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A Guide to Conveyancing in Scotland


Written by

3rd Jan 2023 (Last updated on 15th May 2024) 7 minute read

When it comes to buying and selling a property in Scotland, some elements will differ from the process across the rest of the UK. One of those elements is the conveyancing process.

Conveyancing is the legal aspect of a property transaction to officially change ownership from one person to another. This is carried out by a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer.

Compare My Move works with experts in both property and law to bring you the most up-to-date and accurate information on conveyancing and the property market. From Land Building and Transaction Tax to missives and home reports, we look at the conveyancing process and help you navigate the house-buying process in Scotland.

  1. How is Conveyancing Different in Scotland?
  2. How Much are Conveyancing Fees in Scotland?
  3. How Long Does Conveyancing Take in Scotland?
  4. What is a Solicitor/Estate Agent?
  5. What is a Note of Interest?
  6. What is a Home Report?
  7. What Are Missives?
  8. What is Land Buildings and Transaction Tax?
  9. Finding a Conveyancer

How is Conveyancing Different in Scotland?

In many areas of Scotland, estate agents will handle the conveyancing process. As a result, conveyancers are much more involved in the selling process than in the rest of the UK.

The stage of exchanging contracts in the rest of the UK is known as “missives” in Scotland. Rather than exchanging contracts, missives are a series of letters between the parties' solicitors.

Other differences include needing to provide a “Note of Interest''. This is where a buyer must inform their solicitor to note their interest in the property with the selling agent. Additionally, Stamp Duty has been replaced with Land Buildings and Transaction Tax (LLBT) in Scotland.

How Much are Conveyancing Fees in Scotland?

Conveyancing fees in Scotland do not vastly differ from the rest of the UK in 2024. For buying a house, the fees are £1,139 and for selling it is £1,270 on average. This is calculated from our data based on the UK average price of £285,000. Your overall costs will depend on the value, size and location of the property in question.

Our Conveyancing Fees Calculator can give you an estimated cost. This is based on the value of the property and whether you are buying, selling, or buying and selling.

Not only will you pay the solicitor’s legal fee, but you will also need to pay conveyancing disbursements. These are fees your solicitor will pay for on your behalf which you will then reimburse them for. This includes conveyancing searches (property searches) that provide essential information. This includes flood risks, radon gas levels and planned developments on nearby land.

Remember that you can save on your costs by comparing conveyancing quotes.

How Long Does Conveyancing Take in Scotland?

According to Huuti Money, it may take between 4 and 8 weeks to buy a house in Scotland. This is in contrast to the 8 to 12 weeks it takes on average in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Be aware that some transactions can take longer depending on the circumstances.

There is no exact time scale when it comes to conveyancing. On average, the conveyancing process in Scotland is considered quicker than in the rest of the UK. The process starts once an offer is accepted on a property and ends when the new ownership is registered with the Land Register of Scotland.

The Stages of Conveyancing

  1. Your conveyancer will advise you on making or accepting an offer
  2. Letters (known as “missives” are exchanged between solicitors to determine the details of the contract. This includes price, date of entry, essential checks and any special conditions. The seller signs a disposition and the buyer signs a standard security.
  3. Once the above has been agreed, missives are concluded.
  4. Next, the funds will be transferred from the buyer to the seller
  5. The buyer can then obtain the keys to the home
  6. Finally, the buyer’s solicitor will register the title with the Registers of Scotland. Any Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) will be paid at this point.

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What is a Solicitor/Estate Agent?

In Scotland, many conveyancing solicitor firms are also estate agent firms. They are responsible for marketing your home and negotiating with potential buyers, as well as the legal aspect of the sale.

Solicitor estate agents are usually members of Solicitors and Property Centres. They are also bound by the Law Society of Scotland’s guidelines. More traditional estate agents do operate across Scotland but they have a lesser share of the market.

The Law Society of Scotland’s guidelines are designed to reduce the risk of gazumping. Once a conveyancer has accepted an offer on behalf of the seller, they are not allowed to accept a subsequent offer from someone else.

If another offer does come in and the seller wants to accept it, their solicitor must withdraw from acting on their behalf. The seller will then need to find another conveyancing to complete the sale. This adds to the time it takes to buy or sell a house and can potentially add to the cost of selling the home in Scotland.

What is a Note of Interest?

Once you have found a home to buy in Scotland, your solicitor can formally note your interest with the selling agent.

This does not commit you to the purchase but it will mean you will be updated on developments. These include when an offer needs to be made and the closing date when the seller stops accepting offers. From here, the seller will decide which offer to accept.

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What is a Home Report?

The Home Report is a document that the seller must legally provide to any potential buyer. A buyer can request this via the seller's solicitor or solicitor estate agent. This is a legal requirement for anyone who is marketing a property in Scotland. It provides essential information about the home to prospective buyers.

Unlike in the rest of the UK, where a buyer arranges a survey, the Home Report must be arranged and paid for by the seller.

The Home Report includes three parts, one of which is an inspection of the home known as the Single Survey. A RICS-registered surveyor carries this out. The other parts include a Property Questionnaire and an Energy Report. The Property Questionnaire covers 16 different categories and is completed by the seller.

The cost of a Home Report will need to be considered when preparing to sell a home in Scotland.

What Are Missives?

Missives are a series of letters exchanged between the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors to negotiate and agree on the final terms of the sale. This is the equivalent of the exchange of contracts in England and Wales. Within these letters, the parties involved agree to various terms and conditions, and the seller will formally accept the buyer’s offer.

These letters will go between parties until a qualified acceptance has been reached, known as “the conclusion of missives”. Be aware that if you are pulling out of a sale in Scotland, you must do so before the conclusion of missives. Once missives have been concluded, neither the buyer nor the seller can pull out of the transaction.

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What is Land Buildings and Transaction Tax?

Land Building and Transaction Tax (LBTT) replaced Stamp Duty in Scotland in April 2015. It is administered by Revenue Scotland, with support from the Registers of Scotland (RoS). LBTT will usually be paid by your solicitor on your behalf.

As with Stamp Duty, LBTT must be paid on transactions for homes worth over a certain amount of money. Tax is payable at different rates on each portion of the purchase price within specified tax bands.

Properties up to £145,000 in Scotland will not incur LBTT. There is relief for eligible first-time buyers, meaning they don't pay LBTT on properties under £175,000.

The current rates and bands for residential LBTT are listed below:

Purchase PriceLBTT Rate

Up to £145,000


£145,001 to £250,000


£250,001 to £325,000


£325,001 to £750,000


Over £750,000


Additional Dwelling Supplement

When buying a property in Scotland, the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) may apply. It is a charge added to any LBTT if you buy an additional residential property in Scotland. Examples include rental properties, second homes and holiday homes.

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Finding a Conveyancer

At Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to 6 conveyancers to save you up to 70% on your conveyancing costs. All our conveyancing partners have passed our strict verification process for your peace of mind. This means they are all regulated by either the SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI or CILEx.

Need a Surveyor?

Once you've found a conveyancer, you soon might need the help of a RICS property surveyor. Simply fill in our integrated conveyancing and surveying comparison form to get connected today.

You can compare companies through our integrated conveyancing and surveying form by filling out a few extra steps. We will then connect you with local conveyancers and surveyors to save on the whole process.


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