Buying a Property in Scotland – What Happens Around the Date of Entry?

You have made an Offer on a property and it has been accepted – congratulations! However, there is still quite a long way to go until you can pick up the keys to your new home or investment! Here is some guidance about what happens before, on and after your Date of Entry (often known as the ‘Settlement Date’).

The Missives

In Scotland, the contract for your purchase is concluded by the buyer and seller’s solicitors exchanging letters, known as ‘missives’. Missives are signed on your behalf by your solicitor, the only exception being new build purchases when you may be required to sign the missives. The ‘conclusion of missives’ means that there is a binding contract in place. Until missives are concluded, either party is at liberty to pull out even though the parties have verbally agreed the details of the sale and purchase.

Conclusion of missives may take some time as there are a few things that can hold up the process. There may be issues the buyer and seller are disagreeing about, there may be a delay in the buyer’s lender sending through paperwork about their mortgage (mortgage offers often take 6-8 weeks to be issued) and issues can come out of the woodwork such as alterations to the property or boundary disputes.

Missives can settle right up to the Date of Entry although this is not ideal. Paperwork can be painfully slow but is a necessary part of the process, so ensure that you maintain clear lines of communication with your solicitor. In the current seller’s market, properties can sell quickly and you may find yourself with less time than you would have otherwise hoped to get the paperwork together.


Even though missives are concluded, you can’t pick up keys until the Date of Entry (DOE). This is the day on which you agreed to pay the purchase price and for the seller to hand over ownership of their house to you.

Here are some key aspects of settlement that you need to consider. Knowing what to expect can help make things less stressful!

  • Make sure that you are able to transfer the funds for the purchase to your solicitor’s bank account prior to the Date of Entry. If you’ve got money (for example a deposit) tied-up in a bank account that has a 30 day notice period, you’ll need to take action to release the funds in good time. Aim to have funds in your solicitor’s account two working days prior to settlement, at the latest. Your solicitor will need to check the source of funds for money laundering purposes and, if there is a ‘gifted deposit’, the lender may need to be informed. These processes can be time-consuming and remember that keys are only exchanged for money, so no money means no keys!
  • If you are in a ‘chain’, the sale of your property will need to be settled first if you are then using the sale proceeds to purchase your new property.
  • A bank transfer is not immediate and will take time to show in your solicitor’s account. There is also likely to be a charge for the bank transfer. Cheques are still widely used for settling conveyancing transactions. Although this might seem antiquated, it is particularly useful in ‘chain’ situations (for reasons too long to go into here!). However, please note that your own cheque will need to clear (allow four working days) before your solicitor can issue a settlement cheque.
  • Banking cut-off times can delay some actions until the next working day and impact on your settlement date.
  • Let your solicitor know if you intend ‘porting’ your mortgage (i.e. moving your existing mortgage over to your new home) as they will need to check details of this prior to the Date of Entry.
  • If your mortgage payment is due to be taken near the Date of Entry, you should allow payment to be taken – this will be apportioned and refunded. If the mortgage payment isn’t due for a week or more, you may be able to cancel your direct debit – check with your solicitor/lender.


Once the missives are concluded and the Date of Entry is agreed, your solicitor will ask you to send the required purchase funds to their client-specific bank account and will also request any mortgage funds from the mortgage lender where appropriate.

On the Date of Entry, your solicitor will pay the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor. The seller in turn provides your solicitor with essential paperwork that facilitates the transfer of ownership of the property to you. All being well, the transaction is treated as ‘settled’ and the keys can be handed over. A transaction can settle anywhere between 9am and 5pm on the day of settlement. The aim is for the property to be clear by midday, but the time of settlement cannot be guaranteed in advance.

The Move

Whilst not an exhaustive list, here’s a few tips regarding the move.

  • Arrange a removal van if necessary and aim to be packed up by midday on the Date of Entry.
  • As the property transaction can take place anytime between 9am and 5pm, it’s best to check with the removal company in advance regarding any additional charges, for example if the handover of keys is delayed. You may want to consider taking out removal insurance.
  • Get in touch with any tradesmen that you think will be necessary in advance of you moving in to your new home, although note that Date of Entry is not confirmed until missives have concluded.
  • Arrange for your mail to be redirected and notify family, friends, service providers and other relevant organisations that you are moving.
  • Advise your local authority of your change of address in connection with your council tax.  
  • Arrange for the connection of services such as telephone or broadband if required.
  • Take final electricity and gas meter readings (and initial ones in your new home) and notify the providers.
  • Arrange insurance for your new property. Buildings insurance is likely to be a requirement of your mortgage, but you need to make sure that your contents are also insured.

These are just some of the practicalities of settlement and moving home. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Conveyancing Team by calling 0131 297 7999 or by emailing [email protected] and we’ll happily talk you through the process of buying and selling.

For more information about MOV8 Real Estate’s conveyancing services and how we can help you with your home purchase or sale, go to


20 responses to “Buying a Property in Scotland – What Happens Around the Date of Entry?”

  1. Tom Phillips avatar
    Tom Phillips

    Is it possible to move in earlier that entry date that was set? The house I’m moving too is already empty? and I’m keen to just move the missives are already completed and finances in order.

