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Guide to conveyancing solicitors in Scotland

If you are moving home in Scotland, we explain the role your property solicitor will take and give you advice on how to get the most out of the Scottish conveyancing process.

Guide to conveyancing solicitors in Scotland

Selling homes in Scotland

The solicitor plays a more prominent role in selling homes in Scotland than solicitors generally do in the rest of the UK. Firstly many Scottish solicitors are also estate agents and as such will act in the marketing process as well as in the legal work. Most solicitors firms which are estate agents also, are members of Solicitors and Property Centres. The centres have property showrooms and newspapers in which all the members and properties for sale are displayed or advertised.

Estate agents do operate in Scotland of course but they have a lesser share of the market than solicitors. Typically in Scotland the solicitor will be the first point of contact for someone planning to sell. The Scottish contracts system is quite different from that in England and early conclusion of the contract is generally expected. Consequently the solicitor will take the following necessary preparatory steps:

  • Property marketing: Checking the title when the property is marketed

  • Transactions: Managing initial transactions

  • Documentation: Sourcing all documentation relating to the home

  • Negotiation: Negotiating the contract on your behalf with the buyer’s solicitor

Moving house in England or Wales? Read our Guide to Conveyancing Solicitors in England and Wales for expert advice and guidance


Finalising your contracts

Your conveyancing solicitor will assist with every aspect of finalising your contracts:

  • Title deeds:Your solicitor needs to get hold of your title deeds and check them in the course of the transaction
  • Land register: The solicitor will search the Land Register carried out to confirm there are no impediments to the sale of the property
  • Missives: Your solicitors will draw up purchase and sale contract letters of negotiation, referred to as missives. 
  • Date of entry: Agreeing concluded “missives” with fixed date of entry which both parties are expected to work towards
  • Paperwork: After the conclusion of “missives” the solicitor will manage the paperwork involved in the legal transfer of the property

Buying homes in Scotland

Most people employ a solicitor when buying a property, because of the amount of money being spent and the complexity of contracts entered into. Although solicitors in Scotland are central to much of the property transaction, because they often market the property on behalf of the seller, their key task is in negotiating and checking the contracts and handling the transfer of the Title and cash.

It is useful to employ a solicitor early on in the process of buying a property, as they undoubtedly will have more experience in the process than you and most work on a fixed fee basis, so the timing rarely affects the cost. There are a couple of steps to purchase a property, which can take many weeks:

  • Setting up a mortgage: This gives buyers a budget to work towards for the purchase. Solicitors, brokers or lenders are usually involved in this process
  • Noting your interest: Once you have found a property for which you are keen to make an offer your solicitor will ‘note interest’ on your behalf.

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Making an offer

These are the steps you can take when placing an offer on a new house:

  • Conditional offer: You may make a conditional offer with a proposed date of entry. Subject to certain conditions being acceptable to the seller
  • Surveying: Some buyers consider having a new property surveyed prior to offering but often nowadays offers are submitted and the survey is only instructed if the offer is to be accepted.

Formalising the agreement

After receiving a full formal conditional offer in writing, the seller's solicitor sends your solicitor the title deeds and search report plus any other documents agreed in the contract. The seller signs the transfer of the title deed, known as the 'disposition'.

  • Mortgage: As the buyer you will need to arrange your mortgage and the seller’s solicitor will prepare the Land Transaction Return for you to sign
  • Request of funds: The seller’s solicitor will request the funds from your lender and any other associated fees in preparation for the date of entry
  • Land and Buildings Transaction Tax: Your solicitor will complete the transaction by paying the stamp duty land tax and arrange for the signed title deed to be registered with the land register. For more information about stamp duty in Scotland, take a look at our stamp duty guide.

    Last reviewed July 2017.

Comments (3)

  • john morren

    posted on 4 Nov 2012

    I sold a croft for £35.000 a fee was of £2.700 was charged. I feel this excessive

    Support for John Morren

    posted on 4 Jul 2015

    John, unfortunately you were well and truly ripped off.

    Annette Pynecarter

    posted on 6 Mar 2017

    All Scottish homes require a Home Report & must be updated. My initial cost was £1500. Revised reports £150. Costs vary on value of property & sometimes on who you engage.

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