A guide to buying property in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Leven, Cupar and St Andrews

This guide will be applicable to Scotland only. Please note if you have to sell before buying then please refer to "Selling with us" first.

Once you are in a position to offer make sure that you are registered with us so you will be advised as soon as we list a property which matches your criteria. It is also worth extending your search by registering on other appropriate sites as well. Then organise viewings, compile your shortlist, visit possible purchases at different times of the day, evening and night to assess the environment around. Once you have found that perfect property our experts can offer their objective view. E.g. Will it resell? Are there any obvious problems? Will it Let and what rent level will I get?

Sometimes it could be that someone else might be interested, therefore it is important to instruct a solicitor to note an interest for you. This will ensure that you are kept informed of any closing dates or other developments relating to the property. It will also be important to seek sound advice on what tactics are appropriate to secure the property.

You should assess your overall financial position, especially if there are to be proceeds from the sale of an existing property. Getting professional mortgage advice is a must and we can refer you to an independent mortgage advisor who can help you find the most suitable mortgage from a range of mortgage products from all the main lenders.

From December 1st, 2008 all properties for sale in Scotland must by law be marketed complete with a Home Report. The Home Report contains detailed information on the property along with a survey and valuation which is issued by a chartered surveyor. A few lenders will not accept a Home Report for lending purposes if the chartered surveyor is not on their approved panel and if a purchaser has committed to using such a lender they will incur a further cost for a further valuation. The bulk of lenders however, will accept Home Reports as long as they are less than 12 weeks old. If Home Reports are older than 12 weeks old then they should be refreshed either by the purchaser or possibly the seller. You are however still entitled to instructing a separate valuation at your own cost. The survey will also indicate if any alterations or extensions have been made to the property.

If everything is fine up to this point with the Home Report or your own Survey and finance, the next important stage is to negotiate the offer. This will involve discussing with a solicitor details of the offer you would like to submit, which will include not only the price you want to pay for the property, but also the entry date and the fixtures and fittings to be included in the sale. The offer can be complex in order to protect you against all the pitfalls of buying a property, so it is important to get it right first time and that you do use a proper legal specialist in this matter.

A written offer will be signed and submitted on your behalf by your solicitor to the seller through their agent. They will ensure that where a closing date has been set, your bid is lodged in good time and in the most relevant format.

Your solicitor will be advised by the party selling whether the bid has been successful or not. If it is successful they will then negotiate on the terms of the purchase with the seller. This normally takes the form of an exchange of letters (missives), between the sellers and purchasers agents until the missives are concluded.

Usually at this point your solicitor will also have sight of the title deeds for the property and paperwork for alteration/specialist treatments. On receipt of these they will liaise with the Surveyor to ensure that the documentation for alterations/specialist treatments coincides with what they noted during their Survey. If it doesn't they will ascertain what further documentation is required from the Seller to cover any alterations/treatments made. They will also check the title deeds for the property and send a Title Report to you giving you a description of the property you are purchasing, the rights which will apply to you and the conditions of ownership you will have to adhere to you upon taking ownership. They will then prepare a transfer document. Your solicitor will liaise with your lender to ensure that all the necessary finance is in place.

The penultimate stage involves the preparation of the security (mortgage) document. The lender will instruct your solicitor to undertake this transaction. Finally, they will ensure the co-ordination of settlement which involves them drawing together all the various strands of the transaction notably, the title deeds, all appropriate documents (such as completion certificates, etc), making sure the finance is in place and that the date of entry is agreed. Once all of this is satisfactorily concluded, the final stage will be to arrange for the release of the keys to you at the agreed time.