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Property | Legal Guides

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Find information on buying or selling a home here:

Talk to your solicitor

Buying or selling a home is probably one of the biggest financial transactions that you will make in your life.

The process can be complex, and proper preparation can help to avoid delays, stress, or financial loss.

The Law Society strongly recommends contacting a solicitor to give you legal advice as early as possible whether you are buying or selling a home. Your solicitor can advise you on important issues to consider when buying or selling the home.

Get a quote

Get a Quote is a pilot project to help members of the public get quotations from solicitors' firms for certain legal services.

Firms participating in the pilot will provide initial quotations for potential clients looking to buy or sell a property.

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, and any mistakes can have major consequences for you and your family. What may seem to be a simple straightforward purchase can go badly off the rails unless it is properly planned.

Therefore, it is important to involve your solicitor at the earliest possible moment, especially since the fee for conveyancing work usually includes preliminary advice. Here, you can learn what to expect from your solicitor and how to make the move as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

How your solicitor can help

Your solicitor can  advise you in relation to the following  matters:

  • Are there any problems with the title? Would you have any trouble in reselling? Remember that, if you purchase a  home at auction, you will be required to sign a binding contract there and then and pay a non-refundable deposit. Therefore, you should always consult your solicitor well in advance of the auction to allow time for the title to be checked in advance and to arrange necessary finances.
  • Will the loan come through without difficulty or delay? You should check with your bank that they have everything they need from you.
  • What happens if you cannot make your loan repayments?
  • Contents – what will be left in the property?
  • Do you know what rights your spouse, civil partner or co-purchaser will have over the property when purchased?
  • Should you purchase in your own name or in joint names with your spouse / civil partner or others? If so, should you purchase the property in shares or as joint owners?
  • Do you know what joint ownership involves in the event of your death?
  • Do you need a co-ownership agreement?
  • Estimating budget for the transaction - do you know the total cost of:
    1. Purchasing the home?
    2. Mortgaging the home?
    3. Government taxes (stamp duty and VAT on legal fees)?
    4. Land Registry fees?
    5. Legal fees?
    6. Other outlays such as search fees?
    7. Other expenses such as survey fees and necessary repairs?

Your solicitor will also look after the following:

  • Exchange of contracts.
  • Raising and negotiating any title queries with the seller’s solicitor.
  • Drafting closing documentation.
  • Title searches.
  • Giving an undertaking to your bank.
  • Ordering your loan cheque for closing.
  • Closing the sale.
  • Post-closing matters  stamping and registering  title to the property and sending title deeds to your bank.
  • Giving a certificate of title to your bank.

What you need to do

Matters that you, the client, will need to look after include:

  • If you are buying a new home, dealing with the builder on property details, extras, and arranging for a qualified surveyor / architect / engineer to do periodic inspections and the snag list.
  • If you are buying a second-hand home, having a structural survey carried out by a qualified surveyor / architect / engineer before signing any contracts.
  • Dealing directly with your bank on non-title matters, including:
    • Loan application / negotiation, getting loan approval in writing (which should be obtained before signing contracts).
    • Establishing your identity for the purpose of opening a loan account (under anti-money laundering legislation).
    • Property insurance, what value to insure for, what interests should be noted on the policy, how much it will cost.
    • Life assurance / mortgage protection insurance, what it covers, how much it will cost.
    • Direct debit mandate.

Note that your loan cheque will not issue or could be delayed until you have satisfied your bank on these non-title items

  • Getting balance of money to close (other than the loan cheque).
  • Getting money to pay legal fees and outlays on closing.
  • Pre-closing inspection of the property.
  • Arranging to have utilities transferred into your name when you complete the purchase.

Before seeing your solicitor:

  • Do not pay a deposit.
  • Do not sign anything for anybody.
  • Do not order work, furnishings or appliances until the purchase is completed.

Seeing your solicitor

When seeing your solicitor, please:

  • Phone for an appointment before arriving at the office.
  • Bring with you photographic evidence of your identity such as your passport or driving licence and a document with your permanent address, such as an electricity bill or bank statement sent within the last three months. This is needed under anti-money laundering regulations [link].
  • Bring with you any documents relating to the purchase, including:
    • Your state marriage certificate if you are married or civil partnership registration certificate if you are in a civil partnership.
    • Your separation agreement or judicial separation order if you are separated.
    • A decree of divorce if you are divorced, or decree of dissolution of civil partnership if you were in a civil partnership that has been dissolved.
    • Your PPS number and tax type (whether PAYE, income tax other than PAYE, VAT, etc).
  • Make a note of the questions you wish to ask your solicitor.If you need to cancel an appointment, please phone and tell your solicitor.

