Buying and selling property can be a stressful experience, especially for first-time buyers or those unfamiliar with the Scottish legal system. A large part of this may be due to confusing terminology, and a lack of understanding of the process.

Below is a summary of key terms you may hear when buying or selling property, to help demystify the world of Scottish conveyancing, and make the process easier to follow.


The missives are a set of formal letters between solicitors for the purchaser and seller. They set out the terms and conditions, and rights and obligations, relating to the transaction, such as the price and date of entry. The first formal letter in the missives is an offer, prepared by the purchaser’s solicitor, which is usually met with a qualified acceptance prepared by the seller’s solicitor. After this, you may hear of missives being ‘concluded’ – which means that agreement has been reached, and the purchaser and the seller now have a binding contract to complete the transaction.

Scottish Standard Clauses

The Scottish Standard Clauses are a set of terms which are usually incorporated into the missives of most residential transactions in Scotland. They were designed to protect both the seller and purchasers’ interests and to simplify the process.


When purchasing a property, it is important to know whether the property is affected by any issues. The seller’s solicitor will usually provide the purchaser’s solicitor with what are commonly referred to as ‘searches’. For most transactions, this will include a Property Enquiry Certificate, and Legal Report, and if the property is in Glasgow, a Coal Mining Report is usually required. Other searches may be necessary depending on the circumstances of the property. The Property Enquiry Certificate provides information from the local authority, such as whether the property has mains drainage and water, if it’s a listed building or in a conservation area, and if the roads adjacent to the property are adopted. The Legal Report identifies who owns the property, and provides further information as to whether there might be any financial issues which prevent the property from being sold. A Coal Report is useful where the property is in a former coal mining area, such as Glasgow, and provides details of whether any past, present or future coal mining may affect the property.

Home Report

The sale of most property in Scotland requires a Home Report to be prepared. The Home Report is a document which tells a buyer certain information about the property, such as the value and condition of the property and how energy efficient the property is. It consists of three parts – a survey prepared by a surveyor; an Energy Performance Certificate; and a property questionnaire.

Title Deeds

The title deeds are the documents which provide details of who owns a particular property, and whether there are any encumbrances or conditions which affect the property. You may hear of a property being referred to as a ‘Sasine title’ or a ‘Land Registered title’. Land in Scotland is registered in either the Sasine Register or the Land Register. Dating back to 1617, the sasine register is the oldest national public register of land in the world. However, the Land Register was introduced in 1981. Based on the Ordnance Survey map, the Land Register provides a clearer picture of land ownership in Scotland. If you buy a property in Scotland, details of the purchase are recorded in the Land Register, in the form of a title sheet.


This is the legal document which transfers ownership of a property from the seller to the purchaser. The disposition is signed by the seller, and provides details of the buyer, the seller, and the legal description of the property. This is registered in the Land Register following settlement to formalise the transaction.

Standard Security

If you purchase a property using a mortgage, the lender will usually require a standard security over the property. This is a document creating a legal charge, which is registered over the property in the Land Register. The standard security provides the lender with rights if the borrower falls behind on mortgage payments, such as the right to take possession of the property and sell it. The title sheet for the property will also include the details of the standard security.


If you have a mortgage for your property, and you pay the mortgage off, often through selling the property or remortgaging with a different lender, a discharge is necessary to remove the standard security from the Land Register. This is a document which ‘discharges’ the security over the property, and can be prepared by a solicitor. Most discharges are now digital, meaning no physical paper deed is sent to the lender for signing, and usually only takes a short time to take effect.


Once missives have been concluded, and a Date of Entry has been set – settlement takes place on the Date of Entry. At settlement, the sale price is paid to the seller, and the keys to the property are made available to the purchaser. This is the final step in the process of purchasing a property.

Understanding these key terms will help you to navigate the Scottish conveyancing system with confidence. If you have any questions about one of the terms above, an aspect of the conveyancing process, or need advice specific to your transaction – please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0141 333 6750.


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