Whether you are buying or selling property in Scotland, you will experience a process called conveyancing. It can be a confusing process for buyers and sellers particularly if they are new to buying and selling or if they aren’t used to the Scottish system. The purpose of this article is to answer some of the questions property buyers and sellers often ask us about the conveyancing process.
What is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal process which takes place after you have agreed often verbally the main details of buying or selling your house. The principle elements are missives, searches and checking title. The various steps in conveyancing ensure that the buyers get what they think they are purchasing, and they help to prevent the buyer from landed with significant costs after they have bought the property.
The contract that contains the terms and conditions of the transfer of ownership from one person to another is called the missives. Missives is an old word for letters and surprisingly it still involves the exchange of letters between the buyers and sellers’ solicitors.
The conveyancing process contains additional searches carried out on the property and on the parties involved in the transaction. It’s the seller’s obligation to prove that they are actually entitled to sell the property. The lawyers check for any outstanding communal repairs and that the property complies with local regulations and wither any alternations are accompanied by the necessary permissions and paperwork.
It’s one thing viewing a property and making an offer on it, but how do you know that the property includes all of the grounds surrounding the property. The buyer’s solicitors check the title, carrying out a series of legal checks to make sure that you get what you actually believe you’re buying.
Stages of the Conveyancing process
Once the offer is accepted, the buyer and sellers’ solicitors must negotiate the terms of the contract by way of an exchange of missives. This includes agreeing things like the date of entry and any additional extras like light fittings that should be left in the property. The seller’s solicitor must send the buyers solicitor the title deeds of the property as well as the search of the land register to show that there is nothing to prevent the seller from selling the property.
The conclusion of this contract is called the ‘conclusion of missives. The buyer’s solicitor will then ask the buyer to send the required purchase funds to that solicitor’s specific bank account. The buyer’s solicitor will also request any mortgage funds from the mortgage lender where appropriate.
On the date of entry, the buyer’s solicitor pays the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor. The seller then gives the buyers solicitor the paperwork that facilitates the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. All being well, when the buyer’s solicitor confirms that they are happy with the paperwork, and the seller solicitor confirms they have received the purchase price the transaction is treated as settled. The buyer often picks up keys from the sellers or from the sellers’ solicitors or estate agents and they can begin the process of moving into their new home.
The final steps in the process are for the buyer’s solicitor to inform the land registers that their client now owns the property and to pay any Land and Buildings Transaction Tax that the buyer has to pay to the government.
How long does the Conveyancing process take?
The length of the conveyancing process varies from transaction to transaction and it’s often dictated by the length of time that the seller wants to remain in their property after the agreed sale. On average there is usually six to eight weeks from the sale being agreed to the date of entry. There are some factors which can affect the length of time of the conveyancing process which include:
The seller not owning the full extent of the property or being legally prevented from selling the property for example if the property is subject to legal proceedings.
Addition paper work being required in relation to alterations, but being difficult to obtain
In Edinburgh, Statutory Notices can apply to the property and often require a significant amount of additional legal work to satisfy the buyer and the seller that they are adequately covered in the event of a statutory notice ever being enforced
Additional anti-money laundering checks being legally required before the property transaction can settle. Occasionally because the buyer hasn’t known or hasn’t disclosed to their solicitor that the source of purchase funds includes coning from a relative or in the case that the seller has decided that the sale proceeds should be paid to a different party.
How long does it take to conclude missives?
Since conclusion of missives involves the buyer being contractually bound by the property, the buyer’s solicitor cannot conclude missives until they can be sure that the buyers are able to pay for the property for sale. Most property purchases involve a mortgage. It’s not possible to submit a full mortgage application until the seller has accepted the buyers offer. If the buyers mortgage lender takes six weeks to process the mortgage application and to send out the mortgage offer, it’s highly unlikely that the buyer’s solicitor will be in a position to conclude missives until they have the mortgage offer in their possession.
If you’d like to more about the conveyancing process in Scotland or have any questions relating to buying or selling a property give us a call on 0131 608 0175 or email us at email@example.com and we’ll be delighted to help.
Andrew MacKenzie is a qualified Chartered Surveyor with over 20 years’ experience within the Scottish Property market. He specialises in all types of residential valuations including Home Reports, Private Valuation reports and Development Appraisals.
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