Residential Property Transactions

The purchase and sale of properties continues to be, for most people, the single biggest financial transaction that they will enter into. It is important that clients have the reassurance of a committed team, whose primary aim is to ensure that the client receives independent and practical advice while, at the same time, bringing the transaction to a conclusion in line with the clients’ expectations. The vast majority of our property business is either repeat business or referrals from our existing satisfied clients.

First Time Buyers

Buying a home is likely to be the single biggest purchase made by any individual and in the case of a first purchase the most important. It is vital that the property turns out to be both a suitable home and a wise investment.

Most first time buyers have little idea of the steps involved, the details to be considered or the cost to be incurred in purchasing their first home.Dillon Solicitors hope that this commentary provides most of the answers to the questions that you, as a first time purchaser, are likely to ask.

Our guide follows the main steps involved in buying your first home:

Planning your purchase

The first step is to decide on the type of house you want, location and, most importantly, the price you can afford to pay. You should check nearby facilities such as shops, transport, schools etc.

You also need to consider the surrounding environment to ascertain road plans, green belts and other developments. This can be gleaned from a visit to the local Planning Office.

Once you start to look at houses it is important to make a list of your particular requirements. The following are some factors which should be considered:

  • Is the house south/west facing?
  • Any problems with neighbours?
  • What are the local transport services like e.g. Bus, Luas, Dart
  • Are there good schools nearby?
  • What amenities are in the area e.g. shops, parks, etc
  • Have you asked the Gardaí whether there are problems with crime in the area?
  • Are there major traffic delays in the route to work? It is advisable to do a test run.
  • Has your auctioneer told you what is included in the purchase? Eg. carpets, curtains, garden shed, light fittings etc…
  • If you are purchasing a second hand house you should engage a suitably qualified Architect/Engineer to carry out a structural survey of your property and give a written report.
  • In the case of a new property check the measurements on the plans with the actual house you are buying.
  • Have you organised your loan? If not, contact us. We can help you thanks to our special arrangements with various lending institutions.
  • Have you secured your loan approval in writing and ensured that the terms of your life cover have been accepted by your Life Assurance Co. before you sign contracts?
  • Are there any man-holes or ESB pillars in either the front or back gardens?
  • If you are buying an apartment/duplex property have you checked out whether the management company is well run and how much the service charge is? We can do this for you.
  • Have you visited the local authority to carry out a planning search on the property?
  • Have there been any extensions carried out on the property? If so, make sure to tell us so that we can check if the appropriate planning and building regulations have been complied with.
  • Make sure that the boundaries of the property are easily identifiable and clearly marked. How do these boundaries compare to those that are on a copy of the deed map.
  • Before you move in, make sure you have contacted all the utility companies to make sure you are connected to all the necessary services.
  • In the case of a new house, you will need to ensure that the builder is registered with the Homebond or Premier Guarantee Scheme and that the estate is properly bonded so that you can be sure that all estate services will be completed.

Financing your new home

In the vast majority of cases it will be necessary to borrow to buy your house and it is advisable to discuss your requirements as soon as possible. Some financial institutions will give you preliminary approval even before you have decided on a particular house. The following is a short list of details which will need to be addressed at the outset:You will need to supply details of your income and any savings to your lending institution. If the loan application is in joint names you should also furnish details of your partners’ salary.

  • There are various costs which need to be accounted for and we have inserted a useful estimate sheet which will give you an idea of the overall cost of your purchase so that you will know how much to apply for.
  • Most lending institutions offer special new customer/1st time buyer discounts for the first year. However, be wary of low fixed rates as the institutions who offer discounted fixed rates often charge higher variable rates which will apply when you take out a mortgage.
  • You will need to carefully consider the various options available to you. In particular, you will need to decide whether to opt for a variable of fixed rate. You should take independent mortgage advice before you make a final decision as to which product you choose.
  • Most loan offers are made subject to a number of conditions. We can advise you of the implications of these conditions.
  • All lending institutions will require us, the purchasers solicitors, to act for them in relation to your loan. This helps to reduce your bill for legal fees as we carry out this work on behalf of the lending institution at no additional cost to you.