Selling a home is a large and complex transaction. What may seem to you to be a simple straightforward sale can go badly off the rails unless it is properly planned. 

Therefore, it is important to involve your solicitor at the earliest possible moment. If you take steps to sell your home before consulting your solicitor, you are risking delays and difficulties. You could, as a direct result, incur unnecessary expense, delay and worry.

How your solicitor can help

Your solicitor can advise you in relation to the following matters:

  • Pre-contract matters: location of title documents to your home, obtaining these from your bank on Accountable Trust Receipt (ATR) if necessary.
  • Having the contract for sale drafted in advance.
  • Agreement on a timeframe for the sale, such as auction date and closing date for giving vacant possession.
  • Review of title to identify any potential difficulties, such as alterations or extensions without either planning permission or consents under building regulations.
  • Whether you should accept an offer which is “subject to loan” and, if so, on what terms.
  • Identification of contents to be included or excluded from the sale.
  • Advice as to whether you can commit yourself to purchase another home before the sale of your own home is completed – and, if so, what financial and other complications are involved.
  • Estimating of the total cost and expenses which you will incur in the sale (including legal fees, VAT, other outlays), estimating budget for the transaction.

Your solicitor will also look after the following:

  • Exchange of contracts.
  • Drafting closing documentation.
  • Explaining title searches.
  • Closing the sale.
  • Post-closing matters - paying off any loan and obtaining a deed of release / discharge of loan from your bank.

What you need to do

Matters that you will need to look after include the following:

  • After you see your solicitor, you will need to deal directly with your auctioneer regarding placing your home for sale, the necessary Building Energy Rating (BER) certificate (for information see www.seai.ie), any contents included in the sale and negotiation of the terms of sale (including the auctioneer’s fees and advertising expenses).
  • Before closing, you will need to attend to closing any utilities accounts.

Before seeing your solicitor:

  • Do not take a deposit.
  • Do not sign anything for anybody.
  • Do not permit occupation by anyone until the sale is completed.

Seeing your solicitor

When seeing your solicitor, please:

  • Phone for an appointment before arriving at the office.
  • Bring with you photographic evidence of your identity such as your passport or driving licence and a document with your permanent address, such as an electricity bill or bank statement sent within the last three months. This is needed under anti-money laundering regulations [link].
  • Bring with you any documents relating to the sale, including:
    • Your title deeds if you have them.
    • Any papers or Vesting Certificate if you bought out your ground rent.
    • Details of any building work you did to your home including planning permission.
    • Your mortgage account number if you have a mortgage.
    • Your state marriage certificate if you are married or civil partnership  registration certificate if you are in a civil partnership.
    • Your separation agreement or judicial separation order if you are separated.
    • Your decree of divorce if you are divorced, or your decree of dissolution of civil partnership if you were in a civil partnership that has been dissolved.
    • Your PPS number and tax type (whether PAYE, income tax other than PAYE, VAT, etc).
    • Evidence that any Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) charge due for 2009 to 2013 has been paid. For information on this issue, see www.nppr.ie.
    • Your LPT property ID number for Local Property Tax (LPT) and evidence that any LPT due for 2013 onward has been paid. For information on this issue, see the Revenue website.
    • Evidence that the Household Charge due for 2012 was paid. For information on this issue, see www.householdcharge.ie.
    • If your home has a septic tank, bring a valid certificate of registration with Protect Our Water (to be given to the purchaser). For information on this issue, see www.protectourwater.ie.
    • If your home is on a group water scheme, up to date receipts for payment.
    • If your home is a flat/apartment or is in a managed development / property, details of the managing company and/or managing agents, and an up to date receipt for service charges and a copy of any house rules.
    • Results of any radon testing carried out on your home, together with details of any remedial work or other alterations carried out to reduce radon levels. For information on this issue, see www.epa.ie.
    • Make a note of the questions you wish to ask your solicitor.
    • If you need to cancel an appointment, please phone and tell your solicitor.