Missives, missives, missives…what are they and why can’t I just pick up the keys?
Once your Offer has been verbally accepted, there is still quite a long way to go until you can pick up the keys. In Scotland, the contract for your purchase is concluded by the buyer and seller’s solicitors exchanging letters. These letters are called ‘missives’ and the original written offer is the first missive.
The conclusion of the contract is called ‘conclusion of missives’. At this stage, there is a binding contract in place: the seller is legally obliged to sell their property to the buyer and the buyer has to pay the seller the purchase price on a certain date.
Even though missives might be concluded, you still can’t pick up keys until the Date of Entry, the day on which you agreed to pay the purchase price and for the seller to hand over ownership of their house to you.
How long will this process take? Surely it’s pretty simple?
Conclusion of missives doesn’t take a set period of time, sadly. Three main things will hold-up conclusion of missives, assuming that the solicitors are working as efficiently as they can:
- How many issues the buyer and seller are disagreeing about.
- The buyer’s lender delaying sending through paperwork about their mortgage.
- Issues coming out of the woodwork that sometimes even the seller wasn’t aware of.
In theory, if the seller agrees to everything in the buyer’s written offer, missives can be concluded in the space of two letters. However, this is very unusual and the buyer’s offer is most often subject to survey which means that the seller can’t just accept the offer in its current form.
Lenders are, in our experience, woefully slow in general in producing paperwork for the buyer’s mortgage and also in returning the seller’s Title Deeds and this can cause a lot of delays in the conclusion of missives.
Finally, part of the missives process involves the seller’s solicitor producing proof to the buyer’s solicitor that there are no reasons why the seller can’t sell the property (for example, it’s not actually theirs or there has been a legal order preventing the person from disposing of the property) and, in certain areas of Scotland such as Edinburgh, proof of there being no outstanding bills from the local Council for communal repairs.
The Council can also be quite slow in producing this paperwork and, when produced, this can open a whole can of worms as the price is renegotiated to take account of the outstanding bills.
Argh, the boiler packed-in the day after moving in…can I do anything?
That depends on the terms of your missives. But normally there will be a condition in there that you have a reasonable time to check that the various parts of the property are in working order.
Just go back to your solicitor, as soon as you possibly can, and let them know so that they can get in touch with the seller’s solicitor to make a claim.
Is there anything else I should prepare for?
You are moving house, so the usual things will apply for any house mover. You’ll need to look at getting your mail redirected, get in touch with any tradesmen that you think will be necessary in advance of you moving in, and arrange a removal van if necessary.
You’ll also need to make sure that you are able to transfer the funds for the purchase to your solicitor’s bank account prior to the Date of Entry. So, if you’ve got your ‘deposit’ tied-up in a bank account that has a 30 day notice period for you to be able to access the cash, you’ll need to think about that as soon as possible!
Your solicitor should guide you through the remainder of the process.
Of course, this Guide is as comprehensive as we can make it but we can’t cover all scenarios. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at MOV8 Conveyancing and we’ll happily talk you through the whole process.