RICS Consumer Guide: Buying a Home in Scotland

RICS Consumer Guide: Buying a Home in Scotland

When you buy your home, you can take advantage of expertise and in-depth knowledge of the Scottish market from the outset by using an RICS estate agent who follows the highest professional standards.

Buying a home is a significant purchase and an exciting life event. But it can also be daunting. And there is a strict legal process you have to follow. There are also differences in the process between Scotland and England.

When buying a home, you can take advantage of expertise and in-depth knowledge of the Scottish market from the outset by using a local RICS estate agent. RICS professionals can also help ensure you have an in-depth understanding of the property prior to purchase.

Generally, the main stages of buying a home in Scotland are:

  • Choosing your property
  • Requesting a home report from the seller
  • Hiring a solicitor
  • Making an offer
  • Arranging a further survey
  • Financing your property
  • Exchanging of missives
  • Settlement (completion)

The main differences with the process for buying a home between Scotland and England are:

  • Pricing: In Scotland, properties are listed with either a ‘fixed price’ or ‘offers over’ price. For ‘offers over’, buyers will make written bids, which will then be considered by the seller.

  • Home Report The Home Report is a mandatory document provided by the seller to prospective buyers that provides information on the property, including basic information on repair, energy performance, and value. They are not required for new build properties.

  • Tax: In Scotland, buyers are responsible for paying the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), with Stamp Duty abolished in 2012. Full details on the LBTT banding can be found here. There is also the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) to consider if you are purchasing a second home.

  • Terminology: Instead of the exchange of contracts, solicitors in Scotland exchange official letters known as ‘missives’. The sale is legally binding once these missives are concluded.

  • Property Law: In Scotland, it is most common for property and respective land to be held under ‘outright ownership’, as opposed to England, where a mixture of freehold and leasehold tenures is common.

Professional advice is available at every step of the journey from surveyors, solicitors and mortgage advisers. Beyond buying a home, RICS professionals can also assist with maintenance and repair, designs, extensions, boundary disputes, and retrofit and energy efficiency measures.

In Scotland, the requirements around maintenance and repair – particularly in multiple occupancy buildings such as tenements - and energy efficiency are evolving. Understanding your home, the operation of the building, and shared responsibilities with other tenants is essential in confirming your choice of home is right for you, as well as ensuring value for money and protecting your investment.

RICS surveyors act to the highest professional standards, providing objective and expert advice to consumers and businesses. Read more in the clear, impartial RICS Buying a home in Scotland guide above.

Further resources for buying a home in Scotland can be found below: