Missives hold a significant role in the purchase and sale of properties. Defined as a series of formal letters or written communications between solicitors, missives serve as the foundation for the legally binding contract governing the sale of property, including houses, flats, buildings, structures, and land sites.

The Missive Process

The missive process unfolds when a prospective buyer submits an acceptable offer for a property to the seller's solicitor. Subsequently, the buyer's and seller's solicitors engage in a series of formal letters with the aim of establishing mutually agreeable terms, propelling the sale to the next stage. The process typically involves a minimum of two letters, though multiple exchanges may occur, especially in transactions with specific nuances or complexities.

The initial missive is the offer, outlining the conditions, rights, and obligations related to the sale. If the seller promptly accepts the offer and its conditions, a "straight acceptance" is issued, creating a legal contract based on the terms stipulated. However, more commonly, the seller's solicitor responds with a "qualified acceptance," agreeing to some terms, rejecting others, and introducing additional conditions.

Consideration of Offers

At the conclusion of the closing date, the seller reviews all formal offers received. Importantly, the seller is not bound to accept the highest offer and reserves the right to reject any offer that doesn't align with their preferences. Offers typically come with conditions, such as the proposed moving-in date, items included in the sale, and technical considerations based on the Home Report.

Negotiation may occur if the highest offer includes conditions that are unsatisfactory to the seller. If an agreement cannot be reached, the seller faces the decision of accepting a lower offer with favorable conditions or relisting the property for additional offers.

Specifics within Missives

Missives contain crucial elements such as:

  • Purchaser and seller details
  • Property address
  • Agreed purchase price
  • Mutually agreed date of entry
  • Sale conditions
  • Confirmation of vacant possession
  • Additional standard conditions in case either party pulls out of the sale.

Property Checks and Concluding Missives

Simultaneously with receiving acceptance from the seller's solicitor, the buyer's solicitor reviews title deeds, Land Certificates, legal reports, and conducts conveyancing searches. Property checks may include inspections to assess planning potential or clarify any defects or encumbrances.

Concluded missives represent a legally binding contract, as stated by the Law Society of Scotland. Some missives may include "suspensive" conditions that protect the buyer in specific scenarios, such as issues with the mortgage offer, property survey, or unforeseen legal proceedings.

Timeline for Concluding Missives

The duration to conclude missives varies based on transaction complexity. For straightforward transactions, involving a house or flat with few complications, missives could conclude within a few days. Complexities, such as title-related issues or commercial property sales, tend to extend the timeline.

Signing Missives and Withdrawal

Missives do not require signatures or witnessing, and signed letters do not constitute a legally binding contract. Once concluded, missives represent a binding agreement, and withdrawal could lead to a legally enforceable breach of contract. Either party refusing to cooperate may result in legal proceedings.

Mortgages and Missives

Before concluding missives, buyers typically secure a mortgage offer, and solicitors rarely finalise missives without a firm offer in place. New build home sales involve additional considerations, with developers often providing non-negotiable terms.

This comprehensive guide demystifies the intricate process of missives in the Scottish property selling journey, offering valuable insights for both buyers and sellers engaged in this legally significant stage.