Conveyancing: Eva answers your FAQs

Eva Li, ace conveyancing partner at Gebbie & Wilson

Our ace residential conveyancing Partner, Eva Li

answers the 12 questions she is most often asked about conveyancing – starting with “What is it?”

  • What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership of property from one person or entity to another.  It involves various legal and administrative tasks to ensure the property transaction is valid and legally binding.

  • Do I need a solicitor for conveyancing?

Yes, conveyancing must be conducted by a solicitor.  They handle all legal aspects of the property transaction, including the drafting and review of Missives, conducting searches, and facilitating the transfer of funds.

  • What does the conveyancing process involve?
  • The conveyancing process typically includes the following steps:
  • Offer and acceptance: The purchaser makes an offer, which, if accepted by the seller, proceeds to a back and forth adjustment of Missives. 
  • Searches: The purchasing solicitor conducts various searches and investigations over the titles and reports provided by the selling solicitor to ensure there are no legal issues affecting the property.
  • Missives: The solicitors for both parties negotiate and finalise the terms of the contract in writing.  Once Missives are concluded, parties will be legally bound into the transaction.
  • Settlement: The final documents are signed, and the transfer of ownership takes place, usually facilitated by the solicitors.  The purchasing solicitors will register the title in favour of their clients and the selling solicitors will clear the title of any securities.
  • How long does the conveyancing process take?

The duration of conveyancing can vary depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the transaction and the responsiveness of all parties involved.  A straightforward cash purchase can take 4 weeks.

  • What is a Home Report, and do I need one for conveyancing?

A Home Report is a pack of documents that provides information about the condition, energy efficiency, and valuation of a property. In Scotland, sellers are required to obtain a Home Report before marketing their property for sale.  Prospective purchasers can request a copy of the Home Report to review before making an offer.

  • What is a ‘Disposition’?

A Disposition is a legal document that transfers ownership of a property from the seller to the purchaser.  It is signed by the seller and registered with the Registers of Scotland to officially record the change of ownership.

  • What is the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT)?

LBTT is a tax payable on property transactions in Scotland.  The amount of tax payable depends on the purchase price of the property.  There are different tax bands and rates applicable to residential and commercial properties.  LBTT is the Scottish equivalent of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

  • What is the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS)

This is charged on top of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) if you buy an additional residential property in Scotland, such as second homes and buy-to-let properties.  The current rate is 6% of the purchase price.

  • What are property searches, and why are they necessary?

Property searches involve obtaining information about the property and its surroundings from relevant authorities.  These searches help identify any issues that may affect the property, such as planning restrictions, environmental concerns, or rights of way.  Conducting thorough searches is essential to ensure you are fully informed about the property before completing the transaction.

  • Can I pull out of a property transaction after making an offer?

Once missives (the formal contract) are concluded, it becomes legally binding, and pulling out of the transaction could result in financial penalties.  However, before missives are concluded, either party can withdraw from the transaction without penalty.

  • Can I view the property again before settlement?

You can view the Property again once Missives have concluded.  Solicitors will advise the sellers not to allow access until Missives have concluded as either party can withdraw from the Property prior to this and the solicitor will wish to eliminate any risk of a purchaser changing their minds.

  • At what time do conveyancing transactions settle on the Date of Entry?

The time in which a transaction settles differs on a case by case basis.  Straightforward purchase only transactions can settle in the morning if funds were sent to the selling solicitors the date before settlement, to be held as undelivered.  However, a sale and purchase transaction which involves a chain can settle as late as 5.00 pm (although this would be avoided if possible).  All transactions are reliant on third party searchers providing updated searches as close to settlement as possible so it also depends on the extent of the searchers’ workload as well.