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Guide to Buying a House in Scotland

Adele MacGregor

Written by

28th Oct 2021 (Last updated on 16th Sep 2022) 6 minute read

When it comes to buying a home, there are various stages and expenses to consider. If you’re buying a house in Scotland, some of these factors differ from the rest of the UK.

The average cost of buying a house in Scotland is £22,242, which is cheaper than the UK average. This is due to the average house price being lower in Scotland. Additionally, it is the seller who arranges a survey, not the buyer.

Other differences include submitting a note of interest, the Home Report and "Missives". Here, we provide an understanding of the steps and costs involved in the Scottish house-buying process.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Budget and Save
  2. Getting a Mortgage
  3. Hiring a Conveyancer
  4. What is a Note of Interest?
  5. What is a Home Report?
  6. Making an Offer
  7. Do You Need an Independent Survey?
  8. What are Missives?
  9. How Much Does it Cost?
  10. How Long Does it Take?

Budget and Save

Buying a property will most likely be one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime. Before you find a home you want to buy, you must first arrange your finances.

The biggest cost when buying a house is the mortgage deposit. This is the percentage of the property price which you pay upfront. The remaining amount is what you loan, known asa mortgage.

Most mortgages will require a 10% minimum deposit. However, some lenders may offer you a mortgage with a 5% deposit. Additionally, you will need to pay a conveyancer, mortgage fees and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.

It is essential that you have the funds required before starting the buying process.

Getting a Mortgage

Before getting approved for a mortgage, you must get a mortgage in principle. This is the lender's world that they would lend you a certain amount of money if you are approved.

The lender can also give you an idea of whattype of mortgage is best for you and your circumstances. This does not guarantee you a mortgage, but it will give you an idea of how much you can borrow. It also shows the seller that you are serious about purchasing the home.

When you know how much a lender is prepared to loan you, you can tailor your property search around it. At this point, you can research what areas and property types are best for you.

Once your offer for a property has been accepted, you can start the formal mortgage application.

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Hiring a Conveyancer

Once you found a property you want to buy, you will need to hire a conveyancer.
Conveyancing is a key part of buying a house, which is why it is so important to find a trusted professional.

During the process, your conveyancer will liaise with the seller’s conveyancer. In Scotland, many conveyancing firms are also estate agent companies. These are known as Solicitor Estate Agents. This means they will handle the legal aspect of the sale and the marketing of the property on behalf of the seller.

Your conveyancer will make you aware of any updates and important aspects of the sale. This includes submitting a note of interest, the date to make an offer and the conclusion of missives. Your conveyancer will be part of the buying process right up until the property is in your name.

To read more about the conveyancing process in Scotland read: A Guide to Conveyancing in Scotland

What is a Note of Interest?

A Note of Interest is when your solicitor formally notes your interest in a home with the selling agent.

This does not commit you to buying the home but it will mean you will be kept updated on developments. These include when an offer needs to be made and the closing date for offers.

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What is a Home Report?

Unlike the rest of the UK, in Scotland, it is the seller who arranges a survey, known as the Home Report. This is then distributed to prospective buyers.

The Home Report comes in three parts:

  • The Single Survey
  • An Energy Report (including an Energy Performance Certificate)
  • A Property Questionnaire

The Single Survey and Energy Report must be completed by a RICS registered surveyor. It is the seller who completes the Property Questionnaire.

The report is designed to provide essential information about the home to potential buyers. This allows you to make an educated and informed decision on the property. It can also help you decide what offer to submit for the home.

Mortgage Valuation Report

Your mortgage lender will want to make sure the property you are buying is worth the price you have agreed to pay. Some lenders in Scotland may use the valuation within the Home Report if it contains one. Otherwise, they will arrange for an independent valuation. This is a cost which you will need to factor in unless the mortgage offer comes with a free valuation.

For more information on the Home Report read: The Home Report: Sellers Survey in Scotland

Making an Offer

Making an offer is another aspect that differs when buying a house in Scotland. Written offers are submitted to the seller once they state that they are ready to accept them. These must be submitted before the closing date set by the seller. After this date, the seller decides which offer to accept.

It is worth noting that a seller may not always accept an offer based on the highest amount offered. The circumstances of the buyer and whether they are in a chain may also contribute to their decision.

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Do You Need an Independent Survey?

A survey is not mandatory in any part of the UK, but it is recommended. As a Home Report is supplied by the seller in Scotland, buyers may not arrange for their own survey on the home. For newer homes and those in good condition, the Single Survey element of the Home Report will most likely suffice.

But, if the property is older, unsual or in poor condition, it is worth considering a RICS Home Survey Level 3. This will review the property in-depth, including the construction and grounds. It will outline any defects with the property and the urgency in which they will need to be remedied.

What are Missives?

Missives are a series of letters exchanged between the buyer's and the seller’s solicitor. The purpose of these letters is to negotiate and agree on the final terms of the sale. This is equal to exchanging contracts in the rest of the UK.

Within the letters, the parties involved agree to various terms and conditions. This is also where the seller will formally accept your offer. Missives will go between parties until a qualified acceptance has been reached. This is known as“the conclusion of missives”. Once this happens, neither you nor the seller can legally pull out of the transaction.

How Much Does it Cost?

The average cost of buying a house in Scotland is £22,242. These are based on the average property price which is currently £187,517 according to the UK House Price Index.

Below we’ve provided a breakdown of the cost of buying a home in Scotland:

ServiceCost

Deposit (10%)

£18,751

Mortgage feesFrom £270*

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT)

£850

Conveyancing

£1,190*

Removal Company Cost

£1,181*

*based on UK averages

What is LBTT?

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) is essentially Stamp Duty in Scotland. It replaced Stamp Duty in April 2015. This is required for all first homes over £145,000 and on all second homes. The exception is first-time buyers who do not need to pay LBTT on properties costing under £175,000.

Details of LBBT rates and thresholds can be found in the table below:

House PriceFirst HomeSecond Homes

Up to £145,000

0%

3%

£145,001 to £250,000

2%

5%

£250,001 to £325,000

5%

8%

£325,001 to £750,000

10%

13%

£750,001+

12%

15%

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How Long Does it Take?

It can take between four and eight weeks to buy a house in Scotland according to Huuti Money. In the rest of the UK, the average time is eight to twelve weeks. Be aware that some transactions can take longer than others depending on individual circumstances.

Adele MacGregor

Having written for PerformanceIN, WalesOnline, Grazia Magazine and The Olive Press, Adele now writes advice articles for home movers, first-time buyers and house sellers alike.