When buying a home in Scotland you will find that the process is slightly different than in the rest of the UK. There are even some regional variances. In Glasgow it is common practice to book a viewing time with the estate agency, however, in Edinburgh there tends to be Sunday afternoon and Thursday evening open viewings.
The legal system is different in Scotland and popular properties are often sold on a closing date. By the closing date and time, all interested parties must submit their bid for the property. Usually, the seller will sell to the highest bidder.
Here are 6 great pieces of advice to consider when buying a house or flat in Scotland.
1. Don’t be fooled by the asking price
Many purchasers are confused by the terms “Offers Over”, “Offers Around” or “Offers in the Region Of” and are left wondering what they should be offering. Generally, these terms can be ignored if the property has come onto the market recently and has a Home Report with a valuation. The terms are used as marketing ploys to generate interest in a property and the more relevant figure for a purchaser is the Home Report valuation. This is usually a better indication of what the seller is hoping to achieve. Depending on the level of interest in a property a lucky purchaser may be able to negotiate a price below this but if the property is new to the market and/or if the market is buoyant then often purchasers are pushed to offer over the valuation.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask
When you view a property it will be either the owner of the property or a viewing agent who will show you around. Sometimes sellers can be very open and chatty and only too happy to tell you about the property, but others prefer to keep quiet and may even let a purchaser wander around freely. Whilst this gives a good opportunity to spend time looking at the property rather than feeling like you are being ‘watched’, you can often leave with many questions unanswered. Viewing agents may not be able to offer much information if they simply do not know enough about the property, but a good viewing agent will have anticipated the normal queries of a purchaser and will have obtained this information from the selling agents. The best advice is to ask as many questions as you can. Often one question is enough to break the ice and you can glean far more information than you asked for – it all helps to make an informed decision, positive or negative!
3. Don’t be afraid to talk
Following on from point 2 above, if you are viewing a property and are being shown around by the owner, it can be worthwhile to make an effort to explain your situation to the seller. It is amazing how often a seller can be influenced by your circumstances if they are trying to make a decision later. Usually, money makes the most difference to any offer, but sometimes a seller receives more than one offer that is similar in price and terms. If the seller knows more about you it may help him or her to decide in your favour. The opposite may also be true of course, but usually, you have more to gain than lose in these situations.
4. Surveyors are human too
When considering a Home Report it is important to bear in mind that surveyors are human beings, who have opinions, prejudices and the occasional bad day! Sometimes a ‘2’ for one surveyor may be a ‘1’ for another (or a ‘3’ for someone else!). Given the lack of detail that is a feature of most Home Reports don’t be afraid to take advice from your solicitor who may be able to “read between the lines”. It is often where a Home Report is silent that you have to consider making further enquiries and your solicitor will be able to guide you on what areas these might be.
5. Look twice
If you are seriously interested in a property, make sure that you visit the property twice before offering, preferably once at night and once during the day. It is surprising how different a property and its surrounding environment can be when you return for a second time! The first visit can provide the ‘wow’ factor and often you leave feeling good about the property, retaining the good memories. A second visit can be useful to reacquaint yourself with the layout of the property, and to give you a chance to check the areas you perhaps didn’t pay much attention to first time round, like the windows, storage or parking. It is worth bearing in mind that, once you have successfully offered for a property, you will generally not be given access again until the contract is concluded and you are legally tied into going ahead with the purchase.
6. Don’t ignore your instincts and do your homework
If you are trying to buy a new home you will know if it is right for you. If you have any nagging doubts or any uneasy feelings about any aspect of a property, don’t ignore them, no matter how attractive the price may be or how positive some aspects of the property may be. When you are looking for a new home it is not always easy to be dispassionate and objective about the property, but you do have to take all aspects into consideration including how long the property has been on the market, any repairs required to the property and any potential issues with the surrounding location, eg any possible redevelopment sites which may or may not be readily identifiable, and the closeness of any commercial properties, railway or tram lines, or watercourses with the potential for flooding! If you take the time to look into these matters it will help you to make an informed decision.
ELP Arbuthnott McClanachan is a firm of solicitors and estate agents in Edinburgh. Their specialist property solicitors can help you buy residential property in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas. You can check their website for fantastic houses for sale in Edinburgh.
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