The Conveyancing Process - A Step By Step Guide

So you're looking to buy a property? Let us talk you through the process...

06 July 2022

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Conveyancing is the legal process that takes place after you have agreed the main details of buying or selling your house. It involves creating a contract that leads to ownership being transferred from one person to another. This is done by way of missives, which are essentially the exchange of letters between the buyer and seller’s solicitors.

So you’ve found a property you like and you have approached a solicitor to work on your behalf, what next?

Before you get started

Before you start house-hunting, it is essential that you have a mortgage agreement in principle from your lender. Your solicitor will not put an offer in for you without it.

You should also be prepared to provide ID, to verify this ID, and to provide source of funds information in respect of your deposit.

Noting interest

Once you have your solicitor and mortgage agreement in place, you’re ready to start noting interest and submitting offers. But what does this mean?

If you have viewed a property you like, you have two options: -

  • Note interest. This will inform the selling agents that you are an interested party and that you want to stay informed of any updates. Once enough interest is generated, the property will go to a closing date. This is where interested parties have a chance to submit an offer – a little like a blind auction!
  • Submit an offer. If you already have an offer in mind and want to avoid a closing date, you can ask your solicitor to submit an offer on your behalf. This allows a little more back and forth between you and the seller; you can make multiple attempts as opposed to going in blind.

In both instances, your solicitor will put together an offer with your proposed purchase price. This offer will also clarify your buying position, eg. whether you are subject to sale or to a successful mortgage application.

Reporting on Title

Once your offer has been accepted, the seller’s solicitor will send copies of the title deeds to your solicitor. Your solicitor will examine these and issue a report on title to you confirming the extent of the property and any conditions of ownership.

It is important that you read both the Report on Title and the deeds to fully satisfy yourself.

Missives

The contract to purchase is formed through formal letters known as missives, usually comprising the offer, a qualified acceptance, and a series of further letters back and forth between the solicitors until an agreement is reached.

Note that until the point at which missives are concluded, either party can walk away from the contract without penalty.

You will not be permitted to view the property again until after the missives have been concluded.

Further documentation

Your solicitor will draft an LBTT form for you to sign to acknowledge that you are aware of the Land Buildings Transaction Tax applicable to your purchase. The rate at which LBTT is charged is dependent on the purchase price. You can find out more about LBTT on the Revenue Scotland website.

If you are getting a mortgage, they will also draft a deed known as a Standard Security for you to sign.

Your solicitor will liaise with your lender to ensure that your funds will be available on the day of settlement.

It is important to note that if you already own property, your purchase will be subject also to ADS (Additional Dwelling Supplement). This can be reclaimed if you sell your main residence within eighteen months.

However, the rules governing ADS are complicated and there may be instances when ADS cannot be reclaimed. You should inform your solicitor at the earliest opportunity if you own any rentals, second property or holiday home etc.

Disposition

The seller’s solicitor will send the Disposition (the deed transferring ownership), the keys, and any ancillary documentation to your solicitor to be held as undelivered pending their receipt of the price. Once an exchange has been made, the transaction will be treated as settled and your keys will be released to you.

Your solicitor will then register the Disposition with Registers of Scotland and, once this has been processed, they will provide you with updated Titles showing that you are now the owner of your new property.

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Trainee Solicitor

Jessica Armstrong