Can I market my house without a Home Report?
Generally no. It is the law in Scotland that anyone marketing a house for sale (subject to some exceptions such as builders selling a newly built property) must have a Home Report before marketing starts. This would include a situation where you advertise the property for sale yourself. If you arrange a private sale, where there has been no marketing or advertising, then no Home Report would be required.
Does the Home Report have to be renewed after 3 months?
No. There is no provision in the legislation requiring a Home report to be updated. However, a buyer may find that their lender will not accept a home report valuation if the valuation is 3 months old and may request that the valuation be updated. It is a matter of negotiation between a buyer and a seller as to who would be responsible for that, although most surveyors will provide an update at a fraction of the cost of the full report.
Once my house is on the market do I have to accept an offer?
No. As seller it is up to you whether any offer is accepted, including at a closing date (see below). Even if the offer is thousands of pounds over your asking price you have no obligation to accept.
What is a closing date?
A closing date for offers is fixed when more than one party wishes to submit an offer. The closing date is set for a particular time on a particular day and all interested parties are invited to submit their offers at that time. The advantage of this system to buyers is that they can offer with the security that their price is not simply being used to “talk up” another interested party. The advantage to sellers is that the system will usually mean that those interested will offer the best price they can. However, the seller is not obliged to accept an offer at a closing date if none of the offers is acceptable on the basis of price or any of the other conditions.
Can I accept a higher offer after a closing date?
Again the main principle is that the seller is free to proceed as the seller wishes unless contractually bound. However, your solicitor may have difficulty in accepting another offer on your behalf if you have already instructed the solicitor to issue an acceptance of an offer received at the closing date and you then wish to accept a new offer submitted later. The rules on what your solicitor can do in these circumstances are laid down by The Law Society. If two or more offers at the closing date are to all intents and purposes identical your solicitor can invite all the parties to revise their offer.
Is the contract binding straight away?
No. If you instruct your solicitor to accept an offer then most usually this will be done by issuing a qualified acceptance. This contains more conditions which the buyer must accept in writing before the contract is concluded and is binding. Your solicitor should make clear the points at which the contract is not binding and should confirm once it is. This is often referred to conclusion of missives.
What do I have to produce to the buyer?
There are a number of items the seller must produce, some of which have to be paid for. Broadly speaking you must satisfy the buyer that you have good title to what you are selling, that there are no legal impediments to the sale and that there are no local authority matters which would affect the sale, or the buyer’s use of the property. Some of these are more specifically referred to in the other legal section of the site under buying a house.
What happens to my mortgage?
Your mortgage must be repaid when the sale is completed. Your solicitor will obtain a statement of the amount due from your lender, calculated to the repayment date. Your solicitor must be in a position to repay the mortgage or the sale cannot be completed. If you have any doubts about whether the sale price will be sufficient to repay the loan you must tell your solicitor at the earliest possible time. If there are any doubts you should obtain a redemption statement before the house is sold.