Moving from England to Scotland – The house buying process

In my profession I have seen a huge rise in the amount of people Moving from England to Scotland in the last two years. But did you know there are big differences in the property buying process?

If you have a plan for moving from England to Scotland in the next few months or even years, then its really important to understand the differences in the property buying process. You may be surprised how different the processes are!

Thinking of moving from England to Scotland - We help explain the big differences in the house buying processes.

Home Reports in Scotland

When you put your property up for sale in Scotland most properties need to have a home report . A home report is a survey report outlining the condition and value of the specific property. The home report is organised and paid for by the seller.

The home report in Scotland is made available to prospective buyers to provide additional information about the property. A purchaser, and a purchasers solicitor, will fully read the document to decide whether the property is right for them. 

This home report will often be used by the mortgage lender to assist with the mortgage for the buyer. So remember this if your moving from England to Scotland and don’t organise your own survey.

Home reports do not exist in England and surveys are the responsibility of the purchaser after they have had their offer accepted. The offer will always be subject to the survey and the purchasers solicitor or mortgage lender will often organise the required survey.

Freehold v Leasehold

Another difference in the buying process between England & Scotland is freehold & leasehold.

Everything is freehold in Scotland. This means you own the property, and the land the property sits on in full. It is all yours – until you decide to sell of course. 

In England it’s essential to seek clarity as to whether a property is Freehold or Leasehold. Leasehold is you owning the property but not the land it sits on. Meaning you have additional ground rent payment too.

Closing Dates

In Scotland a property may be very popular and achieve lots of interest from buyers. In this scenario estate agents will often set a closing date. A day and time is fixed for buyers to submit their formal offer, in Scottish legal terms, to be considered by the seller. Closing dates are a fair way to ensure everyone has a chance to offer, but more often than not, it will help the seller achieve a higher price.

In England they do not have closing dates. They have a more ‘first come first serve’ process. An interested buyer will go straight in with an offer, and the buyer may accept, despite other people being interested in the property. It’s likely the estate agent will speak with the other interested buyers though and suggest they get their offer in quick.

Buyers moving from England to Scotland really do not like the closing date process!

Thinking of moving from England to Scotland - We help explain the big differences in the house buying processes.

Moving to Offers Over

When Moving from England to Scotland you have to get your head around the asking price system.

Most properties in Scotland are advertised at ‘offers over’ a certain amount. The amount is often their home report value or slightly below. This generally means that the seller is hoping to secure a sale price above the asking price.

Asking prices are marketing tools to entice prospective buyers so just look at it as a guide.

If a property is new to the market in Scotland and has lots of interest it’s likely the property will achieve over the asking price. If the property has been on the market for 1 year with no interest, then it’s likely it will achieve under its asking price.

England do things very differently with their asking prices. They often place a ‘guide price’ or ‘asking price’ on the property and buyers will ‘often ‘offer the asking price or even under and it will be considered.

This is another huge difference when moving from England to Scotland.

No Gazumping in Scotland

In England, it appears to be a regular occurrence that, despite an offer being initially accepted, it can then still be rejected at a later date if a better offer comes in. This is called gazumping. This can only make for a very stressful selling and buying process for many.

In Scotland you are expected to do all your due diligence before you offer on a property. Once you have put in a written offer and its been accepted, the property will be marked ‘under offer’. Meaning no more viewings take place and there are very little opportunities for other offers to come in. There is nothing legally binding at this stage, but its all very much based on a good practice. So the seller puts all their eggs in one basket with this buyer and works towards completion. This is a great positive for buyers are moving from England to Scotland.

Although this is best practice in Scotland and the most common scenario, its important to note that a seller and buyer can both legally pull out of a purchase is Scotland up until the missives are concluded. But its very highly frowned upon and extremely uncommon.

Thinking of moving from England to Scotland - We help explain the big differences in the house buying processes.

Estate Agents v Solicitors

Property solicitors in Scotland have far more involvement in the selling and buying process than those in England.

Sellers & buyers in Scotland use their solicitor to seek local property advice, advice about what they should offer for a property and advice on the conveyancing process. They do not go to an estate agent for this advice. Estate agents will be reluctant to give buyers advice as they are acting for the seller. If you are moving from England to Scotland I would always recommend that you first engage with a local property solicitor.

When selling in Scotland too, its common they engage with their solicitors property department, to keep everything ‘in-house’. Although there is still very much the popular option of selling with an estate agent too.

Scottish Property Tax

In Scotland we have two taxes in relation to property buying.

LBTT (Land & Building Transaction Tax) is England’s equivalent to SDLT (Stamp Duty Land Tax). This tax is applied to purchases of land or property in Scotland. It replaced UK Stamp Duty in Scotland back in 2015. First-time buyers do not pay LBTT in purchases up to £175,000.

In Scotland we also have ADS (Additional Dwelling Supplement) at a whopping 6%, whereas England you will usually have to pay 3% on top of normal SDLT rates if buying an additional property.

Here is a great post specifically on Scotland property tax including LBTT & ADS

Revenue Scotland have a great LBTT & ADT calculator here. And in England gov.uk have a handy calculator SDLT here.

Thinking of moving from England to Scotland - We help explain the big differences in the house buying processes.

Just another difference when moving from England to Scotland! You may enjoy reading these useful articles too:

Moving to Scotland – 7 things you should know

How to get your house ready to sell in 30 days

Home reports in Scotland. Good or Bad?

Home Reports in Scotland FAQ