Buying property in Ireland: What you need to know
Are you thinking of buying a property in Ireland? If so, wrapping your head around the process involved is integral to ensuring the transaction goes smoothly. For many people, buying a home or a new property will be one of the biggest financial decisions of their life. By informing yourself of all the need to know information before you embark on this journey, you put yourself in a position to make the transaction as pain free as possible. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the key things you need to know when buying property in Ireland. We will cover the importance of getting a property evaluated, the difference between “sale agreed” and “sold”, the different title situations that can arise, as well as some of the legal aspects involved in purchasing property. So, whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced investor, read on for more information!
Buying property in Ireland
If you’re thinking of buying property in Ireland, the first thing you need to do is figure out what your budget is so you can determine – (1) how much of a deposit you can afford, and, (2 ) your ability to afford the monthly mortgage repayments. This involves budgeting for all aspects of buying and owning a property such as mortgage costs, solicitor’s fees, insurance etc.
The amount you can borrow as a mortgage loan and how much you need to put down as a deposit is regulated by Central Bank lending limits. Currently in Ireland, the minimum amount you must put down as a deposit in order to receive a mortgage is 10% of the total price of the property you are looking to purchase. It’s important to get a mortgage pre-approval before you start looking at properties so that you know exactly how much you can spend.
Another important step in the process is to employ the help of an experienced and qualified conveyancing solicitor – a solicitor who specialises in the purchase and sale of property. There are many complicated legal processes and documentation involved in the purchase of any property – some of which will be discussed later – which can be very hard to navigate and understand without the aid of a professional. Working with a solicitor you trust will ensure the transaction is road mapped and carried out in as smoothly a manner as possible.
Surveying the property
The next step is to find a property that you like and that meets your needs and budget. Once you have found a property, it is important to get it evaluated by a professional before proceeding any further. While there are certain things that a seller must inform you on before a sale can be closed, there is no onus on the seller, their auctioneer or their solicitor to inform you of every aspect and detail of the property. There can be hidden problems with the property that you may not be aware of and an evaluation will help to identify any of these potential pitfalls.
Additionally, if you are still at the price negotiation stage, getting a property evaluated can give you an idea of what the property is actually worth. Going into any negotiation as informed as possible is always key to getting the best bang for your buck.
Any potential problems with the property, such as structural issues, title issues or dampness may be discovered. Once you have the evaluation, you can start negotiations with the seller, taking the findings of the survey into account when submitting your offer. You may also choose not to make an offer at this point.
Sale Agreed vs. Legal Sale
When you make an offer on a property and your offer is accepted, this is called a ‘sale agreed’ and is not legally binding. There is an agreement in principle to go through with the sale but either party can still back out at this point. To make it legal, you need to get to contract signing. When this is achieved both the buyer and the seller are legally bound to go through with the sale when they agree on the sale price of the property and both parties have signed the contract. The contract for sale will have been signed at this point with a deposit paid by the buyer. You can instruct your solicitor to start the legal process. The solicitor will investigate the title, planning , property taxes, local authority issues and other documents to make sure that everything is in order before proceeding with the sale. If you are borrowing your solicitor will be checking in with your lender and dealing with their requirements. They will also liaise with the seller’s solicitor to ensure that everything is going smoothly and all timelines are met. Once all the paperwork has been finalised, you will be ready to sign the contract and complete the purchase!
Something to be aware of when buying a home are the potential title situations that could exist regarding the property you are looking to purchase. In property law, the “title” refers to all of the property rights that belong to a proprietor of a specific property. Before purchasing a property, it is incredibly important to understand who actually owns the property and whether there are any outstanding debts or other rights on it.
This is another reason why it is so important to work with a solicitor when purchasing property. Your solicitor can complete checks regarding the title of your deserved property and advise you on anything of note. The language used in titles and deeds can often be very complicated and even archaic. Having an experienced solicitor who can explain these situations in layman’s terms can be invaluable.
If you’re buying a property with a mortgage, your lender will also do a search to make sure there are no problems with the title. There are two main types of title for properties in Ireland – freehold and leasehold. Freehold means that you own the property outright and are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the property. Leasehold means that you have a long-term lease on the property, typically for a period of 99 years, and are responsible for the upkeep of the property during that time. Additionally, generally speaking, with freehold possession you are said to own the building and land upon which the property is built, whereas with leasehold, you are only said to own the building. The type of title will be one of the factors you need to consider when purchasing a property.
When purchasing a home, it is incredibly important to ensure that there are no planning issues with the property. The best way to do this is by working with an experienced conveyancing solicitor who knows what to look for.
There are many things that solicitors would refer to as planning issues. Examples would be things like homes being built with additional buildings such as garages that never received planning permission, extension being built on a property that never received planning permission, velux windows being installed in the front of a house that never received planning permission, attic conversions that are being used habitually with no planning permission received.
If issues such as these go undiscovered prior to purchase, they can become incredibly costly and can lead to unwanted stress, hassle and even litigation. Once you become the owner of a property, all pre-existing planning issues become your liability and your responsibility to rectify. If it is subsequently discovered that planning permission was required for a specific build on a property but was not requested or granted, the planning authority may require the works to be reversed at the expense of the current owner.
Contract for sale
Once you have a contract for sale, there are several important things to do before completion such as getting buildings insurance, arranging your mortgage finance if you haven’t already done so and booking a surveyor to assess the value of the property. You will also need to provide proof of identity and address to your solicitor as well as any other required documentation. Completion usually takes place four to six weeks after signing the contract for sale. Once everything has been finalised, you will be ready to move into your new home!
If you are planning to sell your home to buy another one, you can no longer take out what was known as a ‘bridging loan’ which was a sum of money used to cover the gap between two transactions on a short-term basis. You must have the funds readily available to purchase a new property. This may mean that you must sell your home first and then rent for a period until you have the necessary funds to buy another property. Dealing with the simultaneous sale and purchase of properties at the same time can be very stressful. Working with a solicitor with years of experience in these transactions, such as Kevin O’Higgins Solicitors, can make a difficult and complex transaction much easier.
There are many things to bear in mind when buying property in Ireland but, if you do your research and ensure you are well informed, it can be a relatively smooth process. Seeking advice and working with experienced legal professionals, such as Kevin O’Higgins Solicitors, will be paramount to ensuring a successful transaction.
We hope you found this blog post informative. If you have any questions or would like to know more about buying property in Ireland, please get in touch now via our contact page.
Thank you for reading!