What to do when buying a house

What to do when buying a house

Understanding the process of buying a house can be daunting for first-time buyers. Solicitor John Whelan explains what’s involved.

For many people, buying their first house will be the largest transaction they have ever made. It can be a daunting prospect, so it is a good idea to engage a solicitor at the outset. This ensures you have someone on hand who can guide you through the process and help everything run smoothly.

Set out below are some tips to help you understand the basics of what buying a house involves.

  1. Budget

The first priority is working out how much you can afford to spend. While it is natural to focus on the purchase price of a property, this is not the only cost you need to think about. Getting a survey, legal and search fees, insurance, stamp duty — all need to be taken into account when working out your budget. If you will need to take out a mortgage, it is a good idea to obtain ‘approval in principle’ before starting to look for properties. This lets you know how much your lender is willing to advance and will help you to be realistic when deciding what you can afford.

  1. Choosing a Property

Once you know your budget, the next step finding suitable, available properties within your price range.  The Residential Property Price Register will give you a good idea of what properties in your areas of interest are selling for. Most property searches today start on the popular property websites. Local estate agents and auctioneers are also worth checking out.

  1. Getting a Survey

If and when you find a property you are interested in purchasing, it is important to get a survey done. This will identify any potential problems that could incur costs or lead to other difficulties down the road. If the survey uncovers defects, you may be able to negotiate to have them rectified or get the sale price reduced.

Properties are usually sold either by private treaty or by public auction. In a private treaty sale, you agree the price with the seller or estate agent and pay a booking deposit. You then have time to get a survey done before moving on to exchange contracts.

In a public auction, you need to have your finance in place and get your survey done before the auction. In addition, your solicitor will need to run certain checks ahead of the sale. This is because, if your bid for the property succeeds at the auction, you will then pay a deposit and sign a contract for sale straight away.

  1. Contracts

There are usually two contract signings. The first— the contract for sale— is where you commit to buying the property and pay a deposit. The second signing—closing the sale—is when you pay over the balance of the purchase price. An important point to keep in mind is that if you withdraw from the sale after signing the contract for sale, you may forfeit your deposit.

Between the first and second signings, your solicitor raises various questions on your behalf with the seller and checks to ensure there are no difficulties with the property such as unpaid mortgages or problems with the deeds. Your Solicitor then arranges to get your funds in order so as to be prepared for the closing of the sale.

Your solicitor prepares a Deed of Conveyance which is given to the seller’s solicitor for approval. If everything is in order, your mortgage can be drawn down and the balance of the purchase price paid to the seller. You will then get the keys for your new house.

  1. Stamp Duty & Deeds

Any stamp duty due on the purchase of your house will need to be paid to the Revenue Commissioners when the sale completes. Your solicitor will arrange this payment. Also, after the sale completes, the deeds to the property will need to be finalised and registered. Again, your solicitor will guide you through this process.


How we can help

If you are contemplating buying a house, John Whelan, Solicitor in Whelan Law, in Cashel would be delighted to answer your questions and handle the transaction on your behalf. To discuss your plans and find out more about our property services, please get in touch.