Conveyancing FAQs

Covesea Lighthouse, West Beach, Lossiemouth, at Sunrise

Every day, we get questions about house purchases and sales.

This article is an attempt to answer the conveyancing FAQs which come up most regularly.

If you have a question which you don’t see answered below – or anywhere else on this website – please ask us.

Q1: I’ve never done this before: what you need from me to get everything started?

We need instructions from you before we can submit an Offer (or if you are selling the property, and we have not acted for you with regard to the Estate Agency, we will require your instructions prior to us issuing our written acceptance of an Offer).

These can be verbal instructions or written instructions (by way of an email). As required by the Law Society of Scotland, we must send you our Letter of Engagement with our Terms of Business which will require to be signed and returned by you (though we do not need this signed prior to our submitting an Offer). We also need to see ID documents for you, if we have not acted for you within the past two years.

Q2: How long does the whole process take?

There are a number of factors which have to be taken into consideration but, on average, the time span between issuing an Offer and your getting the keys (or receiving an Offer and your handing over the keys) is between 6 and 8 weeks.

If you are obtaining a mortgage to help fund your purchase, it can be prudent to insert a date of entry into the offer 8 weeks away as it may be possible to bring this date forward if both parties agree. If you do not require a mortgage, and if the seller is agreeable to an early date of entry, it may be possible to complete the conveyancing process within a 4-week timescale.

Q3: Will I need to make an appointment with you at your office?

No, this is not entirely necessary. We are delighted to meet with you, should want to come in prior to submitting an Offer. However, if you are unable to do so, we can take instructions by telephone, email or letter. Similarly, it is not necessary for you to come into the office as the conveyancing progresses as documents requiring to be signed by you can be sent out to you for signature and return.

Q4: What does a Local Authority Search cover and how much does it cost?

A Property Enquiry Certificate (or Local Authority Search) will confirm various details which are not covered within the title deeds or the Home Report.

We instruct a Property Enquiry Certificate once the contract has been concluded and we obtain these from Moray Property Searchers at a cost of £115.

The Property Enquiry Certificate will:

  • confirm whether the roads and footpaths adjacent to the property are maintained by the Local Authority,
  • confirm whether the property is connected to mains water and mains drainage,
  • narrate any alterations or extensions which have been carried out on the property, for which Local Authority consents have been issued, and
  • state whether the property is affected by various other matters (such as: forming part of a Conservation Area, whether it is a listed building or whether it is affected by a Tree Preservation Order)

Q5: At what point will I have to pay you some money?

We do not require any money from you until about one or two days before the date of entry.

We will request your loan funds (if applicable) for the working day before settlement and we ask that you arrange a bank transfer for the balance required from you by this date also. This will avoid any unnecessary delays on the morning of settlement and should ensure that you are able to collect your keys earlier rather than later.

Q6: Will I have to pay a deposit and if so, how do I pay it and when will it be required?

No, deposits are only required in Scotland if you are purchasing a new-build property. It is very rare that the seller of a property in Scotland will ask a purchaser to pay a deposit and even rarer that a purchaser offers to pay a deposit.

Q7: Who tells my new Building Society/ Bank when the new mortgage funds will be required?

Once we receive your Mortgage Offer (or Loan Instructions as they are more commonly called) we will receive the Certificate of Title as part of that.

Once the contract has been concluded and a settlement date has been fixed, we fax our Certificate of Title to your lender around one week before settlement – asking that your loan funds be transferred to us on the working day immediately before settlement.

Q8: How soon will I receive any money due to me?

If we have asked the purchaser’s solicitors to telegraphically transfer the purchase price to us, we should be in a position to transfer the free proceeds of sale to you on the same day we receive the money.

Note that this is not always possible. Scottish solicitors still use cheques. If we have received the purchase price by way of a cheque, the balance owed to you will be transferred to you 5 working days after settlement. It is important to understand that cheques received from solicitors will not bounce and you should not be concerned that you have handed over your keys but not yet received your money.

Q9: I don’t understand your conveyancing jargon – what can I do?

We are happy to explain anything to you which you do not understand. As all Offers submitted and received refer to the Scottish Standard Clauses, there can often be clauses and conditions contained within them which can be difficult to understand. Sometimes particular standard clauses are irrelevant to your situation. We will try and explain any jargon in simple to understand terms.

Q10: What does “exchange” and “completion” mean and how long does it take?

These are terms of English law and the Scottish terminology is different.

We would hope that your missives (the letters between solicitors which make up the binding contract of purchase / sale) will be concluded within a couple of weeks from the offer being submitted / received.

The process in Scotland can often see missives being concluded over a month before the date of entry (also known as “completion”). In some cases, complications may arise and missives are not concluded until a few days before the date of entry but both purchaser and seller will be aware of this throughout the conveyancing process.

Q11: By what time do I have to leave my property and what do I do with the keys?

Some clients are in a position to vacate their property before the date of entry. Others may be purchasing on the same day as they sell.

It is likely that you will leave your property no later than early afternoon on the date of entry. We are required to hand over at least one key to the purchasers on the date of entry. It is entirely up to you whether you hand in all keys to us so that we can release these to the purchasers or whether you wish to give us one key and leave the remainder inside your property. If you have not used our Estate Agency services, you may have to hand the keys in to your Estate Agents for collection by the purchasers.

Q12: When do I get the keys for my new property?

The keys will usually be available from the Estate Agents (i.e. from us, if you have used us for the Estate Agency) and you can receive these once settlement has taken place. Settlement involves us delivering the purchase price to the sellers’ solicitors and, in turn, them delivering the signed title deed and pertinent documents to us.

Q13: Where can I find out more about buying and selling my house?

Please do not hesitate to contact us by calling on 01343 544077 or by sending us a Free Online Enquiry. Alternatively, see other articles on our Blog on this website.

We are here to help

Our offices are closed but we are still open and here to help.

In accordance with Government guidelines, and to ensure the health and well-being of our
Staff and the wider community, our offices in Elgin and Forres are now closed to the public
until further notice.

However, we are still here to help you. We have a very small, core team remaining at each
office and the bulk of our legal and property teams are working remotely and are available to
assist you by way of telephone, video call or email.

Our main office number (01343 544077) is manned from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Thursday
and 9am – 4pm on Fridays. Please call and you will be passed to the member of our team
dealing with your business. If you are a new client requiring assistance, then you will be
passed to someone who will be able to help.

Those members of our team who are working remotely remain contactable on their direct
dial numbers and email. If the person who was dealing with your business is not currently
working then your call or email is being diverted to the person progressing matters for you.

This is a difficult time for everyone. We want to do all that we can to help you continue with
any ongoing business, or simply help and advise you if you have concerns. These are
extraordinary times and we totally understand that you may have legal questions or
concerns. Please feel free to call for a chat and we will do all we can to assist.

If we all take good care of ourselves, our families, our friends and our neighbours, we are
sure that together we will come through this difficult time.