Buying a Property in Spending

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A guide to the process of viewing, bidding and buying a property in Scotland.

How do I look for a new house or flat?

The system in Scotland is different from the rest of the UK. You start off just like you would if you were looking to rent a place. You find adverts in papers and online, through word of mouth, or just by spotting a sign in the window.

Unlike renting, though, there are sometimes set viewings (say, on a Sunday afternoon or a Thursday night). You should be able to make other appointments as well. 

It's important to be realistic about what price range you can afford. You don't need the all the money up front but the bigger the mortgage you need the monthly payments will be larger and for longer. A mortgage is a legal agreement with a bank or a building society who will lend money at interest. 

Viewing a property

When you view a property, you’ll usually get a schedule which will include the details of the rooms, the asking price, and usually some photos. You’ll get to have a look around the house, and there will often be someone there who can answer your questions about the place.

As this is obviously a much bigger commitment than just renting a place, make sure you have a good look around. Try not to focus on the décor but think of the room sizes and the possibilities of what the rooms could look like with your possessions in it.

Before you leave the property, make sure you look at the outside of the building. If there are any repairs to the structure of the building, you may have to contribute to this if you buy the property. This is an important factor to consider when buying a house.

Offer over, offers around and fixed price

There are different terminologies which you will have to get used to if you are putting a bid in for a property.

If the price is listed as ‘offers over’, you will have to place a bid over the figure listed. If it is listed as 'offers around' you may have to make an offer around that figure, whilst a ‘fixed price’, means you just bid the figure stated - the first person to come in with the money they’re asking for gets the property.

The recent economic situation have given rise to 'offers around'; with sellers more likely to accept an offer closer to this point rather than exceeding it massively.

Interested in the property?

If you decide you’re interested, ask the owners how long it’s been on the market, when the closing date is, and if they've had much other interest. This will give you an idea of how quickly you have to act!

Next, get in touch with your solicitor – if you don’t have one already, you’ll need one. Your solicitor will handle all the actual buying bits – for a fee, of course. Let your solicitor know that you want to put in a ‘note of interest’. This officially lets the owners know that you are seriously interested.

Getting a home report

As of 1st December 2008, it became law that houses for sale have a Home Report undertaken on the property. A Home Report contains 3 documents; a Single Survey, an Energy Report and a Property Questionnaire. 

The Home Report will be made available on request to prospective buyers of the home. The Single Survey contains an assessment by a surveyor of the condition of the home, a valuation and an accessibility audit for people with particular needs.

The Energy Report contains an assessment by a surveyor of the energy efficiency of the home and its environmental impact. It also recommends ways to improve its energy efficiency.

The Property Questionnaire is completed by the seller of the home. It contains additional information about the home, such as Council Tax banding and factoring costs that will be useful to buyers.

Making a bid

Once you’ve put your interest in, sit back and wait until the sellers set a closing date. At that point, their solicitor will contact your solicitor, and your solicitor will contact you.

At this stage you should decide on a bid and you should receive help from your solicitor. They will usually check what other similar properties in the area have gone for. Your solicitor will put your bid in, and then the sellers decide which bid they are going to accept.

It doesn't have to be the highest big, although it usually is!

Bid successful?

If your bid is accepted, then your solicitors will help with the paperwork and ensure the ‘missives’ are exchanged. The money needs to be in your account when this happens, or you’ll have one massive overdraft. Make sure your mortgage is sorted well in advance.

Once that’s done, both the buyer and the seller are legally bound and you can’t back out without penalty. You’ll get a moving in date and the keys. Don’t forget that you’ll still have to pay your solicitor's fees.

So that’s how it works, but there are still loads more aspects to buying a house that you will discover as you start buying your own property.