Is buying a property in Scotland easier?

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I was interested to read this month that statistics show the property market in Scotland is flourishing, with some reports showing that the market has soared to an 11-year high ahead of Brexit. Edinburgh – where the average home now costs £264,943 – remains the most expensive place to buy a home, just ahead of neighbouring East Lothian, where prices have jumped 15.2% to £260,399*
 
I’ve had the pleasure of working with clients in Edinburgh for over 3 years now and I can’t help feeling that maybe part of this is due to the Scottish buying process being quicker and simpler than the rest of the UK. The process can even be broken down into 6 simple steps:
 
Step 1 – Get a mortgage ‘in principle’
Step 2 – Find a solicitor
Stage 3 – Home Report and survey
Stage 4 – Making an offer
Stage 5 – Agreeing the contract
Stage 6 – Completion and final steps
 
When you’re looking to sell your property in Scotland, you need to arrange a Home Report, this provides a potential purchaser all the information they will need, including market value and energy reports and any other important information. This also means that as a purchaser you have all the details you need to put in an informed offer.
 
As a buyer you register your interest in a property with the estate agent, this does not mean you have to put an offer in, only that the estate agent must keep you updated of any changes and let you know if there are any other interested parties. Once there are a few interested parties you put in your best and final offer. If accepted, that is an agreement made, no messing around, no gazumping or gazundering. Doesn’t that seem easier?
 
Because you already have the Home Report and hopefully your mortgage broker has secured you a decision in principle from a competitive lender, all the documents will be sent to your lender and once reviewed by an underwriter the offer will be produced. Usually, once your offer is agreed, you have around 6 weeks to conclude Missives – (Exchange of contracts), then that is it the deal is done.
 
You have an entry date set when your offer is agreed, that is the date you are moving in and when the deposit and mortgage are drawn down. It is that simple.
 
It’s worth mentioning that there are some downsides. The property market in Edinburgh is currently booming and properties are often known to sell over the market price provided in the Home Report. The mortgage loan to value is based on the Home Report valuation, so if you are paying above that it will be coming out of your back pocket, you, therefore, need to make sure you have savings.

Stamp Duty or the Land and Building Transaction Tax is higher than the rest of the UK and there are currently no extra benefits for first-time buyers. 

 All that said and done, as a mortgage broker in Edinburgh I can’t help feeling the process is a better one.
 
*Figures sourced from Aberdein Considine’s Scotland’s Property Monitor Autumn 2019.

Residential LBTT tax rates and bands for 2019 to 2020 financial year remain unchanged from 2018 to 2019 and are set out in the table below. Source:  https://www.gov.scot/policies/taxes/land-and-buildings-transaction-tax/
 

Purchase price

LBTT Rate

Up to £145,000

0%

£145,001 to £250,000

2%

£250,001 to £325,000

5%

£325,001 to £750,000

10%

Over £750,000

12%

 

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