It is generally accepted that moving house when buying and or selling can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Here, I try to set out the usual life span of a purchase transaction, so that if you are involved in the process, it may now seem somewhat more understandable.
- You decide that you want to buy a house. Most people will search various websites and local auctioneers to find a property that they may like. A viewing of the property is arranged. Remember that the auctioneer is there to sell the property for the highest price and is not there to act for you.
- If you like the property you may decide to place an offer for it. Any such offer is completely on a “subject to contract” basis. This means that no one is bound to the transaction until signed contracts are exchanged. Some auctioneers may insist on seeing proof that you have the ability to buy the property before accepting an offer. Usually a copy of a letter or approval for a mortgage from a bank or a copy of a bank statement showing that you have the funds, will suffice.
- When you agree a price with an auctioneer, you then pay a booking deposit to the auctioneer. The amount of the booking deposit will usually depend on the price of the house, but normally will be in the region of €5,000 to €10,000. This is given to show your commitment to the transaction. The booking deposit is totally refundable if you, or the seller decide not to sign the Contracts, for any reason.
- Once contracts are signed, the deposit is no longer refundable and is used in part payment towards the purchase price. If you do not complete the purchase, having signed the Contract, you are liable to lose any deposit paid by you.
- Once the booking deposit is paid, the auctioneer issues a “sales letter”. This is sent to your solicitor and the solicitor for the seller , and is usually also sent to you and the seller directly. This ends the auctioneers formal role in the transaction, although most auctioneers will remain involved in arranging inspections of the property, liaising with solicitors and the parties involved to assist the matter to a completion.
- The most important thing then for a Purchaser to do once having agreed the price, is to organise the monies for the Purchase. For most people, this will mean getting a mortgage. You may already have received mortgage approval, but you now need a formal “Letter of Loan Offer” from your bank. This is the legal contract between you and your bank for the loan. Normally a copy will be sent to you, with a “Loan Pack” being sent to your solicitor. Banks differ in their processes but will not issue a “Letter of Loan Offer” until they have all of the necessary paperwork processed such as sight of payslips, bank statements, accounts etc.
- The bank will require you to take out Life Assurance for the amount and term of the loan and House Insurance for the amount of the rebuilding cost. That figure is based upon the figure set down by the bank’s valuer who will inspect the property solely from the viewpoint of checking its value. A valuer’s fee is normally around €140 and is payable directly by you to him/her. Banks will usually make arrangements for you to see their preferred Insurance/Assurance Companies. You are not obliged to use their preferences. Sometimes it can make matters easier to do it all under one roof, but often better prices can be obtained by shopping around.
- While you are arranging your finances, the solicitor for the seller will issue the Contracts to your solicitor, who should give you a copy for your records. Your solicitor will raise queries with regard to the title of the property (called “Pre-Contract Enquiries”) if anything is unclear in the Contracts.
- Most purchasers will arrange for an engineer to carry out a structural survey of the property. Your solicitor will normally furnish you or your engineer with copies of any documents relating to the planning permission for the house as well as the original map for the engineer to check.
- Assuming that all “Pre-Contract Enquiries” have been satisfactorily answered, and that the engineer’s report is positive, you then attend at the offices of your solicitor to sign the Contracts to buy the property and the mortgage documents for the bank. At this time, the Contract provides that you must pay 10% of the house price as a deposit. You can take into account the amount already paid to the auctioneer and only pay the balance to bring it up to the amount for 10%.
- Your solicitor will then send the signed Contracts, deposit and “Requisitions on Title” to the solicitor for the seller. “Requisitions on Title” are a book of questions regarding the property which are to be answered before the balance of the monies are handed over and set out the documents which your solicitor requires to ensure that you obtain ownership of the property. Your solicitor will also send off the necessary documentation to the bank to obtain your loan cheque.
- In almost all cases where there is a delay in obtaining the loan cheque from the bank, it is caused by one or all of the following (a) life assurance policy not in place (b) house insurance policy not in place or (c) direct debit mandate for the loan repayments not signed.
- When the loan cheque does issue, most banks now transfer funds electronically to your solicitor’s client account. You need to ensure that your solicitor has sufficient funds from you to cover any balance due between the price of the house and the amount of the loan. Your solicitor will also require to be put in funds to cover payments for stamp duty, registration fees, search fees and his/her own fee before completing the transaction.
- On the “completion date” your solicitor will arrange for the balance of funds to be paid to the solicitor for the seller, having first carried out searches to ensure that nothing onerous has cropped up on the title in the meantime and that the seller is still entitled to sell the property. All that being fine, the keys will be handed to your solicitor or released via the auctioneer. There is usually nothing for a Purchaser to do on the completion date other than to collect the keys.
- Once completed, your solicitor will require you to sign the deed. Then he/she will proceed to pay the stamp duty to the Revenue Commissioners, register the deed and mortgage with the Property Registration Authority (Land Registry) and when all is finished send the deeds to the bank if you have a mortgage or store them for you otherwise.
- The usual length of time for a transaction to take from “sale agreed” to completion is 6-8 weeks but this can often vary for many reasons specific to the people involved or the property.
This is a general time line for a purchaser and I hope that it gives you some understanding of what is involved and that it helps you know where you are if you are involved in buying a house.