Buying a home

Buying a home

Buying a house is one of the most important purchases you will make during your lifetime. Therefore it is important that you are properly advised and kept fully informed at each stage of the process.

Going “Sale Agreed”

Once you have found the home of your dreams and negotiated the right price for you the next stage is to pay the booking deposit in order to secure the property from being sold to someone else while the legal work is underway. This is paid directly to the Auctioneer and is anything up to 5% of the purchase price. This deposit is fully refundable up to the point that you sign the contracts. On paying the booking deposit the Auctioneer will send out a letter called an “Advice Note” to both the vendor’s and purchaser’s solicitors. The Advice Note sets out the main details of the transaction and includes the vendor’s and purchaser’s full name, the address of the property which is the subject of the transaction, the sale price which has been agreed and the vendor’s and purchaser’s solicitors contact details. If contents are included in the sale the Advice Note should set out the list of contents to be included in the sale and their value. The property at this point is deemed to be “Sale Agreed”.

Structural Survey for Second-hand Property

A structural survey is not normally necessary for newly built properties as they usually come with a Home Bond warranty or Premier Guarantee. If however you are purchasing a second hand property it is strongly advisable that you arrange for a qualified engineer or architect to conduct a survey of the property to ensure that the property is structurally sound and also to confirm that the boundaries of the property correspond with the map of the property. The person undertaking the survey should also check whether there have been any extensions or alterations carried out to the property. This is a matter which can often cause grave difficulty in a transaction. If any structural change has been carried out to the property no matter how minor it will at the very least require an Architect’s certificate stating that it is exempt from planning permission and is in compliance with building regulations. This certificate should be retained with the title deeds for all future transactions.

Obtaining Finance

If you are obtaining a mortgage it is important that as soon as you have paid a booking deposit, you immediately secure finance for the transaction by contacting a mortgage broker or your bank. There are a number of brokers working in the area who are in a position to negotiate with a number of banks on your behalf. Alternatively if you have a good relationship with your bank they may be in a position to offer you loan approval. This stage of the process can be very time consuming and should be commenced as soon as possible.

Once your loan approval is secured give the mortgage broker or bank your solicitor’s contact details. The bank will then arrange to issue the loan pack to them. This loan pack will include all the documents you need to sign to obtain a mortgage on the property you are purchasing. The bank will also forward a copy of the loan offer to you for your records. You should check through the details on the loan offer to ensure that the details contained therein are correct. In particular the amount of finance offered, the address of the property you are purchasing and the interest rate stated therein.

Signing of the Contract

The vendor’s solicitor will prepare the first draft of the contract and forward it with the title documents to the purchaser’s solicitor. The purchaser’s solicitor will review same and raise relevant queries on the title and negotiate any necessary adjustments to the draft contract.  When all the queries have been adequately dealt with the contract is then signed by the purchaser in duplicate and the contract deposit is paid.  The contract deposit is normally 10% of the purchase price less whatever amount was already paid to the Auctioneer as a booking deposit. The mortgage documents are also signed by the purchaser simultaneously and the various documents are returned to the bank thereby accepting the loan offer.

The contract in duplicate is then returned to the vendor’s solicitor together with the contract deposit, for signing by the vendor. Once signed one copy of the contract is returned to the purchaser’s solicitor. At that stage a binding contract is in place and neither party can unilaterally withdraw from the transaction without their being unpleasant consequences. A closing date is agreed at this stage with is usually 4 weeks from the date that the contract is signed by the vendor.

The purchaser’s solicitor then issues what are known as Requisitions on Title.  This is essentially a booklet of queries about the legal background and title to the property which must be completed by the vendor with the assistance of their solicitor.  The replies to these queries are then reviewed by the purchaser’s solicitor to confirm that all is in order.

Snag List

If you are purchasing a new home it is at this stage that a “Snag List” should be carried out to ensure that the property complies with the specifications as furnished. If there is any items which are not in order they should be written down and the list furnished to the vendor’s solicitor in order that same can be remedied in advance of completion.

Drawdown of Loan Cheque

As the closing date looms it is important to ensure that the banks requirements as stated in the loan offer have been met. Often it is the non-legal security items which cause delays in loan cheques issuing. These include life cover, completion of the direct debit mandate, buildings insurance and the property valuation report.

Near the completion date the loan funds are drawn down from the bank and the balance of the purchase price is paid to the vendor’s solicitor. Investigations known as Searches are then carried out against the property and the vendor and any issue arising must be satisfactorily explained by the vendor’s solicitor in advance of completion.  The purchaser should arrange to attend at their solicitor’s office to sign the documents in order that their title to the property can be registered.  Upon completion the vendor’s solicitors will contact the Auctioneer to authorise release of the keys of the property to the purchaser.

Post-Closing Requirements

When the documents have been signed the transfer deed is submitted to the Revenue Commissioners for assessment of stamp duty. A certificate issues from the Revenue Commissioners and the title documents are lodged for registration. It can often take a number of months for title to be registered. On completion of registration the title deeds of the property are lodged with the bank who gave the finance to purchase the property and they will be held by them until the mortgage is paid off in full.

This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by Hammond Good, Solicitors for any action taken in reliance on the information contained therein. Any and all information is subject to change. For further information on the subject, please contact the author, Joyce A. Good Hammond, at