In amongst all the chaos down in Westminster, Scotland has had a couple of pieces of good national news. Firstly, while the unemployment rate may have risen across the UK, it has hit a record-breaking low of 3.7% in Scotland. Secondly, official figures released show a 21% year on year rise in the number of affordable homes built in Scotland, with 18,182 homes completed between June 2017 and 2018 alone. Couple that with the news that outside London monthly mortgage payments are cheaper than paying rent on the same property, it seems like now is a good time to review some of the legal questions you should be asking when buying a house.
Have you planned for the future?
It can be easy to get swept up in the romance of buying a home, and we are not trying to burst your bubble. However, there is only so far you should take living in the moment with an investment this big, and it is important to think about your future security when making your purchase. If you are buying as part of a couple, having your name on the deed provides you with the greatest security in the unfortunate event of a relationship breakdown or financial troubles. This is more important if you are unmarried, because fewer legal protections exist for unmarried partners.
It also makes sense to plan for the unthinkable. Check your conveyance includes a survivorship clause which ensures the surviving partner gains full ownership of the property if one of you die. If you are the sole owner, it might be worth looking into something called a ‘special destination' which specifies an individual upon which your property is automatically transferred to in the event of your death. This saves time and money of transferring the property to an executor who then transfers it to your chosen beneficiary.
What are your liabilities?
When you are in the process of buying a house, checks will usually take place on your behalf to determine the state of the property, any repairs which need to be carried out, and any legal obligations which fall upon the owner of the property. For example, will you be taking on responsibility for maintaining or paying towards the maintenance of any common areas, perhaps stairs or communal gardens? Would you own or have a responsibility for the upkeep of any access roads? All of these things could potentially have significant financial implications.
A good conveyancing solicitor, surveyor and doing your due diligence should all help you to work this out, but it is worth taking the time to consider any liabilities and what they mean for you fully. Your conveyancer knows the law and will be able to explain it to you, but they will not have the same intimate understanding of your situation, so it is incumbent on you to have a good understanding of what you would be taking on. Think about whether any possible costs or responsibilities will work for you, or have an impact on the desirability of the purchase.
Is your conveyancer right for you?
In Scotland, the law requires that a licensed conveyancer guides you through the paperwork necessary to buy a house. We believe this is a good thing, despite the cost, because the right conveyancer can save you hours of time and worry later. A good conveyancer will guide you through all of the issues we have discussed and many more, allowing you to complete your purchase in good time and on a solid legal footing. With such a crucial role to play, it is crucial that the conveyancer you choose is the right one for you. Think about:
Pricing is a key consideration, especially when you are already making such an expensive purchase, but try to do your research. Some fees which seem higher on first glance may include costs that have been left out of other quotes. It's also important to understand the market range of conveyancers' fees in your location to give some context to the quotes you have been given. Anything significantly higher or lower than the average market rates should raise eyebrows.
Is your conveyancer friendly, professional and informative without trying to push you into anything? Do they pass the all-important gut feeling test? Your conveyancer is going to be responsible for making decisions and providing support which is crucial to your future, so make sure you pick someone you trust to have your best interests at heart.
Contact our expert conveyancing lawyers in Paisley and Glasgow
Our conveyancing solicitors have years of experience under their belts, dealing with all types of purchases. We understand the huge impact buying property can have on your life, which is why we aim to provide trustworthy, professional and straightforward assistance to you at all stages in the process.