The slim possibility of independence for Scots from the rest of the UK in the short term raises an old chestnut that has not been discussed south of the border for some years - can the Scottish system of buying a home teach the English and Welsh any lessons?
Full details of the Scottish system are far too long for a blog - if you are interested you can see them here - but could the English and Welsh benefit from some elements of how people buy homes north of the border? Namely:
1. ‘Offers Over” - that is, pricing properties at the lowest acceptable price, rather than at a loosely-fixed price as in the rest of the UK. It is not unusual, even in these straitened times, for Scottish prices to end up 20 per cent over the acceptable minimum as a result of the offers over system. Sellers may benefit, but would there be any help in this system for purchasers?
2. Offers Deadlines - this means that on the one hand it’s difficult (almost impossible, in fact) to negotiate on price because offers are made confidentially, by a specific date, and the purpose is to beat rivals to the house by making the largest bid. One side-effect of this is that it obliges prospective buyers to get their finances in order before making an offer;
3. Compensation Threats - once an offer is made and accepted, a purchaser risks having to pay compensation if (s)he pulls out. This is perhaps the most critical difference to the system which operates in England and Wales. Given the number of collapsing chains, sometimes because of buyers not preparing their finances or ‘getting cold feet’, would this system help keep chains stronger?
Lawyers and estate agents will know there are variations to these three key differences outlined above, but for the purposes of broad debate, let's ask the question - can ‘we’ in England and Wales learn anything from ‘them’ in Scotland?
With national differences set to dominate the political stage for the next two years, there is a topical reason to at least consider whether the answer might just be Yes.
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