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Guide to Selling a House in Scotland

Adele MacGregor

Written by

17th Sep 2021 (Last updated on 26th May 2022) 6 minute read

Selling a home can be daunting wherever you live, but when it comes to selling a house in Scotland, there are some variations and differences throughout the process to the rest of the UK.

Unlike in Wales, Northern Ireland and England, where the buyer organises a property survey, it is the seller who is responsible for a Home Report in Scotland. What is known in the rest of the UK as “exchange of contracts” is instead a process called “Missives” and “Completion Day” is known as “Date of Entry”.

Compare My Move work with property and legal experts to bring you the most accurate and timely information on the process of selling a home in Scotland, from the Home Report to Missives, this guide will prepare you for putting your home on the market and accepting an offer.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Get a Property Valuation
  2. What is a Solicitor Estate Agent?
  3. Completing a Home Report
  4. What is a Note of Interest?
  5. Closing Date and Accepting an Offer
  6. What are Missives?
  7. What is Date of Entry?
  8. Next Steps of Selling a House

Get a Property Valuation

First and foremost, you will want to have your property valued so that you can set an asking price for your home. This can be supplied by a Chartered Surveyor in Scotland, a selling agent or via Scottish property market websites.

A valuation will take into account the size and condition of the home and the location. This will give you a guide when setting a price, ensuring you do not set a high and unrealistic price nor do you price your home too low.

What is a Solicitor Estate Agent?

Much like the process of selling a house, the conveyancing process in Scotland is different for those both buying and selling. Many solicitor firms are estate agent firms known as “Solicitor Estate Agents”.

Not only are they responsible for the legal aspect of the property sale, but they will also handle the marketing, negotiations and initial transactions of the sale. Appointing a solicitor estate agent gives you a full-service team, simplifying the process.

Solicitor estate agents are usually members of Solicitors and Property Centres and bound by the Law Society of Scotland guidelines. These are designed to reduce the instances of “gazumping”, where a seller accepts a second, higher offer after accepting an offer from another buyer.

Under the guidelines, as a seller in Scotland, if you want to accept a higher offer, your solicitor must withdraw from acting on your behalf and you will have to find another solicitor to complete the sale. This can result in the sale taking longer and add to the cost of selling your house.

To learn more read: Guide to Conveyancing in Scotland

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Completing a Home Report

The next step is to arrange and complete a Home Report. As of December 1st 2008, this is a legal requirement when selling a house in Scotland.

Unlike the rest of the UK, where the buyer arranges an individual survey, the Home Report is the responsibility of the seller. This is provided so that potential buyers can make an educated and informed decision on the property purchase.

The cost of a Home Report will depend on the size of your property and can range from £585 to £820 on average. The documents within the report are designed to give the buyer an overview of the condition and value of the property, its energy efficiency and any information about the home that could influence their decision to purchase.

The Home Report is split into three parts which we have reviewed below:

Single Survey

The Single Survey is undertaken by a RICS accredited surveyor who will review the condition of the property and highlight any areas of the home where there are concerns or work is required. This includes:

  • Age, construction and materials used to build the property
  • Windows
  • Gutters
  • Plumbing
  • External and internal walls
  • Bathroom and kitchen fittings.

Energy Report

A surveyor will also be responsible for the Energy Report, which provides details of the energy performance of the home. This will review how the property uses and conserves energy, looking at aspects such as the boiler, loft insulation and light bulbs. This gives the buyer an idea of energy costs before they commit to buying the home, including an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

The Energy Report can also give indications of any improvements which may be required to increase the home’s energy efficiency, for example, improved insulation and doubled glazed windows.

Property Questionnaire

The Property Questionaire is the third part of the Home Report and its purpose is to provide potential buyers with helpful information about the property. This must be completed honestly and accurately by the seller and they must not withhold any information deemed relevant to the sale.

A Property Questionnaire is nine pages long and designed to be straightforward enough for the seller to complete unaided. However, if you are unsure of any part of the Property Questionnaire, consult your conveyancing solicitor or surveyor.

The information provided is designed to give a clear picture of the property and the surrounding area. This includes:

  • Alterations on the property (including extensions)
  • Council Tax Banding
  • Parking
  • Any history of flooding
  • Any local authority notices
  • Details of ground rent on the property if it is leasehold
  • Charges for upkeep on any communal areas (if applicable)

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What is a Note of Interest?

A Note of Interest is when a potential buyer instructs their solicitor to formally register interest in your property. This is not legally binding but it does mean that the buyer will be updated on when an offer needs to be made, the closing date of when you stop accepting offers and any other developments relating to your property and the sale.

Closing Date and Accepting an Offer

A closing date is a date set by which time all prospective buyers must submit a written offer for your property. As mentioned above, buyers must submit a Note of Interest in order so they can be notified of the closing date.

This is in effect a blind bidding system, with you as the seller picking the best offer from the written offers. The amount offered and also the purchasers’ circumstances and ability to proceed with the purchase should all be taken into consideration before accepting an offer. Keep in mind that the highest offer may not always be the best offer for you, especially if you want to move quickly.

Accepting an offer from a buyer is not legally binding however, as mentioned above, if you accept an offer and later opt to accept a higher offer, your solicitor must withdraw from working on your behalf and you will have to find another solicitor to represent you and complete the sale.

Once the offer is accepted, the buyer’s conveyancer can then arranges the required searches on the property and the sale can move forward.

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What are Missives?

In simple terms, Missives is to Scotland what Exchange of Contracts is to the rest of the UK. It is after this point in the process that the sale is legally binding. Missives are a series of letters that are exchanged between the seller and the buyer’s respective solicitors.

These letters negotiate and agree to the final terms of the sale and it is through these that the seller will formally accept the buyer’s offer. These are exchanged until a qualified acceptance has been researched. This is known as “the conclusion of missives”.

What is Date of Entry?

Date of Entry is the day the sale is completed, known as Completion Day in the rest of the UK. By this point, you should have moved out of the property and given the keys to your solicitor.

Your solicitor will deliver the keys to the buyer’s solicitor along with a formal document called a disposition, which transfers the ownership of the property.

Next Steps of Buying a House

This article has been part of our home selling guide. Now that you know the process, the next step will be learning the true cost of selling a house. In our next article, we explore the total costs involved with selling, from solicitor fees to removal costs. To find out more read cost of selling a house.

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.