Introduction to buying a home in Scotland

Have you been saving up to buy your first home? Getting onto the property ladder is incredibly exciting and although the process can be a little complicated, whilst taking the best part of three months to complete, it's something you'll want to do sooner rather than later.

Of course, if you're thinking about buying in the near future, you'll want to ensure it's the right decision both financially and emotionally. Are you ready to commit yourself to a mortgage, whether alone or with your other half? Not only should you consider the initial costs, but also the ongoing expenses of maintaining your new home - those you're unlikely to factor in when renting.

However, if you've been considering your first home for a while now, we've created a guide to help you with every step. Buying doesn't have to be difficult or stressful, so long as you're well prepared.

The initial steps of buying your first home

Before you even start to think about viewing properties or speaking to solicitors, it's important to ensure you're ready to get on the property ladder. To do this, you'll need to save a suitable deposit to put down on the house, whilst thinking about your mortgage and repayments that are affordable.

  • Save a deposit

In order to work out which properties you'll be viewing and potentially making an offer for, you'll need a deposit. This will be saved up over a number of years and equates to thousands of pounds. As house prices are climbing though, the length of time it'll take to save a suitable amount also increases. For instance, it'll be 12 years before the average young family can save a deposit worth 20%.

  • Understanding your mortgage

As a first-time buyer you'll more than likely need to arrange a mortgage to finance your property investment. That is, unless you're in the very rare but fortunate circumstance of being able to buy outright. Mortgages are a loan from your bank or building society and typically stretch up to 40 years in length.

Both deposits and mortgages will be discussed in further detail in the second section of this resource. Please find more information in chapter two.

Finding the right property & organising viewings

When you first start looking for properties, you may well be swamped by the sheer number of options at your disposal. A quick look online and you'll find dozens, hundreds and even thousands of potential homes in your area.

However, not all of these will meet your needs. What you want to find is the diamond in the rough - the house you will be able to call a home.

When looking at properties online or in your local estate agents, consider the following:

Number of bedrooms

Whilst you may love to have a three-bedroomed home, this could mean you'll be stretching your budget - leaving you with less disposable income for those other things in life. If you only need two bedrooms, why stretch to three unless it's feasible? You could easily opt for a sofa bed if you expect guests to be staying on regular occasions.

Property type

Likewise, when buying your first home it's likely to be a little adventurous to expect a detached property. Don't distance yourself from terraced houses, even if you'd rather a semi-detached home. Two thirds of homebuyers say they've compromised to get on the ladder and 89% were satisfied by their decision. Also consider both new and old properties when you're searching for a new home. Always keep an eye on the market and make sure you're not spending more on what's intended a bargain older property, when instead a new build could be cheaper. Of course, your personal tastes would come into play throughout the buying decision.


Some areas are notoriously more expensive than others for various reasons - just don't fall into the trap of thinking a cheaper area isn't going to be suitable to live in. Instead, think about where you work, the schools, public transport, local amenities in the area and the price bracket. There are nicer parts in cheaper regions, so you may well be able to grab a bargain you'll love.

Where should I look?

Your first port of call should be the Internet. Why? Because it's easily accessible, free, and has everything you'll likely need all in one place. s1homes offer property listings across Scotland and you can filter your options or perform a countrywide search to find the house of your dreams.

After your initial research it's worth speaking to a few estate agents. They'll put you on their books and start letting you know when a new property comes on the market that meet your specs. It's also a good idea to drive round some of the areas you're considering - in order to get a better idea of what the region's really like in the light of day.

How should I arrange a viewing?

Once you've found a property you like the look of, it's time to arrange a viewing. Contact the estate agent the property is listed with and book a viewing at an appropriate time - preferably during the day so you can see everything. It's also worth taking a friend or family member with an eye for detail.

We'd also advise bringing a camera on the first viewing, so you can get your own snapshots and better remember the property once you've left - if you have a mobile phone to hand, this will be perfectly fine to use. You'll be surprised how many people can't remember certain parts of the house just a few hours later.

If you're meeting the seller, try to build a rapport early - asking plenty of questions and showing your general enthusiasm towards the property. You should even compliment them on the decor.

If you love the property, consider going back at different times of the day. You'll be able to check out the neighbourhood and find out what parking's like.