With asking prices often half that found in Edinburgh, Scotlands capital city, little wonder the bargain houses for sale in Livingston and the other towns and villages in West Lothian and nearby regions have to offer the hard-pressed property buyer are such eye-openers! And Edinburgh is barely a handful of miles away, too, making it an ideal location for the commuter.

However, the initial euphoria is apt to disappear fairly quickly given the practicalities involved in acquiring a home in Scotland, especially if the purchaser is a first-time buyer or hails from elsewhere in the UK. The house-buying process has a number of differences when compared to other parts of Great Britain.

The good news is there is plenty of help available, not least because whether buying or selling a home, a solicitor is usually involved early on in the process. However, before the would-be first-time buyer even thinks about a property, it is worth taking a moment to think about affordability.

Buying a home is the largest financial commitment most people will ever make in their lives. But can you afford it? Remember, were talking years here, the best part of your working life, much of it maybe scrimping and scraping the monthly mortgage repayment together.

Second point to consider is the amount of cash youll probably have to raise up front before a bank or building society will even begin to look at you. Conditions are nothing like what they once were back in the good old days of 100% mortgages.

Then youll need to think about additional costs, such as survey and valuation fees, if required by your lender, mortgage fees if using a mortgage broker, solicitors fees, stamp duty land tax, removal costs and costs for settling gas and electricity bills, for example. There really is a lot to think about before taking the next step.

The next step or steps is to find a property, if youve not already done so (via an estate agent, property departments of solicitors, newspapers, or building company), and a solicitor to act on your behalf. The solicitor will contact the sellers solicitor with a view to “noting interest” in the property. Noting interest is a convention only, and binding on neither you, the buyer, or the seller. It shows serious intent by the buyer. If there is more than one buyer interested in the property, the seller normally sets a closing date for all offers. The seller is not bound to accept the highest offer.

Any offer will contain at the very least the purchase price and the date of entry and probably other conditions, too. The seller may accept the offer without qualification – highly unlikely – or accept it with qualifications, perhaps adding further conditions. This offer and counter-offer, known as the “missives”, is conducted between solicitors by means of letters.

There are several points to note. The loose equivalent of freehold in Scotland is called heritable title. There are no exchange of contracts or requirement for a deposit. The full purchase price will be due at the conclusion of the missives, when all points have been ironed out. At this stage, a binding contract is in place.

Please note, too, this article is the briefest of outlines and does not constitute any form of legal advice. For more information, please consult a solicitor. The houses for sale in Livingston and other towns in Scotland have a lot to offer and are only the first step!