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Buying a home

Making an offer

When you make an offer, it should include:

  • how much your offer is

  • when you'd like to move in

  • any conditions of the sale, such as the outcome of a survey

Tell your solicitor how much you want to offer so they can submit it on your behalf. You can discuss it with them first if you’re not sure how much to offer. They’ll tell you what similar properties in the area have sold for.

If the seller wants to go to a closing date, it means they’ll consider all the offers they get before deciding. Your offer must be submitted by this date to be considered.

If your offer is accepted

Tell your mortgage advisor or mortgage lender as soon as the offer is accepted so you can apply for a mortgage or get your mortgage approved.

You might need to get buildings insurance for the move in date to get your mortgage approved.

Your solicitor will finalise the purchase by exchanging letters with the seller’s solicitor. These are sometimes called missives. To complete the purchase, you’ll need to sign a contract called the concluding missive.

Your solicitor will also check the title deeds.

Checking the title deeds

These are legal documents that show:

  • who legally owns the home

  • the boundaries of the home

  • any burdens or responsibilities the owner has

Burdens include things like:

  • what shared areas you're responsible for

  • whether you have to repair or maintain shared areas

  • what access rights you have, such as if you own any paths or roads leading to the property

  • if there’s restrictions on making alterations to the property

Your solicitor will check these and make sure there’s nothing in them that will cause you problems. If there are, your solicitor will tell you. If there are serious issues with the title deeds, you may be able to back out of the purchase.

Check where the title deeds are kept

If you have a mortgage, the lender will keep the title deeds until you pay it off. You can ask to see them at any time. Your solicitor can arrange this.

If you do not have a mortgage, the title deeds will usually be sent to your solicitor.

If you do not know where your title deeds are, ask the solicitor you used when buying the home. You can also pay a fee to order a copy of your title deeds from the Registers of Scotland.

If you want to withdraw your offer

Once the sale is finalised, you may face financial penalties if you withdraw your offer.

Speak to your solicitor. They’ll tell you about any penalties you might face and help you negotiate with the seller.

If the seller wants to withdraw after accepting your offer

You can:

  • take them to court to force the sale

  • settle for compensation to cover your expenses and inconvenience

Speak to your solicitor, who will help you decide what to do if the seller wants to withdraw.

Last updated: 19 January 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England