The Detailed Property Buying Guide: Submitting an Offer in Scotland

The property market can be overwhelming, filled with jargon and complicated processes guaranteed to befuddle first-time buyers and seasoned veterans alike. Our detailed Property Buying Guide aims to demystify the industry to give you the tools to confidently find and purchase your next dream home (and even save some money, too).

In the latest instalment of our buying guide, we’ll look at submitting an offer for a home in Scotland. We’ll cover key points like how to submit a formal offer, what to include to give you the best chance of getting accepted and at what stage you can safely withdraw from the sale without incurring financial penalty. So, let’s dive in.

How Do I Submit an Offer?

In Scotland, a formal offer on a property must be submitted by a solicitor in writing to be considered. A verbal agreement or informal offer is not binding and won’t be enough to kickstart the legal process of purchasing a home you’re interested in. Once you’ve instructed your solicitor to submit an offer on your behalf, they will draft up the proposal to send to the vendor’s solicitor. An offer typically includes:

  • The amount you’re offering to pay to purchase the property (if you’re unsure about how much to offer, speak to your solicitor – they will be able to advise you on how much similar properties in the area have recently sold for.)
  • The date you’d like to move into the property
  • Anything you’d like included in the sale (such as white goods, etc.)
  • The standard conditions of the sale (such as ensuring the seller is entitled to sell the property, etc.)
  • A time limit in which the seller must accept or decline the proposed offer

Closing Dates

If the seller receives a lot of interest in their property, they may decide to set a Closing Date, a date and time in which all offers must be submitted to be considered. Closing Dates are designed to maximise the amount the seller can get as interested parties compete in a blind bidding system, leading many buyers to offer more than they originally intended to secure the property – including over and above the Home Report Valuation.

However, don’t be discouraged if a property you have your eye on goes to a Closing Date, as although a seller will generally be tempted by the highest offer, a number of factors will influence their decision. For example, a cash buyer with a lower offer that doesn’t rely on a mortgage or the sale of an existing property can be more attractive than a buyer offering more money yet stuck in a chain. For this reason, it’s a good idea to include a letter of explanation alongside your offer, detailing your ability to proceed with the sale promptly and any other considerations you believe will put you ahead of the competition. 

Is An Offer Legally Binding?

When your solicitor submits an offer on your behalf, they will include several standard conditions that require the seller to provide information to proceed (such as proof of ownership). If the seller accepts your offer, their solicitor will issue a ‘qualified’ acceptance in response and may make amendments to your proposed offer (such as changing the entry date or what goods will be included in the sale). While this is happening, your solicitor may also be waiting for your mortgage provider to issue the loan to fund the purchase.

At this stage, no contract exists, meaning you’re not legally bound to buy the property and can pull out of the sale. Only once your solicitor is satisfied that all standard conditions have been met and both parties agree to the terms in the offer will you be ready to ‘Conclude the Missives’ and the contract comes into effect. 

What Happens If the Seller or Buyer Pulls Out of the Sale?

Once the contract is in place, neither the buyer nor the seller can withdraw from the sale without incurring significant financial penalties.

If you, as the buyer, pull out of the purchase, the seller will expect you to pay for the cost of re-marketing the property, the difference between your offer and the one they subsequently accept (if it’s lower), and any money the seller has used to fund the purchase of a property they committed to on the strength of their sale with you.

If the seller pulls out of the sale once the contract is in place, you can take them to court to force the deal through and receive compensation to cover your expenses and any inconvenience caused.

If in doubt, it’s best to speak to your solicitor, who can advise you on your rights each step of the way and help you avoid any legal mishaps.

Thinking of Selling Your Property?

If you’re thinking of selling your property, our team of experts is here to help you get the best possible price in the quickest possible time. With decades of experience under our belt, we’ve seen all possible market conditions over the years and are perfectly placed to help you navigate the current property landscape. Get in touch today!

Fill in our free online home valuation form here

Call us on 0345 646 0208 (Option 1)

or email [email protected] to organise a free valuation of your home or to get a full, transparent breakdown of the costs of selling your home.

Thinking of Buying?

Our specialist Purchasing Team helps thousands of buyers every year to get the best deal on their next dream home, while our friendly and expert lawyers will guide you step-by-step through the Scottish buying process until you have the keys in your hand.

Get a quote for buying online here

Call us on 0345 646 0208 (Option 2)

or email [email protected], and we’ll be delighted to help.


2 responses to “The Detailed Property Buying Guide: Submitting an Offer in Scotland”

  1. Laura Dickinson avatar
    Laura Dickinson

    Im intersted in learning the logistics of purchasing feom abroad. My husband is Scottish (British citizen) but we live currently in the USA. Im trying to gauge how much $ down paument we would need ( like 20%) and what issues we would face from abroad as purchasers.

    1. Cameron Smith avatar
      Cameron Smith

      Hi Laura, thank you for your question. You would need to have a UK bank account to enable you to purchase a property in Scotland.

      In terms of any down payment requirement, it is never usually necessary to pay a deposit, prior to the completion date, for the purchase of a property in Scotland. The exception to this is the purchase of a new build property, where a purchaser is usually asked to pay a reservation fee, at the time of reserving a new build property (usually in the region of a few hundred pounds) with a further sum, known as a deposit, to be paid at the point a concluded contract is entered into (which can be weeks/months before the completion date). The deposit amount in those instances is usually a sum ranging from £1,000-£5,000.

      Issues which you could encounter from abroad will depend on your purpose for purchasing the property. Issues could include: difficulties arranging viewings of properties which you may be interested in; assuming you already own and are not selling a US property, you would be liable to pay additional property tax (over and above the normal property tax) which is 6% of the price; you would need to make your own checks as to what your US tax liabilities would be, as a result of owning a property in Scotland and any income which you derive from the property.

      If you require any further information, please contact our Purchasing Team.

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