How Long Does it Take to Buy a House in Scotland?, by Matt Stevens
Property transactions in Scotland generally take around six to eight weeks to complete, but the process can be even faster if it is a straightforward purchase.
However, you’ll also need to take into account the time needed for finding that perfect home which you want to buy, in addition to all the various preparations you should make before putting an offer down.
Timing is very important when you’re getting your foot onto the property ladder, and therefore it can be useful to know how long certain things take so that you can create a defined schedule and plan. For this reason, we’ve put together this piece which will take you through every step of the homebuying process, ultimately answering how long it takes to buy a house in Scotland.
1. Getting a Mortgage in Principle
Before setting out on your Scottish property search, you should ensure that home sellers take your bid seriously. The primary way of doing this is by getting a Mortgage in Principle (MiP). A MIP is a document which provides an indication of what you can afford to borrow from a mortgage lender. A MiP is not a legal requirement, but it does help in showing that you are a genuine buyer. Thankfully, you can get a MiP in a matter of minutes.
2. Finding a Solicitor
You’ll need to find a legal professional who can arrange certain parts of the process for you like conveyancing, property searches, and contract exchanging. This means appointing a solicitor, and in England is a step typically carried out later down the line. However, in Scotland solicitors are responsible for submitting your property offer, necessitating your having one at a relatively early stage. Finding a solicitor can take from a few days to a few weeks.
3. Searching for Properties
After fulfilling the prerequisites, you can begin your property search. It’s a bit harder to set a specific time period for the property hunt because it ultimately depends on how soon you find a house which you like enough to buy. There are various factors which will influence the time taken here, such as the availability of homes in the area in which you want to settle and whether or not you can find a house that aligns with your budget.
4. Requesting the Home Report
A Home Report is a factor exclusive to buying a house in Scotland. Before a seller can list a property, they must have had a Home Report done. This document will contain a property survey, an energy report, and a questionnaire.
You can request a Home Report from either the estate agent or the seller, which you should definitely do because it’s important to know if the house will potentially need any renovations or repairs in the future and how much you can expect to spend on gas, water, and electricity. You can get a Home Report given to you within a few hours, a few days, or the seller may instead refuse if they deem that your offer isn’t serious.
5. Making an Offer
When you’ve found a suitable potential home, you can inform your solicitor of the fact, who will then make a formal note of your interest with the seller. If you are eager, then your solicitor is able to submit an offer in writing on your behalf, where you’ll await a decision with the chance of a back and forth until a satisfactory figure for both parties is arrived at. Again, this can take from a few hours to a few days.
If the seller accepts your offer, you’ll receive a letter stating your “qualified acceptance”. Negotiations between your solicitor and the seller’s will follow, chiefly concerning conditions like what is included within the sale. For instance, certain fixtures and fittings.
Note that if there is collective interest in the property, then you may be asked to make an offer by a selected closing date. This means that the best offer submitted up until the deadline will win, although this doesn’t necessarily mean the highest offer will always be chosen.
6. Applying for a Mortgage
One of the most decisive parts of the home buying procedure is applying and getting approval for a mortgage loan. Unless you’re buying in cash, you’ll need a mortgage to fund your purchase. Being wholly determined by your personal circumstances and individual financial situation, the act of getting a mortgage can vary in complexity.
However, in brief, it will take you a day or two to gather all the correct documents and paperwork you need to fill in the application, which a mortgage broker can confirm the validity of. Secondly, once submitted, your mortgage application will go under for review, this can take up to six weeks. Afterwards, it’s possible that your lender will ask for further information, which will cause a slight delay, and finally, you’ll then be presented with a mortgage offering if your application is successful.
See our guide on how to get a mortgage for more in-depth details on this topic.
7. Arranging a Property Survey
While your mortgage application is being reviewed, it’s a good idea to be ahead of the curve by arranging for a property survey to be carried out on your prospective house. Although the Home Report does include a survey, this is comparatively basic and it’s advised to have more comprehensive detailing on the property’s condition before you make such a large investment. This can save you money which you’d have to otherwise spend on repairs in future, as well as give you leverage during any renegotiations that take place.
Conveyancing is entirely handled by your solicitor and refers to the legal process of transferring a property to its new owner, officially making them the title holder. While your mortgage application is underway, your solicitor will carry out the property searches necessary for conveyancing. These include local authority searches and environmental searches.
For a full explanation, feel free to read our piece on what searches are done when buying a house.
9. Conclusion of Missives
In Scotland, the conclusion of missives is one of the final steps in the home buying process. Once each party is satisfied, your solicitor will sign a document indicating that the conditions of the agreement have been met.
The concluding missive is a binding contract between you and the seller. Subsequently, the date of your entry into the property will be confirmed, and then you’ll transfer the funds to the seller before receiving your keys. Given that this is legally binding, it’s likely you’ll face a penalty if you back out at this point in the transaction.
Lastly comes completion, where you’ll obtain a statement from your solicitor highlighting what you owe. This comprises your deposit, Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (Scottish Stamp Duty), and any extra fees and charges. Before your date of entry, you will be requested to transfer your deposit to your solicitor’s bank account, after which they’ll then obtain the remaining funds from your lender before sending the full amount to the seller’s solicitor. Once everything has been cleared, you will have bought a house in Scotland and you’ll be able to move into your new home!
If you’d like any more information on what it takes to buy a home, then be sure to get in touch with one of our expert brokers at The Mortgage Genie by calling 01915809890. And why not see how much you could borrow up to today by using our mortgage calculator?