If you thought buying a house in Scotland was tough, just try securing a place in London

_By Kirsty McLuckie_

Take heart if you have ever had problems securing your dream home. In Scotland we may have the uncertainties of the offers-over system to contend with but even experienced property experts can fall foul of the English system.

Edinburgh-based residential property agent, David Alexander, has been trying to buy a home in London, where his company, D.J. Alexander, has just opened offices.

"After several viewings I cam across a property I really liked in Queens Gate, Kensington," he says. "So I talked it over with the seller and we agreed a price of £4 million. Everything was hunky dory – until the day before I was due to move in, when I received a call from the vendor’s agent to say his client was selling to another party, who had come in with a late offer worth £100,000 more than mine."

This left Alexander thousands of pounds out of pocket in lawyer’s fees and removal arrangements but he assumed he had just been unlucky and this would be a one-off. Not so.

Despite his offer on the next property being the highest one at the closing date, again the house went to someone who came with some extra cash afterwards.

He says: "Buying a home in Scotland is not without its frustrations but the system has a built-in integrity that’s missing in London. Once a closing date has passed, it should not be possible to sell to any last-minute bidder who comes in with an offer higher than the one formally accepted. If the seller tries to break the agreement, under Law Society of Scotland rules his solicitor has to stop acting on his behalf."

"As someone who was once a struggling first-time buyer myself, I can sympathise with young couples in Scotland who pay over the odds because or blind bidding, or fork out on multiple surveys. But this is a price worth paying if it means buyers avoiding the unmarked hole in the ground that is ever present when negotiating the market south of the Border."

The Scotsman, 24 January 2008