What are property missives in Scotland?

Having an offer accepted on a property in Scotland is an extremely exciting step, as is accepting an offer if you are selling. Either way, once your offer has been accepted, or you accept, discussions will very quickly turn to ‘missives’. We explain a little more about missives, explaining exactly what they are and what very important part they play in the property buying & selling process in Scotland.

Detached house amongst the open landscape

What does ‘Missives’ mean?

‘Missives’ means the collective letters and communication that occurs between two solicitors resulting in a legal binding contract. The two solicitors will be the buying solicitor and the selling solicitor.

The first letter/document is always the offer and then it moves forward from there. The other solicitor will then respond with a document formally accepting the offer (the qualified acceptance). Other documents requesting revisions or amendments go back and forth until such time both parties are satisfied.

The communication is crucial for the progress of the evolving sale and purchase agreement between both parties. This stage is known as ‘negotiating missives’.

Concluded missives in Scotland

Once the negotiating of missives is completed and both solicitors are fully satisfied, missives will be concluded. Once concluded you are now in a legally binding contract.

Despite peoples interpretations, its not until missives are concluded that contracts are legally in place. Before this point both the seller and the buyer are able to walk away without any liabilities.

Concluded missives are the goal and the moment both the seller and buyer can breathe a sigh of relief!

How long does it take for concluded missives?

This missives process often happens over a period of a few weeks, but there is no set period of time.

In my professional career I have seen missives conclude in less than 24 hours! It is important to say this is extremely rare and only ever happens on a straight forward transaction and under very unique circumstances.

The Law Society of Scotland requires solicitors to always have missives in place in a timely and realistic time frame and to highlight any issue or delay as quickly as possible. On average I would say anywhere between 4-1o weeks, all depending on the wider structure of the sale & purchase.

Interestingly, you as the buyer or seller will never sign the missives. Your solicitor will have communicated and advised you fully throughout the missives negotiation and taken your instructions on matters.

Your solicitor will sign the missives on your behalf.

There is no set period of time that missives take to conclude

Common delays for missives in Scotland

In my experience there are two common delays for missives being concluded.

  1. Commonly buyers will require a mortgage to purchase the property. Once the buyer has their offer accepted on a property then they start the mortgage application process. The buyers solicitor will wait until their client has received the formal offer of loan for the mortgage before committing their clients to the purchase of the property
  2. If the buyer is waiting for missives to conclude on the sale of their own property. The buyers solicitor will not commit their client to the purchase a property if the contract for their own sale has not been concluded.

Under offer to Sold

Once missives have concluded the date of entry will be agreed.

The properties status will change from ‘Under Offer’ to ‘Sold’ once missives have concluded.

Signing of the contract is done by your solicitor

To learn more about What Under Offer means for a property in Scotland click here or maybe you are trying to understand what tax you will have to pay when buying a property in Scotland.

Understanding what a home report is click here