A. Steps to Buying a House
Budget - It is important at this stage to carefully evaluate all costs involved in buying a home, e.g. Mortgage costs, Legal costs, Registration of Deeds, Stamp Duty etc.
Mortgage - A Mortgage is a long term loan secured against the property you buy. There are different types of Mortgages and different Mortgage Providers. It is important that you get Mortgage Approval in principle before you start to look for a property. When you find a property you like, you must get formal Mortgage Approval before you sign the Contract for Sale. If you sign a Contract for Sale and subsequently don't get Mortgage Approval, you will lose you 10% deposit and there may be other penalties.
Booking Deposit - The legal process to buying your property generally starts when the Estate Agent receives your booking deposit. This booking deposit simply holds the property for you, and should be fully refundable if you decide not to proceed with the purchase.
Issue of Contracts - The Seller will then instruct his Solicitor to issue Contracts for Sale of the house to your Solicitors. Before signing Contracts, it is very important that you are fully committed to buying the house. Therefore, you should ensure that:-
1. The money necessary to buy the house is available to you. This means that you should have a written letter of Loan Offer from the Bank outlining the terms and conditions upon which they are prepared to loan the money to you.
2. You have the house surveyed to ensure that the property does not suffer from any structural defects. Your Surveyor should also carry out a Planning Search in the offices of the Local Authority to ensure that the house is fully compliant with Planning Permission and Building Regulations. We would also recommend that you would ask your Surveyor to investigate if there are any developments planned for the area etc., e.g. incinerators, dumps, etc.
3. We, as your Solicitors, will then examine the Contracts and supporting title documents to ensure that the house that you are buying has good marketable title. This will involve us raising pre-contract enquiries with the Sellers solicitors. This may take on average 2 -3 weeks depending on the complexity of the title documents.
B. Signing of Contracts
Once all of the above has been dealt with, signed Contracts are returned to the Sellers Solicitor together with the balance of the purchase deposit (typically, this is 10% of the overall purchase price, less the amount of the booking deposit you have already paid). The Sellers will then sign the Contract bringing into existence a binding Contract. It is vital that you keep in touch with your Mortgage Provider at all stages throughout the process. The Mortgage Provider will set down various requirements which you must complete before you can draw down the mortgage monies. These requirements typically include :
• A Life Policy (which may include undertaking a medical examination)
• Building Insurance cover for the house
• Valuation of the house
• Completing all relevant mortgage documentation, bank mandates etc.
It is vitally important that all those documents are in place as soon as possible as without them, the Bank will not release your purchase monies. The Contracts will contain a closing date which is the date that has been agreed between the Purchaser and the Seller. This is the date that the balance of purchase monies are exchanged for the title documents and the keys of the house. If it is a case that you are not ready to buy the house on the agreed closing date, the Seller will be entitled to charge you a penalty interest under the terms of the Contract.
C. Completing the Purchase
On the closing date, we, as your Solicitors would meet the Solicitors for the Sellers. We will make searches in the Judgments Office, Bankruptcy Office, Companies Office and Land Registry and Registry of Deeds to ensure that there are no burdens, judgments or lis pendens registered against the property. We give them the balance of purchase monies and they, in turn, give us the title documents. Generally, the keys to the house are held by the Auctioneer and once we confirm to you that all title documents are in order and that the house has been bought, you can call to the Auctioneer to collect the keys. The purchase transaction can take on average 6-8 weeks from time Contracts are issued to completion, but this may vary on a case to case basis.
D. After Completing the Purchase
Once a sale is completed, it will be necessary to present your Deeds for stamping at the Revenue Commissioners. As the law currently stands, First Time Purchasers do not pay any Stamp Duty. Once we are in receipt of your Stamp Duty Certificate, we will then present your Deeds and Mortgage Deeds to be registered with either the Registry of Deeds or the Land Registry. The Property Registration Authority is responsible for both systems of registration. Once registration has been finalised, the process will be complete and you are the new Registered Owner of your new home.
If you have obtained a Mortgage to purchase your property, we will then schedule your title documentation and return to your Mortgage Provider for safe keeping until your Mortgage has been repaid.
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