When it comes to selling your home, good preparation and an understanding of the legal process involved are key to helping your sale go smoothly.
The legal side of selling your home is complex and can sometimes be frustrating. Using an experienced solicitor who communicates clearly with you throughout the process is important, and knowing what to expect will make the process much less stressful.
Working with industry experts and experienced home buyers, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about conveyancing in this simple, practical guide.
In Scotland, unlike in England and Wales, both you and your buyer are committed to the sale at a much earlier stage in the process – from the moment you've accepted an offer in writing.
You'll need to put together key information about your home in the form of a Home Report before it can be advertised for sale. This includes information about the condition of the property, fixtures and fittings and an energy performance certificate (EPC). Your selling agent will be able to help you with this.
Once you've put your property up for sale, the key stages of conveyancing are:
Keep reading to find out more about what happens at each stage, and the costs involved.
Many solicitors in Scotland also act as estate agents, and will be able to carry out the marketing of your property as well as the legal work on your sale.
Whether or not you use a solicitor to sell your property, you'll still need one to help you review your offers and decide which to accept, so it's a good idea to appoint someone early.
Before choosing a solicitor, here are some key things to consider:
How much should I pay for a good solicitor?
When you’re selling a home, conveyancing typically costs between £400 and £1,500. However, fees can vary depending on a number of factors including the firm you choose, the type and price of property you’re selling and where it’s situated.
It’s important to remember that cheapest is not always best: more experienced practitioners with good reputations will often cost a bit more. Selling a home is likely to be one of the biggest financial transactions you ever make, so paying a little extra for a decent, reputable solicitor is generally money well spent.
You can find solicitors advertising conveyancing for as little as £350, but be wary as they will often carry hidden extra charges which mean you could end up paying more in the long run. Look for one who offers a fixed, upfront fee to avoid costs mounting unexpectedly throughout the process.
For extra security, choose a firm offering a ‘no-move, no-fee’ arrangement, which means you won’t pay your conveyancing fees if the sale falls through. It's important to be aware, though, that any searches that have been carried out or other disbursements may still have to be paid for.
Do I need to use a local solicitor?
There is a popular belief that choosing a local solicitor will make it quicker and easier to iron out problems and hand over documents, but it’s much more important to opt for someone who’s efficient, communicative, and has the capacity to deal with your purchase. If you use a solicitor based in a different area, documents can be posted or, sometimes, scanned and emailed.
Do I want a dedicated case handler?
Having a consistent point of contact throughout your purchase can be a godsend when it comes to conveyancing. You won’t have to spend time explaining things multiple times to different people, and if you do have a query, you’ll know exactly who to speak to.
If this is important to you, look for a firm that promises a dedicated case handler to deal with your case from start to finish.
Once you've had all of the offers in on your property, your solicitor will help you decide which one you should accept. The offers will each include a proposed price, as well as important terms such as the date of entry – the day you'll receive payment and hand over the keys – and any other terms and conditions relating to the sale.
It's important to make sure you're happy with the terms of the offer you choose, as you'll be legally bound to honour them once you've accepted the offer.
In Scotland, the contract for the sale is created by the exchange of ‘missives’ – letters between your solicitor and the buyer’s.
Missives contain all the important information about the sale such as the price, date of entry – when the buyer pays and gets the keys – and any conditions that apply to the sale.
A binding contract is created at the ‘conclusion of missives’, when all terms are agreed and contracts signed. In Scotland, unlike in England, you do not have to personally sign a contract as your solicitor signs it on your behalf. You will, however, have to sign the deed that transfers ownership to the buyer.
During this time, your solicitor and your buyer’s solicitor will carry out a number of important steps before formalising the sale. These include:
On the date of entry, your solicitor will speak with your buyer’s solicitor to formally complete the sale.
Once your solicitor has received funds from your buyer, they will transfer any money owed to your mortgage company, plus other outstanding funds owed to people such as your estate agent. They’ll then send any excess funds to you.
At this point you’ll need to give the house keys to your estate agent or solicitor, ready for your buyer to collect.
Below is a rough guide to the costs involved in conveyancing.
Please note that the fees below are a guide only and there may be additional charges depending on your situation. Your solicitor will be able to give you a more comprehensive breakdown of your charges.
Your solicitor will register an advance notice with Registers of Scotland prior to the date of entry which protects your buyer’s right to register the deed transferring ownership to them.
These are the fees you’ll pay your conveyancer or solicitor for carrying out the legal work involved in your property transaction. Charges vary, but remember, cheapest is not always best.
This is a fee paid to Registers of Scotland for registering the sale of your property in the Land Register.
Your solicitor will carry out records searches on your property and surrounding areas to find out whether there are any issues that the buyer needs to be aware of, and will run checks on you for the buyer’s benefit. Most checks carry a standard fee set by the relevant authority.
Conveyancing is the legal process you have to go through if you’re buying, selling, remortgaging or extending a lease.
Typically, a sale or purchase in England or Wales will take around 8-12 weeks from the moment an offer is accepted to the point of completion.
However, the conveyancing process varies from case to case and it can take longer depending on the complexity of the transaction, the number of people in the chain (if applicable), and how quickly you can respond to queries from your conveyancer.
Typically, a sale and/or purchase in Scotland will take around 4-8 weeks from the moment an offer is accepted to the point of completion.
However, the conveyancing process varies from case to case and it can take longer depending on the complexity of the transaction, the number of people in the chain (if applicable), and how quickly you can respond to queries from your solicitor.
Get a free conveyancing quote from our preferred partner. Select your situation below to get started.
A conveyancer is a legal professional who specialises in property law and can carry out the legal side of buying or selling a property, remortgaging or extending a lease.
In Scotland, missives are the formal letters exchanged between the conveyancers representing the buyer and the seller dealing with contract details and conditions of sale.
An advance notice gives notice of a property sale or purchase to the Registers of Scotland. It contains information about both the existing and new owners, the property and the intended deed.
The Registers of Scotland is the government body responsible for compiling and keeping records relating to land and property in Scotland.
Lands and buildings transaction tax – or LBTT – is a tiered Scottish government tax paid on the purchase of properties in Scotland costing over £145,000. Use our cost calculator to find out exactly how much LBTT you'll have to pay. Please note that a higher rate of tax applies for second homes and buy-to-let properties costing over £40,000.