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Frequently Asked Questions when you are Buying and Selling a Property

Over the years we have been assisting our clients and advising them in the many queries that they have regarding the process and what they should expect when they are buying and selling their home. It may be that you are a first time buyer or it may be that this is the first time that you have sold and bought a new home or it could be that it has been a number of years since you have been through the process. We have compiled a list of some of the more frequently asked questions with our response in the hope that this may assist you at the outset of the process. Of course if your query is not covered in this section then please do not hesitate to contact us so we can assist you.

Are there are any documents I need to sign?

A: For a Purchase

In all purchase transactions you will require to sign the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Return Form. If you are obtaining a mortgage you will also require to sign the Standard Security (mortgage deed) in favour of your lender. This deed will be registered alongside the Title Deed in your name until such time as you have redeemed your loan. 

For a Sale

You will require to sign a Disposition (Title Deed) granted by you in favour of the purchaser(s). This is the deed that transfers ownership from yourself into the name of your purchaser(s). This deed will be sent to the purchaser’s solicitor once the sale has settled.

Whether it is a purchase or a sale transaction or both, you will require to sign all the documentation before settlement can take place. In a normal transaction we would be arranging for you to attend the office either the week before or on the week of settlement for your documentation to be signed.

Where will the keys be at settlement and when will I get them?

A: Purchase

It is usual that the keys for the property that you are buying be left with the estate agents or at least for one set of the keys to be there. We usually advise our clients that they should be aiming for lunchtime for keys to be available.


We would recommend that you leave a spare set of keys with the estate agents who marketed the property for you in the week prior to settlement. This means that on settlement day you do not have to worry about having to pack up and vacate the premises and arrange for a set of keys to be handed in to the estate agent before you can go and uplift the keys for your new home. You will have enough to do on that day and we always recommend that the spare set be left in advance. The estate agent will not release the keys to the purchasers until such time as they have received confirmation from us that the transaction has settled and we have authorised release of the keys. Again we normally say that settlement and release of the keys takes place around lunchtime.

Do I have to contact anyone before the date of entry?

A: Purchase

At settlement you require to contact the Council Tax Office of the local authority where you have moved to, to advise them as to the change of ownership at settlement. You should also take meter readings for the gas and electricity when you take entry to the property and contact the utility providers for the details of whom you will find from the property questionnaire of the home report and advise them of the meter readings upon your entry to the property.


At settlement you are under an obligation to notify the Council Tax Office of your local authority that there has been a change of ownership and that you are no longer the priority of the property. You should also take meter readings upon your exit and contact your utility providers to advise them as to the final meter reading for your account.

Do I have to pay the supplementary land and buildings tax ?

A: You will need to pay it if you own another property in Scotland and or elsewhere. There are exceptions though. We are happy to give you advice on this matter

I am separating from my spouse/partner and we are selling our house do you need extra documentation?

A: Yes , you should enter into a Separation agreeement regulating the sale and stipulating what will happen to the proceeds . You should put this in place before the house goes onto the market.

Do I need a survey ?

For a Purchase:

Usually no as there will be a home report. The Home Report is divided into three parts - the valuation, property questionnaire and the energy pregnancy certificate. The valuation is the equivalent of a scheme 2 survey. If the property though is an older property you may wish to instruct a fuller survey or specialist reports such as for dry rot, wet rot etc.

Now that I'm a home owner do I need a will?

A: Yes , you should make a will in any event - see our section on Wills

What items can I remove?

A: Sale

The rule of thumb is that anything which is attached or fixed to the property is a fixture and cannot be removed without agreement. For example plants in the garden are now part of the property as are light fittings, curtain poles and bathroom fittings. You may be able with consent to remove them with consent but the purchaser will expect for example bayonet fittings so he is not greeted by bare wires. What is and is not to be included in the price should be agreed at the missives stage.

What if I move in and find something doesn't work?

A: This depends what items are covered by the missives. Usually, unless otherwise agreed the heating, plumbing and other mains systems are covered for a period of 5 working days. You should contact your solicitor immediately to see if the items are covered. Sometimes although it looks like it is covered it may be seen as de minimum. In short you cannot claim if the claim is below a certain level

Will you charge me for intimating a potential claim?

A: No, we will intimate the claim as part of your original conveyancing fee. If the seller refuses to pay , then we can pursue the matter for you but we will have to issue you with a fresh letter of engagement stipulating our legal fees as this would be an entirely new matter . If you do not wish to pursue the claim but resolve the matter yourself let us know - we have a list of local tradesmen.

How do I use my cash ISA in the purchase?