Organising your survey

When you are buying a new or second hand house we strongly advise that you have a structural survey carried out. In the case of a new house you should arrange for your surveyor to inspect the house at various stages of construction and finally, for the purposes of compiling a snag list, when it has been completed. We can recommend an architect/surveyor to carry out the inspection if you wish.

You should note that the surveyor which the building society/lending institution appoints will only carry out a valuation of the property and not a structural survey or snag list.

Insurance

Insurance is designed to protect you against certain risks, which affect your house. There are two main risks:

Death of the borrower

To cater for this risk your lending institution will require you to take out a life policy which will provide sufficient funds to pay off the loan in the event of a death. With an endowment mortgage there is automatic cover on the life of the borrower.

Fire and other perils

You must also take out a policy of insurance against fire and other usual insurable risks with an insurance company of repute. It is important to take out insurance cover on both the buildings and the contents.

The legal formalities

Once you have decided on a house you will usually be required to pay a booking deposit. We would advise that this deposit be paid through our office so that we can make it clear to the Auctioneers acting for the builder/vendor that this does not bind you in any way and that you are free to change your mind or withdraw from the purchase if you do not get loan approval.

The builders’/vendors’ solicitors will then send contracts and copies of the title documents to us. It is our job to check all title documents carefully to make sure that you will be getting a good title to your property.

We will also carry out planning and other searches to see if there are any charges affecting the property and, if so, we will ensure that the property is released from such charge(s) when you pay the balance of the deposit on signing of contacts. It is normal that at the signing of contracts you will have paid 10% of the total purchase price. If you fail to complete the purchase after signing unconditional contracts you may risk losing the deposit and you may also be liable for any loss suffered by the builder/vendor.

During the period between execution of contracts and completion we will:

  • send a detailed questionnaire to the builders’ solicitors raising questions on title and specifying the documentation we require to complete the purchase.
  • prepare the final legal and mortgage documents and any necessary statutory declarations for you to sign.
  • make sure your life assurance and fire insurance policies are in place.
  • send out a detailed statement to you setting out the balance monies due on completion.
  • make final searches against the vendor and the property.

We will go to the builders’/vendors’ solicitors offices and exchange the balance monies due for the title deeds and keys. You now own your own home!

Once the sale has been completed we still have some work to do! Your mortgage documents have to be stamped and your purchase and mortgage deeds sent for registration. When the registration process has been completed we will then send the title documents to your lending institution which will hold them as security until the loan has been repaid in full.

Nearing completion: the last minute checklist

  • Make sure all the conditions of your loan approval have been complied with. Keep in regular contact with your bank/broker.
  • Check with us how much you will need to complete the transaction. Remember, you will need to furnish us with a bank draft for any balance due.
  • Remember to send a change of address note to your post office to forward all mail to your new address.
  • Ensure that all the necessary services such as electricity, gas and water are connected.
  • When you move into your new home ring in the meter readings to the ESB/Bórd Gais immediately.
  • Check with Eircom to see if you can take your old number to your new home.
  • Remember to advise us if there is an alarm so that we can obtain the alarm code for you.
  • Change the locks! It might be advisable to change all locks as you never know who may have a set of keys

Adding up the cost

There are significant costs involved in buying a house, apart from the price, which need to be accounted for when deciding what you can afford. They fall into the following areas:

  • Architects fees for structural survey/snag list.
  • Stamp Duty and registration fees.
  • Legal Fees & Outlay.
  • Valuation fee for mortgage (if it is a new house)

We can provide an indication of all costs on request. Please e-mail us at info@dillon.ie for an estimate.

Making your will

As the proud owner of your new home, we strongly recommend that you consider making a will. We will take your instructions and draft a suitable Will for you. If you wish we can arrange to have the will kept safely in our Wills safe.

Your solicitor

We hope that you have found this guide to be both helpful and informative. More than anything else, it demonstrates the importance of obtaining expert independent advice before making any decisions relating to your purchase.

If you require advice in relation to any of the services listed above or if you wish to receive copies of our client newsletters and / or our business ezines please contact us on 01-2960666 or at info@dillon.ie.