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Guide to conveyancing in Scotland when buying and selling

Moving home in Scotland is a slightly different process to England and Wales. Have a look at our overview of the Scottish conveyancing process.

Guide to conveyancing in Scotland when buying and selling

What is conveyancing? 

Conveyancing is the legal side of a property transaction that officially moves ownership from one person to another. It’s carried out by a chartered conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor. Whilst they’re not quite the same thing, their roles in a property transaction are exactly the same. You can hire one or the other. 

How much does conveyancing cost? 

The cost of conveyancing covers a number of things such as disbursements and property searches. As a result the cost of conveyancing can vary hugely depending on the transaction and the property. But reallymoving data from January-August 2019 puts the average cost as just under £1,500. For First Time Buyers, it's just under £1,000.

To get a more accurate estimate, you can use our Moving Cost Calculator. Just make sure the location is set to ‘Scotland’ when you view your results.

Conveyancing when selling properties in Scotland 

Solicitors play a more prominent role in selling homes in Scotland than they do in the rest of the UK. Many Scottish solicitors are also estate agents and will be responsible for: 

  • Marketing: checking the title when the property is put on the market 
  • Transactions: managing initial transactions 
  • Documentation: sourcing all documentation relating to the home 
  • Negotiation: negotiating the contract on your behalf with the buyer’s solicitor
  • Local authority searches: to identify planning permission, restrictions, road maintenance responsibilities and more
  • Finalising your contract: assisting with every aspect of finalising your contracts. This includes checking the title deeds, carrying out land register searches, drawing up the missives (contracts), and agreeing the date the transaction is completed, known as ‘settlement’ 

Solicitors firms which are also estate agents are usually members of Solicitors and Property Centres. Property centres have showrooms which advertise available properties from members. Estate agents do also operate in Scotland but they have a lesser share of the market. 

A solicitor will be the first point of contact for someone planning to sell. The Scottish contracts system is different from that in England. The exchange of contracts is also usually finshed quickly, leading you to a swifter completion date. 

Conveyancing when buying properties in Scotland 

You need a solicitor when buying a property in Scotland as well. It's worth getting a solicitor early on in the process. Many work on a fixed fee basis so the timing rarely affects the cost. They’ll help you with many stages of the process, including: 

  • Setting up a mortgage: this will help you decide on a budget to work for 
  • Noting your interest: your solicitor will do this on your behalf when you find a property you want to make an offer on 
  • Making an offer: can be conditional or pending a survey (although this is unusual as the property’s Home Report will include a Single Survey
  • Formalising the agreement: after a conditional offer has been received by the seller, your solicitor will carry out a number of tasks such as preparing the final paperwork and organising the transfer of funds 

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax 

Land Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) is a key part of conveyancing in Scotland. LBTT is the Scottish equivalent to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in England and Northern Ireland, or Land Transaction Tax in Wales.

LBTT falls into bands, depending on the value of the property. It will usually be paid by your solicitor on your behalf. There are two key differences between LBTT in Scotland and its equivalents in the rest of the UK: 

  • Rates: The rates and bands that LBTT is based on are slightly different in Scotland 
  • Payment method: LBTT is managed by Revenue Scotland with the help of Registers of Scotland (RoS). So, any payments would go through them and not the HMRC 

Like with Stamp Duty and Land Transaction Tax, there are First Time Buyer exemptions for Stamp Duty/LBTT. From June 2018 First Time Buyers purchasing a home under the property price of £175,000 will not pay LBTT. However, this is currently irrelevant as the threshold has been lowered for everyone in order to help the housing market recover from the coronavirus pandemic. So, the current bands are as follows:  

Purchase price 

LBTT 

Up to £250,000 

0% 

£250,001 to £325,000 

5% 

£325,001 to £750,000 

10% 

Over £750,000 

12% 

  

There may also be different rates if you are buying a second home or a Buy to Let property. To read more, and to calculate your LBTT bill, visit our LBTT calculator

Because of Home Reports, and the fact that a conditional offer is a legally-binding contract, the property buying or selling process in Scotland is largely regarded as quicker and safer than the rest of the UK. This is because there’s no chance of being gazumped or gazundered. If you have more questions about conveyancing in Scotland, you should ask your solicitor. And if you haven’t got a solicitor yet, you can get quotes for solicitors with reallymoving

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