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Glasgow Conveyancing; Guide to Buying and Selling Property , The Glasgow Law Practice

Glasgow Conveyancing Solicitor Robert Fitzpatrick outlines the process involved in house sale and purchase and property transactions. Robert has extensive experience of the property market in Glasgow and surrounding areas.

Buying or selling a property is one of the single most important transactions an individual can undertake and for many it can be a very stressful experience. For this reason it is important to ensure you have excellent advice so you can secure the best deal. At The Glasgow Law Practice we have a highly professional conveyancing and estate agency team with extensive experience. We can give you advice across the whole spectrum of property related interests – from the marketing of your property, ensuring maximum exposure, to instructing a survey and making an offer for a new home.
From 1 December 2008 houses for sale in Scotland have had to be marketed with a Home Report. This is a pack of three documents: a Single Survey, an Energy Report and a Property Questionnaire.
The Home Report will be made available on request to prospective buyers of the home. The Single Survey contains an assessment by a surveyor of the condition of the home, a valuation and an accessibility audit for people with particular needs.
The Energy Report contains an assessment by a surveyor of the energy efficiency of the home and its environmental impact. It also recommends ways to improve its energy efficiency.
The Property Questionnaire is completed by the seller of the home. It contains additional information about the home, such as Council Tax banding and factoring costs that will be useful to buyers.
The Home Report can be useful for your property advisor to assist in negotiating the best deal on your behalf.  It should be noted that the Home Report may not be acceptable to your lender and you may have to have an independent survey carried out. If this is the case we can instruct this for you.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

When calculating the cost of buying a property Stamp Duty Land Tax must not be forgotten. Every purchaser is now required to sign a Land Transaction Return.  Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is charged on land and property transactions in the UK. The tax is charged at different rates, has different thresholds for different types of property and different values of transaction.  The sliding scale for residential property is illustrated in the table below. If the purchase price is less than £125,000, you do not pay any SDLT at all.

Purchase price     Rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax
Up to £125,000       0%
Over £125,000 to £250,000      1%
Over £250,000 to £500,000      3%
Over £500,000        4%
Over £1m         5%
A slight complication to the above is the continuation of the “disadvantaged areas” scheme which gives an exemption from stamp duty to certain post code areas up to £150,000.  Also first time buyers currently have an exemption up to £250,000.  For this to apply every purchaser, if there is more than one, must be a genuine first time buyer.  If in doubt your GLP property professional will be happy to advise.

The chargeable consideration for Stamp Duty Land Tax is the purchase price excluding the value of any extras or ‘moveables’ such as carpets or furniture, which are not counted as fixtures and fittings. Such items must be valued at a rate reflecting their fair market worth then subtracted from the purchase price.

As such when a purchaser offers to buy a property for a price that includes an amount which can properly be attributed to moveable items, then that sum will not be charged to SDLT. In such a case, in the offer to purchase, part of the price will be apportioned to “heritage” and part to moveable items. By apportioning the price it may be possible to bring the chargeable consideration to just below the various stamp duty thresholds potentially resulting in significant savings. HM Revenue & Customs do not provide an exhaustive list of items deemed to constitute moveables, however, the following items are likely to fall within that category:-
 
• Carpets (fitted or otherwise)
• Curtains and blinds
• Free standing furniture
• Kitchen white goods
• Light shades and fittings.

The following items will not normally be regarded as moveables:-

• Fitted kitchen units, cupboards and sinks
• Fitted ovens, hobs and extractor hoods
• Fitted bathroom sanitary ware
• Central heating systems
• Burglar alarm systems

Any apportionment of the purchase price must be “just and reasonable”. HMRC have the right to make enquiries into the accuracy of any Land Transaction Return. Each case will be considered on its own merits and so any apportionment must be capable of being justified.

Missives

Speed and efficiency of property transactions are always predominant concerns.
It is not the case that once an offer for a property in Scotland has been verbally accepted by the seller or his agents, that this binds the seller and purchaser into a contract.
Once the offer is submitted by the purchaser who is then advised that his offer is acceptable to the seller in principle, the selling agent will then be required to discuss each condition of the purchaser’s offer with his client.

Once this has been done the seller’s solicitor will issue a ‘qualified acceptance’, together with a package of papers relating to the property, such as the property titles, planning papers, specialist reports and property enquiry reports. Your solicitor will then have a number of working days to check through these and raise further queries as appropriate. At this stage, there is no legally binding contract in place between the seller and the purchaser, as various qualifications – usually depending on how many conditions are attached to the original offer – will be required to be accepted by the purchaser before either party is bound into a contract.

As such various ‘missive letters’ are exchanged between the seller’s and purchaser’s agents on behalf of their respective clients until agreement is reached by both parties on all the conditions and qualifications which have been made. At that point, one party’s solicitors will issue a letter on behalf of his client confirming that the missives are held to be concluded. It is at this stage that the transaction is binding on both parties. Neither party can thereafter withdraw from the transaction unless the missives are conditional upon a particular matter occurring which does not, ultimately, happen.  We always ask parties to note at this stage that a binding contract for the purchase or sale of a property takes place in Scotland without the parties themselves signing any documentation as the contract (usually termed “the missives”) is the formal letters which are passed between the solicitors for the seller and the purchaser.
This process can take some time to complete. However, the Glasgow and Edinburgh area now have combined standard missives which can effectively speed up procedures.

When purchasing a new property in the course of construction, the missives are dealt with in a slightly different way. Theses are normally constituted by form of an offer provided by the builder which is then signed by the purchaser himself and, thereafter, signed by the builder’s solicitor. However, in most cases involving the purchase of a new-build, if possible the purchaser’s solicitor will try and qualify the terms of the builder’s offer so that the contract is framed slightly more favourably to the purchaser.

Property in Scotland can also be purchased at auction (or “Roup”). The contract for purchasing at auction comprises the successful bidder accepting the “Articles of Roup” which are written conditions of sale prepared prior to the auction date by the seller’s solicitor. As such all contracts are prepared before auction and missives are concluded at the fall of the hammer.

For more information about any aspects of residential home sale or purchase please fill in our online enquiry form or call us on 0845 2701858.