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What happens on the closing date in Scotland? Advice for buyers and sellers

14 January 2021 Written by Davidson Shirley Solicitors Category: Residential Conveyancing

Closing dates are a peculiarity of the Scottish property market. If you are buying or selling a home in Scotland, you are likely to come across this process, whether it ends up being used in your transaction or not.

In this article, we explain what happens before, on and after the closing date, and provide guidance for sellers and buyers on how to manage this process. For further, bespoke advice on this matter or for any other residential conveyancing concern, please do not hesitate to contact the knowledgeable and helpful team at Davidson & Shirley.

How do closing dates work?

The closing date is a day and time set by the seller on which all parties interested in buying the property should send their offers. It works like a blind auction; the buyers submit their bids without any knowledge of the details of the competing offers.

The process is most advantageous for sellers as it encourages buyers to give their best and final bids, allowing the seller to compare all the offers at once and select the most desirable one. It is also designed to be a fair and equal system for buyers; however, it does introduce uncertainty and often some difficult decision-making for them.

What happens before a closing date?

Before a closing date is set, potential buyers will have the opportunity to submit a note of interest on the property. This means the home will not be sold without giving them the chance to make an offer. The buyer’s conveyancing lawyer will note interest on their behalf and let them know how many other people have done the same, giving them an idea of the level of competition.  

Once there are two or three notes of interest on the property, the seller will usually set a closing date.

What happens on the closing date?

All offers must be submitted by a certain time on the closing date, usually noon. The seller will review the bids, consult their solicitor and make a decision before the end of the day. The successful and unsuccessful parties will be notified of the outcome by their lawyers.

What happens after the closing date?

The conveyancing solicitors for the seller and buyer will work on finalising the contract and the legal process of transferring the ownership of the property. This takes, on average, between 6 and 8 weeks; however, all transactions are different and the individual circumstances and market conditions may mean the sale takes longer to conclude.

Are closing dates common?

Yes, many property transactions in Scotland will be sold in this way. Although not as common, however, in some situations an individual offer may be accepted by the seller. This might occur if a buyer is very interested in the property and wants to secure it before it goes to a closing date or if there is not much interest in the home, but the seller needs a quick sale.

Closing date advice for sellers

When should a closing date be set?

Your estate agent will advise you on the best time to set a closing date, which is usually once you have received two or more notes of interest. However, other factors will play an important role, including how long your property has been on the market, the number of future viewings booked, local market conditions and your circumstances.

Timing is key. If your property remains on the market for too long, you could lose the interest of genuine buyers, who may focus their attention elsewhere. Properties tend to receive the most amount of interest in the first two or three weeks of being on the market.

On the closing date, should I accept the highest offer?

While the price is crucial, there are other elements to consider when reviewing and choosing the best offer for you. 

  • Does the buyer need to sell a property to fund the purchase?
  • Will the buyer require a mortgage or have they presented a cash offer?
  • What is the buyer’s preferred date of entry?

If there is an offer that stands out, but you are not entirely happy with the conditions, your solicitor may be able to negotiate these points with the potential buyer. Alternatively, you do not have to accept any of the offers submitted and can leave your property on the market instead.

Closing date advice for buyers

If I have noted interest, do I have to make an offer?

No, there is no obligation to make an offer on the closing date if you have previously noted interest in the property. You may change your mind, find a more suitable home or discover that there is more competition in the property than you are willing or able to take on.

How much should I offer on the closing date?

Although your property lawyer can advise, the amount you offer is ultimately up to you. Think carefully about your financial situation, the property itself and how much you are willing to pay for it – which should not be confused with how much you can afford.

Your solicitor will also inform you of how many other people are interested in the property. The more competition, the more you are likely to need to offer to be in with a chance.

What other details should I include with my offer?

Your bid must be as detailed as possible so the seller is clear about your position and can compare it to the others. You should include whether you require a mortgage and if you need to sell your home to fund the transaction. Your solicitor will also provide with your offer: your preferred date of entry; any items in the property you wish to be included in the sale; and any specialist surveys or reports that need to be arranged based on the Home Report, e.g., to investigate the condition of the roof.

If I am unsuccessful, will I find out what price was accepted?

No, this is confidential information, at least until the transaction is complete. However, your lawyer may be able to give you an idea of how close you were to securing the property, which can be useful information for future bids you make on similar properties in the area.

If my offer is accepted, what should I do next?

Your property solicitor will lead the conveyancing process and keep you informed throughout. If applicable, you must notify your mortgage provider so they can approve your loan, and now is the time to arrange a building insurance policy to start on the agreed date of entry.

Contact our Conveyancing Lawyers in Lanark, Hamilton, Carluke & Strathaven, Scotland

If you have any questions about the issues discussed here, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our residential conveyancing team. Call us on 01555 662576 or fill out our online enquiry form for more information.

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