A: For a Purchase

You should close your account and obtain a closure certificate . We will upload it to the system. We need at least 5 working days to draw the funds down.

Where will you pay the net free proceeds?

A :We can pay them directly into your bank account. If you wish them to be paid elsewhere we will need written instructions.

Is it safe to allow the purchaser into the property when the price is paid by cheque?

A: Yes it is guaranteed by the Law Society of Scotland indemnity policy.

When will we receive the net free proceeds of sale?

A: As settlements in Scotland are usually by way of solicitors cheque we need to wait until the cheque clears the banking system - usually 5 working days. If the purchaser agrees to settle by bank transfer then obviously we can transfer them shortly after settlement.

How do you physically pay for the property?

A: We will send a solicitors cheque which is guaranteed as it is covered by the Law Society of Scotland indemnity policy. Sometimes though we will have to pay by means of cleared funds and it is a matter of negotiation as to who pays the bank transfer fees - the purchaser or the seller.

What if I'm getting a cash back from the lenders - will this be included in the final figures?

A: No because the cash back may only be available after settlement. Some lenders pay it to the client direct. If we receive it we will forward it to you as soon as practicable.

In a purchase - how do we pay the purchase price?

A: For a Purchase

We will draw down your loan funds and calculate the balance required to settle the transaction. We will include in that figure the land and building transaction, tax, registration dues of the title and loan document , our fees and any other outlays. We will provide this figure to you a few days before settlement and we will ask that the money is transferred into our clients account. We will need to see evidence of where the money has come from- for example comply bank statements.

When do you need me to sign Missives?

A: You will often hear the term “signing Missives” in connection with a conveyancing transaction. Strictly speaking the Missives are the formal letters between the Purchasers and Sellers Solicitors and they form the basis of the contract between parties. The missives are signed on your behalf by your solicitor and you do not require to sign them personally. We will take your instructions on the Missives before issuing any formal letter on your behalf and we will advise you when the Missives have been concluded i.e. when you have a binding contract in place.

How quickly will missives be completed?

For a Purchase :

A: That depends on the purchaser. Usually the purchaser will not wish to progress missives until he and his solicitors have their loan papers. The solicitors cannot use the borrowers papers but they have to wait for their own loan instructions. We will try and get missives concluded as soon as possible . Sometimes the purchaser though has to wait until he has concluded missives for his own house before he can progress his purchase.

Do Claphams Solicitors offer Legal Aid?

We cannot offer legal aid for any of our services.

What if I move in and find something does not work?

This depends what items are covered by the missives. Unless otherwise agreed, the heating, plumbing and other mains systems are protected for a period of five working days. You should contact your solicitor immediately to see if the items which are faulty are covered. In some cases, although it may look like it is covered, the fault may be considered too minor. In other words, you cannot claim if the claim is below a certain level. If you want something to be included in the missives then you must state this to your solicitor so they can cover this in the property negotiations prior to the sale/purchase.

Where you discover a fault with something in the property after the conclusion of the missives and after five working days have passed, there is little you can do to claim back against the seller. It is often less costly to pay for a minor repair to be done through your own funds rather than taking legal action to have it paid for.

Claphams Solicitors are happy to recommend local tradesmen in the Southside area of Glasgow to our clients to rectify any faults they discover after the conclusion of the missives.

Do I get to keep the title deeds?

Title deeds are the documents that set out who owns a property and what is deemed to form part of the property. The deeds will include, for example, where the boundary of a property is and any rights of access applicable to the property.

Upon purchase of a property the title deeds are registered with the Land Register of Scotland to allow an up to date record of who owns a property to be maintained. Given most homes are bought with a mortgage, it is unlikely that you will have possession of the original title deeds when you first move into your property. The original copy of the title deeds will be held by your mortgage lender until you have paid off your mortgage and have full ownership of the property. Your mortgage lender needs to retain the original copy of the title deeds as a form of security in the event that you can no longer continue to pay your mortgage. You can, however, request a copy of the title deeds from your lender during the time that it has control of them (there may be a fee for doing so).

Once you have paid off your mortgage, your solicitor will normally store your title deeds safely for you. However, you can choose to store them yourself. If you opt to do this then you must ensure they are kept securely so they cannot be lost or damaged as they will be needed for any future sale of the property. They may also be needed to settle any dispute over boundaries and repairs to the property.

Contact Claphams Solicitors in Clarkston 

If you have any further questions or enquiries about our legal services, contact us today on 0141 620 0800 or fill out our online enquiry form.




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Please note we are a firm of Scottish Solicitors helping clients across Scotland and cannot help you if you are based in England.