Legal Matters

Deal or No Deal

Murtaza Rasul, Mitchells Roberton Solicitors

A common misconception amongst individuals buying and/or selling property, is that once an offer to purchase* is verbally accepted, the deal is binding and you’re on the ‘home’ straight. A rush of anxiety then ensues as your solicitor advises this is just the first step of many.   

*Q. Can I (as buyer or seller) pull out at this stage? A. Yes you can. 

In Scotland, transactions involving land and property are carried out by the exchange of missives. Missives are formal letters sent between the solicitors for the buying and selling parties. Missives start with an Offer to Purchase containing a raft of “standard” conditions; the property address, price and date of entry and any specific conditions. The seller considers the offer and their solicitor will then send a Qualified Acceptance* of the offer, accepting some of the conditions but rejecting or qualifying others. 

*Q. Can I pull out at this stage? A. Yes you can.

Some to-ing and fro-ing then follows until agreement on all conditions is reached. The final missive is known as the concluding letter* and this seals the deal. 

*Q. Can I pull out at this stage? A. No, not without becoming liable for the seller’s losses arising from your breach of contract. 

If for some reason you can’t go through with the purchase, a disappointed seller can (if they don’t get their money within 14 days after the agreed date of entry) end the contract, put the property back on the market and sue you for their losses including: 

  • the difference between your original offer and a new (lower) offer; 
  • re-marketing costs; and
  • bridging loan costs incurred by the seller if they had a purchase that relied on the sale to you. 

The moral is: don’t get tied into a binding contract by concluding missives before you are sure you can fulfil your part of the bargain. 

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Note: This material is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us. You should not rely upon it in making any decisions or taking or refraining from taking any action. If you would like us to advise you on any matter covered in this material, please contact Murtaza Rasul: email 

Mitchells Roberton Solicitors
George House
36 North Hanover Street
0141 552 3422

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