    1. Robert Carroll avatar

      That’s an interesting question! If both parties are agreeable to you moving-in earlier, there is no reason why the missives can’t be amended so that the Date of Entry is sooner. You would have to speak with your solicitor in the first instance and they would be able to reach out to the seller’s solicitor to see whether they are happy to change the currently-agreed arrangements.

  2. Teri McCormick avatar
    Teri McCormick

    Daughter due to move into house today. Recrieved email on Friday telling her seller in hospital for last 4weeks and is incapacitated so his wife said cannot proceed with sale. Her house is sold. Her baby due in December. Is there any recourse? Obviously distraught.

    1. Robert Carroll avatar

      Thank you for your comment Teri. I’m afraid that, unless you have concluded missives on the purchase, you have very little recourse. If missives are concluded, the contract gives you a right to damages. As your daughter will have instructed a solicitor, the best first port of call will be to speak to that solicitor and determine whether or not missives were concluded and, if so, what contractual remedies you would have in practice.

  3. Stacey Johnstone avatar
    Stacey Johnstone

    Hi, we are waiting on my buyers mortgage paperwork to come through. One of the sellers up the chain has requested an entry day, can we provisionally accept entry dates before my buyers paperwork is through to do we have to wait until that it’s through before we can even discuss this.

    1. Robert Carroll avatar

      Thank you for your comment. If you are already this far into the process then most likely you are being represented by a solicitor and it wouldn’t be fair of us to provide any advice that might contradict what you have already been provided. However, in principle there is nothing stopping you provisionally accepting anything on the basis that it might change in future as long as you don’t conclude missives that contain that Date of Entry. If you do, you really are tied to it!

  4. TL avatar

    Hi there, How long after your buyer has moved in can they make a claim/discuss things about the property? As we are finding our buyer is contacting us personally a lot for costs of things such as new sets of keys and such that we feel are not our responsibility although we are happy to answer, we wondered how long we are legally responsible?

    1. Robert Carroll avatar

      Thank you for your comment. The missives that you agree with your buyer (the contract of sale) usually contain provisions relating to how long the buyer has to raise any issues regarding defects as well as how many sets of keys you will provide. Whilst most missives are based on a set of Scotland-wide “Standard Clauses”, it is possible that the “Standard Clauses” are amended during negotiations and prior to concluding the missives/contract. You would therefore have to reach out to the solicitor who handled your sale conveyancing to check what exactly was agreed in your contract of sale.

  5. Mags Stewart avatar

    Once the offer has been agreed and date of entry set ,can I gain entry to property to allow trades to price work ? Can I also get into measure windows etc.

    1. Robert Carroll avatar

      Generally, the standard contract of purchase and sale of a property in Scotland will allow for this. However, it’s possible that it’s been removed during contract negotiations. In the first instance, you should check with your purchasing solicitor whether the contract allows for this. Of course, restrictions at the time of writing might mean that either party is not comfortable with allowing such access and, in the absence of any contractual provision, all parties ought to exercise great caution and heed the Scottish Government’s Home Moving guidelines.

  6. j.hutchison avatar

    My solicitor has set a move in date to our new home without consulting my partner or I. This date was put in place without all the paperwork required for our mortgage and generally there has been very little communication. My partner and I feel we haven been on the receiving end of someone who is incompetent and unprofessional and wonder where we stand legally in proceeding with a formal complaint.

    1. Graeme MacKay avatar

      Thank you for your question. In the first instance I would ask to speak to their manager and flag your concerns to them. If you are still unhappy with the response then I would then ask them to raise it as a formal complaint and ask for a formal response. At that stage, if you are still unhappy you can then raise it with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) on 0131 201 2130.

      I hope this information helps.


  7. G Brown avatar
    G Brown

    My friend is selling a flat and was asked to move firstly by December 17th 2021, a month’s notice, then after she had managed to meet that date it was postponed for about two weeks, then postponed again. Finally this Friday 28th January was agreed, but today the seller has postponed again until February 11th, although now her mortgage arrangements are in place.
    Could she not have been protected from so much stress and uncertainty, and she still cannot rely on completion?

    1. Abby Fraser-Davidson avatar
      Abby Fraser-Davidson

      Hi there. This sounds like a stressful situation. Hopefully your friend will be able to move in this Friday. The best thing for them to do is to speak with their solicitor. If they feel like they need more legal advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on [email protected]. Best wishes, MOV8

  8. John Crerar avatar
    John Crerar

    We are soon to be putting our home on the market. We already own the property we will move into. For a number of reasons we will not move until the autumn and intend showing that on our selling particulars. If we are able to make an early sale to a cash buyer, is there any reason why missives cannot be concluded early, with a later entry date stipulated and agreed ?
    Would this not protect both parties from last minute hiccups?

