their work after completion but you may have to pay a deposit, or pay for searches upfront.

If the sale doesn’t go ahead, but you paid for the search upfront you will not be entitled to a refund.

Use our handy find a solicitor search to find a solicitor to help you in your buy-to-let property purchase.

Stage two – Get a mortgage ‘in principle’

Before you can bid on a property, you need a mortgage lender to confirm that it is prepared to lend you money. This is called a mortgage ‘in principle’. Without this, your offer won’t be taken seriously.

Independent mortgage advice is available from our independent mortgage brokers. Located in the ESPC showroom on George Street, Edinburgh six days a week they available to talk about all things mortgage related.

Stage three – Home Report and survey

Before marketing the property for sale the sellers must arrange a Home Report. This must include:

  • Single Survey
  • Energy Report
  • Property Questionnaire

Once you have a mortgage in principle, your lender will arrange for a mortgage valuation to make sure the property you’re buying is worth the price you’re paying.

Your mortgage lender may rely on the mortgage valuation contained in the Home Report or they may request an independent valuation.

Stage four – Making an offer

Once you have the survey results, and are happy with what it says, you need to decide how much you’re going to offer. The amount you offer will depend on how much you can afford, any competing interest in the property, property prices in the area and anything else you wish to be included in the offer such as fixtures and fittings.

Your solicitor will do this in in a formal letter. If there are several competing bids, the seller’s solicitor will open them at the same time on the closing date and ring your solicitor to tell you if you’ve been successful or not.

If your offer is accepted, the seller’s solicitor issues a qualified acceptance, which means that the property will be yours if contract details can be worked out. The solicitor will also hand over information about the property such as the title deeds and planning papers.

Go through everything you receive with your solicitor as they may raise queries about the paperwork. Neither you nor the seller is committed yet.

Stage five – Agreeing the contract

Once all the contract details have been agreed, the two solicitors exchange letters. These letters are known as ‘conclusion of missives’. Both parties are now legally committed to the sale.

Your solicitor will check the title deeds and discuss with you the ‘title burdens’ – conditions attached to owning the property ranging from where rubbish bins can be put to more serious restrictions on how the property can be used and altered.

The seller then signs the transfer of the title deeds, known as the ‘disposition’.

Next, you or your solicitor should contact your mortgage lender and let them know that the purchase is going ahead along with the proposed date of entry.This will allow your lender to issue their loan and security instructions to their nominated solicitor.

This will also allow the lender to prepare the release of their loan monies to allow the sale to complete on the date of entry.

Stage six – Completion and final steps

After your offer has been accepted, the sale will be completed on the date of entry agreed with the seller.

The seller’s solicitor will ask your lender for the remaining money owed (usually 90% if you had to pay a holding deposit) in preparation for the date of entry. If you are a cash buyer you’ll need to pay the rest of the purchase price via your solicitor.

You are now the proud owner of your buy-to-let property. Find out how ESPC Lettings can help with the advertising and management of your property.