The following is our guide to purchasing a property and the various steps involved:
It is always best to have a mortgage in principle before you start looking to buy a property. As soon as your offer has been accepted by the sellers you should contact your lenders or financial adviser so that you can begin the mortgage application process (we are not involved in this). Once your offer of loan has been issued, your lenders will send a copy of this to us along with the solicitors’ legal pack. We will then deal with the documentation required to obtain your loan funds and to register your lenders’ security over the property. Before the date of entry for your purchase you will have to sign what is known as a Standard Security. This is the deed which gives your lenders the right to repossess your property if you default on your mortgage. Your lenders will release the loan funds direct to us, and you should arrange to transfer enough money to cover the balance of the purchase price (often called the “deposit”) and the fees and outlays to us before the date of entry for your purchase.
OFFERING FOR A PROPERTY
The first stage in purchasing a property is to make an offer and have your offer accepted by the sellers’ solicitors or estate agents. The procedure for making an offer and having your offer accepted depends on whether the property is advertised as “offers over/offers around” or “fixed price”. Our experienced team can advise you in relation to your offer with their wealth of knowledge on local properties.
Once you have had an offer accepted by the sellers, and any conditions of the offer relating to issues arising from the Home Report, updated Home Report and/or independent survey have been agreed with the sellers, the property is treated as “under offer” to you. The sellers’ solicitors or estate agents will usually withdraw the property from the open market at this stage, although they may wait until the contract is concluded before doing this (see below for details of concluding the contract).
You should be aware that when you instruct us to submit an offer for a property on your behalf, the sellers will expect you to be willing to conclude the contract for the purchase within a reasonable time (usually around 1-2 weeks). If you are not willing to do this, we must tell the sellers’ solicitors and the sellers will then decide whether they are still willing to sell the property to you. If they are not willing to wait for you to conclude the contract they may decide to re-market the property.
The offer is only the first part of the contract and it contains many conditions. The sellers’ solicitors will send a copy of our offer to the sellers and then discuss all of the conditions with the sellers and help them to decide which ones they are happy to accept, which ones they would like to reject, which ones they would like to change, and also whether they wish to add any further conditions into the contract.
The sellers will usually wish to make at least a few changes to the contract, and the sellers’ solicitors will send us a letter known as a Qualified Acceptance which sets out these changes. We will discuss these changes with you and if you are happy to accept them we will send a letter to the sellers’ solicitors confirming that you accept the changes and that the contract is now concluded (i.e. legally binding). If you want to make further changes to the contract then we will send a letter setting out these changes to the sellers’ solicitors. The sellers’ solicitors will then send a copy of our letter to the sellers and discuss the changes with them.
This procedure continues until one party is happy to accept all of the conditions in the last letter from the other party’s solicitors. As soon as a letter is sent from one party’s solicitors to the other party’s solicitors accepting all of the conditions in the other party’s solicitors’ last letter, the contract is concluded and legally binding. The process of concluding the contract usually takes around 1 – 2 weeks from the date on which the property is “under offer”. Until the contract is concluded, either party can pull out of the transaction without penalty.
Conveyancing is the process of transferring title from the sellers to you. The sellers’ solicitors will send the title deeds for the property to us so that we can examine them on your behalf. We will write to you advising you of the description of the property and any title conditions affecting the property. If there are any problems or issues arising out of our examination of the title deeds we will deal with these as appropriate.
We will draft the title deed which will be signed by the sellers to transfer the title to you, and the forms to be submitted to Registers of Scotland to register your title as owner of the property. If you are getting a mortgage, we will also draft the Standard Security for you to sign in favour of your lenders.
On the agreed date of entry we will pay the purchase price to the sellers’ solicitors on your behalf (usually by way of solicitors’ cheque) in exchange for the keys, the Disposition by the sellers in your favour, the rest of the title deeds, and any other relevant documentation. We usually send our cheque to the sellers’ solicitors the day before settlement to arrive on the morning of settlement, and likewise the sellers’ solicitors usually send the keys, Disposition, title deeds etc. to us the day before settlement to arrive on the morning of settlement.
Settlement takes place as soon as both parties are in a position to settle, which will be when both parties’ solicitors have received the appropriate settlement items from the other party’s solicitors, when we have all your money in our account so that we can authorise the sellers’ solicitors to cash our cheque, and when the sellers’ solicitors have confirmed that we can release the keys to you.