Definition - noun - the legal process of transferring property from one owner to another.
Very simply, buyers 'offer' to buy a property. That means the buyer's solicitor makes an offer, including the price, entry date and other terms and conditions, to the seller or their agent.
Prior to instructing the solicitor to make the offer, the buyer needs from them:
- Details of his fees
- Details of other sums, known as outlays, such as Stamp Duty Land Tax, Land Register fees and local search/Property Enquiry Certificate fees which will find out if there are any roads, for example, to be constructed within the vicinity of your property or Statutory Notices served on the property or the tenement of which it forms part.
- You should also have begun the mortgage process, if necessary, which may include a building society instructing a surveyor to inspect the property.
The seller's solicitor then discusses the terms of the offer with the seller in detail and issues a written acceptance (normally with a number of qualifications). The buyer's solicitor likewise discusses these qualifications with the buyer and either accepts them all and issues a letter concluding the missives (contract) or issues further qualifications for consideration by the seller. This process goes on until one party is content with the last set of qualifications and issues the concluding letter. A contract in Scotland requires to be concluded in writing.
Once an offer or one of the counter offers has been fully accepted and the missives are said to be concluded a legally binding contract will normally be formed. If one party withdraws after this, other than as permitted by the missives, they will in all probability be liable to pay penalties to the other party.
Please note that the law in this regard in Scotland is very different from that in England. These formal contractual letter are signed by the solicitors on behalf of the buyer and seller and not by the parties themselves — therefore there is not a situation where the contract is encapsulated in the one document for signature by the parties as it the case in England.
Both parties' solicitors will then make contact. During this period your solicitor will check the person purporting to sell the property does indeed own the property (the title) and carry out the other checks.
Assuming that these checks are satisfactory, the payment will then be exchanged for the disposition (the document transferring the title to the property) and other settlement documents. The title will then be recorded in the appropriate register.