Making an offer on a house before selling yours Scotland

Buying a new home is an exciting yet complex process, especially when it involves making an offer before selling your current property. This strategy, known as contingent buying, can be particularly challenging in the Scottish real estate market due to its unique legal and financial landscape. In this guide, we’ll delve into the pros and cons of making an offer on a house before selling yours in Scotland, offering insights and considerations to help you navigate this decision effectively.

Understanding the Scottish Real Estate Market: Before delving into the specifics of contingent buying, it’s essential to grasp the fundamental aspects of the Scottish real estate market. Unlike other regions in the UK, Scotland operates under its own legal system, including distinct property laws and procedures. Key features of the Scottish property market include the role of solicitors, the use of the “offers over” system, and the prevalence of Home Reports. Familiarizing yourself with these aspects will provide a solid foundation for evaluating the feasibility of making an offer before selling your home.

The Contingent Buying Process: Contingent buying involves making an offer on a new property while contingent upon the sale of your existing home. In Scotland, this process typically begins with identifying a suitable property and engaging with estate agents or solicitors to submit an offer. However, unlike in other regions where offers are often subject to financing or inspection contingencies, Scottish offers are commonly made “subject to survey” or “subject to contract.” This distinction reflects the unique legal framework of property transactions in Scotland.

Pros of Making an Offer Before Selling Your Home:

  1. Seizing Opportunities: Making an offer on a new property before selling yours allows you to act swiftly in a competitive market, especially when encountering desirable listings.
  2. Negotiating Power: By having an offer in hand, you may negotiate more effectively with sellers, potentially securing a favorable deal or preferred terms.
  3. Certainty of Purchase: Conditional offers can provide a degree of certainty in uncertain market conditions, reducing the risk of losing out on your preferred property.
  4. Flexibility in Timing: Contingent buying offers flexibility in timing the transition between homes, allowing for smoother logistics and reduced stress.

Cons of Making an Offer Before Selling Your Home:

  1. Financial Risk: If your existing home fails to sell within the specified timeframe, you may face financial strain from carrying two mortgages simultaneously.
  2. Limited Bargaining Power: Sellers may perceive contingent offers as less attractive due to their dependence on the sale of another property, potentially weakening your negotiating position.
  3. Uncertainty: Contingent buying introduces a level of uncertainty into the transaction, as the sale of your home is a crucial prerequisite for finalizing the purchase of the new property.
  4. Market Conditions: Fluctuations in the real estate market can impact the feasibility of contingent buying, with downturns potentially prolonging the sale of your current home.

Mitigating Risks and Maximizing Opportunities: While contingent buying presents both risks and benefits, there are strategies to mitigate potential drawbacks and enhance your chances of success:

  1. Pricing Strategy: Setting a realistic asking price for your current home can expedite its sale and minimize the risk of prolonged carrying costs.
  2. Contingency Period: Negotiating a reasonable contingency period in your offer allows sufficient time to sell your existing property without unduly prolonging the transaction.
  3. Financial Planning: Working closely with a mortgage advisor and financial planner can help assess your affordability and develop contingency plans in case of unforeseen circumstances.
  4. Alternative Options: Exploring alternative financing options, such as bridging loans or sale-and-rent-back schemes, can provide additional flexibility in managing the transition between properties.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations: Navigating contingent buying in Scotland entails compliance with various legal and regulatory requirements, including:

  1. Home Reports: Ensuring compliance with the Home Report legislation, which mandates the provision of comprehensive property information to prospective buyers.
  2. Offer Acceptance: Understanding the legal implications of offer acceptance, including the formation of a binding contract upon mutual agreement between buyer and seller.
  3. Solicitor Representation: Engaging a qualified solicitor with expertise in Scottish property law is essential for navigating the intricacies of contingent buying and ensuring legal compliance throughout the transaction.


Making an offer on a house before selling yours in Scotland involves careful consideration of the unique market dynamics, legal requirements, and financial implications. While contingent buying offers opportunities for seizing desirable properties and negotiating favourable terms, it also entails inherent risks, such as financial strain and uncertainty. By understanding the pros and cons, adopting prudent strategies, and seeking professional guidance, homebuyers can effectively navigate contingent buying and achieve their desired outcomes in the Scottish real estate market.

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