    1. Abby Fraser-Davidson avatar
      Abby Fraser-Davidson

      Hi John, thank you for your enquiry. If you are thinking of selling your property but do not wish to move out of the property until several months from now, there is a strong argument for suggesting that you place your property on the market for sale closer to the time when you wish to move out. Most people who are viewing properties for sale would typically expect to be able to complete a purchase of such a property within 8-12 weeks from the point at which they offered successfully for a property. You best bet would be to liaise with our estate agency and valuations department, who could advise on the best time to place your property on the market, to obtain the best price and to suit your own moving requirements. If you were to market the property early, you could generate interest and then find that the interested parties were put off by the fact that you did not wish to move out until late Autumn, if you were to market now, for instance. A long date of entry would, typically, only suit someone who had a property to sell and needed time to do that. That type of purchaser would not, typically, conclude a contract to purchase your property until they had a concluded contract in place for the sale of their current property. You can call us on 0345 646 0208 and one of the team will be more than happy to help, alternatively pop over an email to [email protected]. Many thanks, Team MOV8.

  9. Wendy avatar

    Hello there

    We had an offer accepted on a property back in November and we are still no closer to having missives signed or an entry date agreed. We have the mortgage in place and the funds ready to go. The seller had stated that she would need time to find a property but had agreed that we could have the house by April as that was when our baby was due to be born. Our current mortgage agreement end in July (this has already been extended) and the seller is now asking us to apply for a new mortgage agreement to give her further time to find a property. Obviously this will incur extra product costs and the interest rates will have gone up, making our overall mortgage more expensive. We have asked her to sign the missives now and we’ll accept a long entry date giving her to the end of august but would that mean we could use current mortgage or would we need to apply for a new one? It’s obviously a very stressful situation. What would you advise and do we have any recourse on this matter? Thank you for your time.

    1. Graeme MacKay avatar

      Hi Wendy,

      I Hope you are well.

      Thank you for your enquiry. It can be a frustrating position to be in, namely, to have found your ideal property and have agreed a price for it, but not having agreed a definite date of entry. As you have discovered, until a fixed date of entry can be agreed, nothing is definite and a binding contract cannot be put in place. The current situation is far from ideal for you and we note that you have been patiently waiting for this property for 6 months and seem to have done everything you can to ensure that you can progress and conclude the contract. Given the length of time which has passed since you agreed the price for the property, you have a few points to consider, carefully, before deciding on your next move: (a) If the seller has not found a suitable property after 6 months, how likely is it that they will find a property soon. Even if they find a property to purchase and offer for this in the near future, it is likely to be a minimum of 8-12 weeks from the date of any offer they agree for their purchase, before that transaction (and thus your transaction) could complete; (b) Depending on what you have been doing over the past 6 months and the terms of any verbal agreement you have reached with the seller, regarding how long you are prepared to wait, you may have missed out/be missing out on properties, on the market, which are as/more suitable for your needs; (c) To try and force the seller into making a decision, you could say that if they do not conclude a contract for a fixed date of entry, within the next ‘X’ number of weeks, that you will withdraw your offer and look at other properties. This sort of tactic can work, in terms of making the seller aware that you are not prepared to wait for them to find a suitable property, indefinitely; (d) You would need to speak to your mortgage adviser/lender if you needed to extend your current mortgage offer again. This can be tricky, as some lenders will not automatically extend a mortgage offer, particularly if it has been extended already. As you say, if you need to apply for a new mortgage this could be on different terms, given current cost of living issues and interest rate rises; (e) If you decide not to set a deadline, you would still need to find out what your mortgage position was going to be in the coming months and would need to be alert to the fact that, where no binding contract is in place, either party can walk away, without penalty. This could mean that there is nothing to stop the seller, due to a change of circumstances at their end, pulling out or demanding a higher price from you (if for instance they have to pay a higher price, than they expected, to purchase their next property, or they may simply change their minds about selling (given, for instance, they have not found anywhere suitable to move to in the last 6 months).

      Team MOV8

  10. Vira avatar

    Our buyer has their mortgage approved and our mortgage for our new house is also approved , the date of entry is in 7 days but the missive is not signed yet by the buyer so we are not able to sign our missive too. Does this usually happens that missives get delayed till the date of entry? What should I do to get papers in place?

    1. Cameron Smith avatar
      Cameron Smith

      Hello Vira

      Thank you for your enquiry. You mention that both you and your buyer have your respective mortgages approved. This may mean that neither you, nor your buyer, have actually received your mortgage offers. If your buyer has not yet received their mortgage offer, then they will not wish to enter into a binding contract with you. That is the approach almost all buyers take and have taken in recent years. The same applies to the approach you should take in relation to your own purchase, with the added caveat that you need to ensure that your sale contract is concluded too.

      If the issue does relate to you/your buyer not having a mortgage offer, then you need to chase your respective mortgage lenders/advisers. If the issue is not the lack of a mortgage offer then you need to ask your solicitor to find out what the precise reason is why the buyer cannot enter into a binding contract with you at this time. Reasons could include that they have a dependent sale, the contract for which is not concluded/they await receipt of documents for, say , alterations, from your solicitor etc.

      Given that mortgage offers can only be applied for when an offer for a property has been accepted and that it can take, typically, a minimum of 4 weeks for a mortgage offer to be obtained, it is not uncommon for missives to be concluded until close to the date of entry.

      Team MOV8

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