Property for sale

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Buying property

What to buy
Where to buy
How much can you afford?
Loan approval
Finding a property
Your solicitor

Part two

Viewing
Making an offer
The survey
The mortgage offer
Exchanging contracts
Completion

Finding a property

Making an offer

Great, you've found a suitable property. Now it's time to make an offer. The agent will probably tell you what is the highest offer they have already but can you believe it? Probably, because if they tell you they have an offer when they don't, they risk scaring you off and losing a sale, but be careful!

Remember the auctioneer is working for the vendor and no matter how much he/she seems to be on your side his/her main concern is to make a sale and to get the best price for the client.

Be clear about what your offer really is. If it is subject to conditions, say so. If your offer is for the property, including carpets and curtains, say so. Otherwise you may find that you are asked to pay an additional sum for these later if you want them.

Usually your offer will be subject to contract and survey. This means that if your survey turns up a problem which you didn't know about you can revise or withdraw your offer.

In any case, there is no binding obligation on either side until contracts are exchanged, but it is best to be clear from the outset.

You may be asked to pay a booking deposit at this stage, usually a few thousand Euro. This is an indication that you are serious and is refundable in full if the sale does not proceed to exchange of contracts for any reason.

Unfortunately, even at this stage the vendors are not obliged to sell to you at the agreed or any price. They can accept another offer or increase the price at will. This is known as Gazumping and is an unsavoury but common practice in a rising property market.

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Viewing

Contact the agent to arrange a viewing. Usually, they will accompany you but sometimes, they will simply make an appointment for the owner to show you around. If you can, bring someone with you as it is difficult to remember everything you want to look at.

Don't forget to bring a pencil and paper and make notes. It can be very hard after a few weeks and a dozen viewings to remember which house had the rotten windows and which had the magnificent view from the sitting room window!

Take your time viewing and examine what you see - OK, there is a central heating boiler but is it a modern one or a museum piece? PVC windows - are they double glazed? - don't assume.

Try to see beyond the furnishing and the decor. It is easy to be put off by the wallpaper or the furniture which makes the rooms look small.

What you are buying is living space and how you decorate and furnish it can make a huge difference to how it looks.
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The survey

If you are buying with a mortgage, your lender will insist on a survey. You pay for this survey, generally €100 to €150 including VAT, and you should get a copy of it. If you don't, ask for it.
Read more about surveys here.

The Mortgage offer

On receipt of a satisfactory valuation report from the surveyor, your lender will write to you with a formal loan offer.

This will tell you how much they are prepared to lend on this property, over what term, the interest rate, what the repayment terms are, etc.

Read it carefully, make sure you understand it and talk to your solicitor about it if you have any concerns.

When you are happy with it, sign and return a copy to the lender and file your copy safely. They will also require a Direct Debit mandate, a Buildings Insurance policy for the property and Life Insurance covering you.

When they are happy with all these things, they will arrange a date with your solicitor to forward to him/her a cheque for the amount borrowed (the advance).

Exchanging contracts

Finding a property Your solicitor will agree a date with you and the vendor's solicitor for exchanging contracts. This will usually be done at your solicitor's office.

By now, your solicitor should have satisfied him or herself about things like the fairness of the contract, any planning issues that might affect the property, the vendors title to the property, etc..

At this stage your solicitor will agree a Completion date with you and the vendor's solicitor. This is the date on which the sale will be finalised.

You will also be required to pay the balance of the deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price (less any booking deposit you have already paid).

Once contracts are exchanged, the agreement is binding on both parties and, if either party fails to complete the transaction, they can be held legally liable.

In your case, this means that if you fail to complete, you will forfeit your deposit.

If the vendor fails to complete, you will get your deposit back and can sue the vendor for any loss you have incurred - not pleasant either way.

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Loan approval

Strictly speaking you don't need to get loan approval until you have found the property you want to buy. However, you would be well advised to get a loan Approval in Principle at the outset. What this means is that the lender tells you how much they are prepared to lend, based on your income, your credit record, your employment record, etc.

The lender will assess your income, other borrowings, employment, ability to pay the deposit and the monthly repayments and will then tell you how much they would be prepared to lend, what the repayments would be and any other requirements they have.

The approval will still be subject to the property valuation and survey but you will have much of the legwork done and will be in a position to move quickly once you find the right property. If there are problems with your credit history or your employment record, now is the time to find out.

Approval in Principle is not binding on either you or the lender so you have nothing to lose by getting it at the outset. You may save yourself a great deal of trouble later on. It could be enough to tip the balance in your favour where there is another buyer competing to buy the same property.

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Your solicitor

Unless you are a solicitor, don't even consider dispensing with the services of a solicitor.

We give some advice on engaging a solicitor here.

Your solicitor will check the title to the property, any planning issues that affect the property, etc.

Which mortgage?

With all the variables affecting the amount you can borrow and on what terms, we highly recommend you use a good independent broker to do the legwork.

Click here to read what a broker can do for you and what you should expect.

Completion

This is it - the date you've been waiting for!

Your solicitor should have received the advance from your lender and the keys to the property. You will attend your solicitor's office with a draft for the balance of the purchase price. Your solicitor will hand over the full purchase price to the vendor's solicitor and will hand you the keys (and his/her bill!).

Congratulations, the property is yours and you are free to move in and open that bottle of Champagne!

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