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Buying in Scotland
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Buying a property in Scotland

How buying a property north of the border differs from the rest of the UK

It used to be that moving house ranked third on the list of most stress-inducing situations in one's life (after death in the family and divorce). In recent years, though, the whole fretful business of buying and selling seems to have intensified; a survey on most stressful life events by insurance company Unum found that it drove 44% into a frenzy, compared to 15% who considered changing jobs as their most stressful experience.

Frequent have been the calls for changes to the England and Wales home buying system, so as to eradicate or minimise its drawbacks, brinkmanship and general gut-churning villainy. Frequent, too, have been the comments that the Scottish system is so much better, as well as being more respectful of blood pressure indices. But is it?

The bid system

The essence of the system north of the border is the bid; you bid an offer price for the property you're interested in. All bids are then opened on the given deadline and the best offer wins. Simple; no gazumping, no double-dealing, no price reductions for a quick sale, no cash offers that fail to materialise at the eleventh hour.

But house buying in Scotland has its own problems, the chief one (if you discount the nail-biting tension inherent in whether your bid will be successful) being the amount of unproductive money that can be involved. You pay the cost of surveys, searches and mortgage valuations before you know the bidding outcomes and there's no refund.

As elsewhere, properties in Scotland are sold under the principle of caveat emptor, so a survey/valuation report is essential. On the plus side, with the Scottish system comes a high level of confidence that once your offer is accepted, the sale will proceed.

Obviously, though, in a buoyant and competitive market, such a system can result in multiple surveys and valuations being carried out on the same property and consequent wasted costs for unsuccessful bidders. The tendency, then, is for many buyers to opt for the cheapest form of survey report and risk the chance of unexpected repairs and maintenance after the purchase.

Which survey to choose?

There are three main types of report, in ascending order of cost (which also varies according to location/value of the property). The Valuation Report, produced for the mortgager and paid for by the potential buyer (circa £150) identifies any major defects. Next up, the Homebuyers Report and Valuation commissioned by the purchaser, perhaps though their solicitor or IFA, provides more detailed information about condition and state of services. Finally, there's the comprehensive Building Survey, conducted by a chartered surveyor, architect or builder, which investigates all elements; this does not include a valuation and costs around £1,000.

In 2002 the Scottish Executive Central Research Unit published a report on the country's house buying and selling process, the findings of a survey amongst first time buyers, 'experienced' buyers and professionals e.g. solicitors involved. The general view: for the first timer it is a huge learning curve; 46% of the survey's house buying respondents (30% of first timers) said they did not receive any advice.

The survey also revealed that buyers viewed fewer than 10 properties before making a successful offer. Further, 76% were successful with their first offer and 67% had only one survey/valuation conducted (12% of all surveys were not followed up by an offer on the property). Two thirds of all surveys were of the basic Valuation Report type, at an average spend of £166. Although 64% said they were generally satisfied with the condition of their purchase, some 25% found unexpected repairs/work required in the first year.

There was an average time of 14 weeks from 'starting to look seriously' to making a successful offer, with the cost of house buying averaging £1,340.


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Schedule of Articles

property investing
property refurbishment
buying overseas property
moving house
home letting
buy to let
home improvements

top 10 celebrity areas
6 up & comming areas
5 signs that an area is up & comming
city types yearn for the country in town
your place in the sun
equity release
planning permissions & extensions
estate agents
rent or buy
buy to let
mortgage overpayment
mortgage endowments
mortgage protection
stamp duty
self build your home
electrical surveys
the cost of moving in
the perfect neighbourhood
council tax
house price league
good neighbours
stamp duty land tax
top 20 towns 2003
cut the cost of moving
interest rates
buying in scotland
dream homes
first time buyers
the worth of uk homes
bad estate agents
keeping up appearances
home improvements


Please note that articles on this site & any other 'planning-approval' related web site does not constitute professional advice. All articles are intended to provide a general view of many subjects. We suggest you to consult a solicitor before making any important decisions.  The author is not an expert in any given field.

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