Here they are with our quick answers

Five questions we are asked about buying and selling a home in Scotland


Questions Answered

Can I make an offer to purchase without a solicitor?

You can make a verbal offer yourself to a property seller, or to their solicitor or estate agent (frequently in Scotland the roles are combined) although it won't have legal status. Property in Scotland cannot be bought or sold without a written contract, so a shake of hands will not suffice either. Many solicitors/estate agents won't consider your offer unless it has come through a solicitor. Given the importance of offer conditions, apart from basics such as price and entry date, on things like adequacy of title and other key aspects of the deal, written offers without professional guidance are not recommended. You want to be thinking about being in touch with your solicitor at the earliest opportunity, ready to make a formal offer on your instructions for a property you are interested in purchasing. 

Do I need a solicitor to buy a house in Scotland?

You have to use a solicitor or qualified conveyancer to undertake the legal, or conveyancing process including title transfer, searches, funding/mortgages, stamp duty and so on. Once you have chosen your solicitor or conveyancer, they will be there to help you through the whole process - from negotiation right up to the hand over of keys.

Can I pull out of a house purchase in Scotland after offering?

In Scotland the buyer's solicitor makes a formal written offer to buy and the seller's solicitor accepts it in writing (these are called missives), usually subject to qualifications passing back and forth in this way until the parties are both fully agreed on terms - at which point the contract is concluded and binding (the equivalent of exchange of contracts in England). Until the missives are concluded, either party is not bound by and can legally withdraw from the negotiation without penalty. However under Scottish solicitors practice and code of conduct rules missives imply a commitment to proceed, thus if contrary instructions, or instructions to withdraw without proper or
sustainable reason, are given the solicitor must withdraw from acting for the party concerned, and charges for services to date would be incurred.

Can you sell your house without a solicitor?

Technically it is possible to sell your property without the services of a solicitor or qualified conveyancer, however purchasers may well insist on a solicitor being involved on the seller's part; and professional advice would be strongly recommended in the interests of the protection of your contractual and other legal interests in the property.