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England vs Scotland: a house or a hoose?


As it’s Burns Night this week we asked one of our Glaswegian advisers, Sarah Aitken who recently purchased property over there, what the main differences are between buying in England and Scotland…

So you are lucky enough to have the option of buying somewhere in England or Scotland? For rental purposes maybe?

There are couple of differences that you should be aware of before venturing forward.

Are you tired of having to pay for home survey’s just to find out that your flat was built on top of an Indian Burial Ground? Well, in Scotland the vendor has to pay for a homebuyers report before they can market their property. Afterwards, the estate agent can email the report to interested buyers who can analyse it and are then aware of any hidden issues (ghosts) before making an offer. This is beneficial as it reduces the risk of withdrawal because of a poor survey result.

Another difference with buying a property in Scotland is that there is no freehold and leasehold distinction. What you buy a property north of the border it is 100% yours and you are the “freeholder”, the boss, head honcho, el numero uno or Mr Big (“IT Crowd” quote for whoever has a real life). The desirability of having 100% ownership is that there is no other landlord controlling how the property is managed with extra service charges etc. In addition the buyer does not need to worry about having to pay a premium to extend their lease before it expires.

In England you usually make an offer via an estate agent. I made several that were accepted before actually buying my flat (the agents are still looking for me). In Scotland however you have to pay for a solicitor to write a formal offer to the vendor’s solicitors so they are more likely to attract serious buyers and avoid disappearing acts. In England, we are used to the traditional 10% deposit payment followed by completion. The 10% deposit is paid upon exchange of contracts. In Scotland, deposits are not usually used and the full price is paid on completion. The contract is formed by a series of “missives”. These are basically letters between the buyer and seller’s solicitors which contains the terms of the contract.

Scottish brick and mortar comes with a cheaper price tag in comparison to many parts of England. How much cheaper? What can you get for £500k in Central London? A one bed flat? Maybe a two bed if you are lucky? You can buy a medieval castle for that price just north of Glasgow.

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