How exactly do I buy my future home?

November 2012

Question

My husband and I moved to Ireland from Poland 10 years ago and have saved enough to buy an apartment. We have been renting/sharing for many years but have now found an apartment we like and think we can afford. We want to make an offer but are not familiar with the process of buying in Ireland. Can you please explain how it should work, what we must be careful about and what else we should know?

Answer

Congratulations on finding a property you like. You mentioned that you have saved enough money to buy the apartment but do not say whether you are borrowing part of the money from a bank to fund (or part-fund) the purchase. If you are borrowing part of the price, the first step is to engage with a bank or mortgage broker to seek mortgage approval. On receipt of approval you are in a position to put an offer on the property. The introduction of the property price register () allows you to do price comparisons for similar properties and to determine what you feel the property is worth, based on recent sales. It might also be time to determine what solicitor you might use if you are successful with your bid.

When putting an offer to the estate agent you should tell them if you are a cash buyer (if you are not borrowing any money) or mortgage-approved (if borrowing from the bank). If it is your first home purchase, let them know that.

Once you have agreed a price with the agent you will pay a booking deposit, which is fully refundable until you have signed contracts, of about 2 per cent to 3 per cent of the purchase price. The acceptance of your offer will be subject to your solicitor perusing the contract and title and inspection of the property by a structural surveyor.

The next step will be to tell your bank or mortgage broker that you have agreed a sale and they will have a valuation done on the property to ensure it is suitable for a mortgage. If you have your savings in a deposit account you might need to check the notice period required to withdraw the money.

On completion of due diligence by your solicitor, they will invite you to sign the contract and you will have to pay the balance of 10 per cent, taking into account that you have already paid a deposit to the estate agent. The contract will then be counter signed by the vendor and there is then a binding sale in place. A date for closing the sale of the property will be agreed between your solicitor and the vendor’s solicitor. Before closing the sale it is advisable to do a pre-closing inspection and to ensure all utilities have been put into your name.

Rowena Quinn is a chartered surveyor