1. Paying booking deposit

If the property is being sold by private treaty (rather than a public auction), it will ordinarily be listed with an estate agent by the seller. Once the seller is happy with an offer from a prospective purchaser, that purchaser will be asked to pay a refundable booking deposit (typically 3-5% of the purchase price) to the estate agent and the property goes sale agreed.

It is often at this stage that the purchaser will arrange for a formal survey to be carried out of the property (if the property is a second hand property). If the property is a new build and is not yet completed, there would not be a survey carried out at this time, but the purchaser would be recommended to arrange snagging by their surveyor when the house is completed to flag up any defects that need to be rectified before completing the purchase.

  1. Issuance of Contract

The seller’s solicitor will prepare the contract based on their review of the title documents for the property and furnish them to the purchaser’s solicitor for review. The seller’s solicitor is only able to prepare that contract after they have received the title documents. If the property is subject to a mortgage, the title deeds will be held by the seller’s bank. It can often take up to two-three weeks to obtain the title deeds from the bank, so the sooner they are requested, the sooner the contract can be prepared.

If the property is a new build, the contract will also be accompanied by a building agreement which sets out the specifications by which the house will be constructed and the terms that such building work will be carried out.

  1. Pre-contract queries

Often the purchaser’s solicitor will have pre-contract queries they want answered following their review of the contract and copy title documents. Only when the purchaser’s solicitor is satisfied with the responses to those queries, will they be in a position to recommend that the purchaser sign the contract.

  1. Signing the contract

When the purchaser’s solicitor is satisfied with the pre-contract query responses, they will arrange for the purchaser to attend their office to sign the contract. At this stage, a non-refundable deposit (bringing the total deposit amount with the booking deposit, up to 10% of the purchase price) will be payable by the purchaser to the seller’s solicitor. Once the seller returns the contract signed by them to the purchaser, the purchaser’s deposit is no longer refundable if the seller is ready and able to complete the sale in accordance with the terms of the contract.

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  1. Post Contract Period

The purchaser’s solicitor will prepare the draft transfer deed at this time for the seller’s solicitor to review and the purchaser’s solicitor will also advise the seller’s solicitor of their completion requirements if those requirements have not been agreed as part of the contract. If the purchaser is obtaining a mortgage, they will need to satisfy their bank’s conditions to drawdown during this period (such as ensuring direct debits are executed, property insurance is in place, mortgage protection is in place) and submit a formal drawdown request. Typically, the bank would need circa 10 days or so notice of a drawdown to run their final checks on the file and put the request in their queue for the release of funds.

If the purchaser is availing of the help to buy scheme, they will need to formally submit their application to the Revenue after the contract is signed and those help to buy funds will then be released to the builder assuming the application is in order.

If the house being purchased is a new build, there may be a significant gap between signing the contract (and building agreement) and actual closing depending on the stage that the construction is at. Once the house is ready for snagging, it is at this stage that a purchaser would be advised to have a “snagger” inspect the property to ensure that it has been suitably completed.

  1. Closing of Sale

The seller will attend their solicitor’s office to sign the transfer deed and various other ancillary documents. These documents will often then be delivered to the purchaser’s solicitor for review and the purchaser will arrange for payment of the balance of the purchase monies to the seller’s solicitor. Only when all parties are satisfied with the title documents delivered, the balance of purchase monies have been paid and any searches against the seller have been satisfactorily answered, will the sale then close. At this time, the keys will be handed over to the purchaser.

  1. Post Sale – Seller

If the seller had a mortgage, their solicitor will arrange for redemption of that mortgage and furnish proof to the purchaser’s solicitor that such mortgage has been released. The balance of any monies received less any agreed costs and outlay will then be paid over to the purchaser.

  1. Post Sale – Purchaser

The purchaser’s solicitor will arrange for the stamping of the transfer deed and the registration of purchaser’s ownership of the property. If the purchaser was buying with the assistance of a mortgage, they will also arrange for the registration of the mortgage and then deliver the title deeds to that bank for safe keeping.