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Moving from England to Scotland – when are missives concluded?

01 July 2021 Property & Estate Agency Garry Sutherland

In September last year, the Scottish Government announced that reverse migration whereby people moved from the rest of the UK to Scotland, had boosted the population by 137,000 in the past two decades. And with more and more people working from home, and a renewed sense of family and community all driven by the recent pandemic, it’s of no surprise that we’re starting to see more and more people moving from England up past the border into the beautiful country that we call home.

But for those moving from England or Wales, buying a property, which is often one of most stressful things that an individual or couple goes through, is just that bit more confusing if you are not familiar with the Scottish system. We all know, whether it’s your first home or your tenth, lots of emotions will be tied up with a property before it’s even in your hands. Buying a property isn’t just a matter of numbers. Our hearts are intrinsically involved too. Which is why it’s so important to have someone on your side who understands the process, ready to communicate and keep you informed from start to finish.

If only it were as simple as ABC. A: you find your dream house. B: you agree to buy it. C: the current owners hand over the keys.

In England the estate agent usually does the to-and-fro job of agreeing the details of a sale. Liaising with both parties as the buyer arranges a survey, finally agreeing an offer “Subject to contract”. At which point both parties sit waiting, fingers crossed as both sets of solicitors start the conveyancing process, sometimes taking months before contracts are officially signed and the transfer of keys can happen.

In Scotland, we do things a bit different. The conveyancing lawyers are the first up, agreeing, via a series of letters, the terms and conditions of the sale, which make the transaction legally binding from an early stage. The written exchange of terms and conditions is what are known as the missives. They are therefore required before the conveyancing can take place.

The missives can take their time though, so while you might give a sigh of relief at the early assurances, it’s only when all terms and conditions have been exchanged and agreed upon, the solicitors will conclude the missives, and there is a legally binding contract in place. The next step is the conveyancing process, where the ownership of the property actually passes over from seller to buyer.

We’re not here to say which system is better. Just here to make your life that bit easier. And if we can secure you that dream house in the process, then we’re all happy.

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