The A to Z of buying a house in Ireland

Are you thinking about buying a house in the near future? Not sure how to get started? There are lots of ‘buying a house checklists’ online. Most will mention the various laws, documents and fees you should be aware of. Hiring a solicitor is a reoccurring theme. And this is because spending the time to learn about all of the ins and outs of buying a house can be extremely confusing and time-consuming.

Before you hire a solicitor to help you buy a house, it makes sense to learn the basics of conveyancing. If conveyancing seems like a scary world full of jargon, complex legislation and procedure to you then we’re here to help. Gibson’s & Associates Solicitors have got you covered. We’ve put together a helpful A – Z guide that covers the basics. You’ll learn some of the conveyancing vocab, but we’ve also drawn your attention to some easily forgotten aspects of buying a new house.

A – Advised Market Value (AMV)

If an estate agent is helping to sell your home, the Advised Market Value (AMV) is the estimate valuation that they think you should sell your property for.

A – Auction

You can buy property at an auction in Ireland. This can be a good way to find cheaper, unusual property. We’ve written a complete guide about how you can buy property at auction in Ireland, so check that out for more information.

B – BER Certificate

The BER Certificate stands for “Building Energy Rating”, and rates the overall energy efficiency of a building (residential or commercial). The rating is similar to the energy label on your fridge and is denoted on a scale of A to G.  A1 is the most energy efficient and G being the least energy efficient. The certificate contains the following information:

  • The building name and address,
  • A BER number
  • The date of issue
  • The date until when the BER is valid
  • The BER assessor number
  • The BER assessor company number

B – Builder

When you’re provisionally viewing a house, it can be helpful to bring a builder along with you. They may be able to spot things that are wrong with the building, including potential structural issues. But bear in mind – this is not the same as a professional inspection or survey.

C – Conveyancing

Conveyancing is the legal work that covers the buying or selling a property. Check out our comprehensive guide on conveyancing.

C – Contract

In almost all residential sales, a contract is known as a contract for sale. The contract for sale binds the parties to the completion of the sale. In other words, once it’s signed you have to go through with it or risk losing your deposit. The completion date will be set out in the contract and the balance of the agreed purchase price will be due on that date.

If you buy at auction you must immediately sign the contract for sale. If you buy through private treaty (private treaty explained under P) your solicitor will check that the contract is in order before you sign it.

D – Deposit

This is a certain proportion of the total value of the property that you need to pay up front. Your mortgage typically covers the remainder of the cost.

E- Electoral Register

Make sure you tell the authorities when you move. Notifying the local council of your change of address quickly is a must. If you want to exercise your right to vote in local and national elections you will need to change your address on the role of electors. You can use checktheregister.ie to check to see if you are on the Electoral Register.

E – Exchange contracts

This phrase is used to describe the moment when legal contracts are swapped between the seller and the buyer of the property. The contracts are signed by the buyer ( purchaser) in duplicate, then passed over to be countersigned by the seller (vendor). The “exchange” takes place when the seller returns the signed contract to the purchaser, creating a binding agreement between them.

F – First-time buyer

A first-time buyer is someone that is buying their first property. It also means that they are not reliant on the sale of a current property to be able to complete.

Ordinarily, buying a house will coincide with someone else buying another house. This means that you are part of a chain of people all trying to buy and sell. This means that your purchase is often dependent on other deals being done. If there’s a first-time buyer in the chain, it simplifies matters as they won’t have a house to sell.

If you’re a first-time buyer yourself,  there are advantages and disadvantages. You may have access to help-to-buy-incentive (TTB) and better mortgage-rates but you may not have the experience and knowledge to help you make well-informed decisions. But don’t worry, we’ve already created a first-time buyers guide to help you.

G – Gazumping

Gazumping is when the seller of a property accepts an offer from someone that wants to buy the house but then changes their mind and accepts a higher offer from someone else.

G – Gazundering

This is the opposite of gazumping. A buyer might decide to lower their offer just before the contracts are signed. Sometimes the buyer doesn’t choose to do this but is reacting to an event in the chain, or findings in the survey. 

H – House Insurance

As a homeowner, it’s important to ensure your property against damage such as flooding, storm damage or even a fire. Contents insurance is also a great idea. You must have an insurance policy in place before a mortgage is agreed upon.

H – House Price Index

A house price index (HPI) is a tool that measures the price change for residential housing. In the Republic of Ireland, the central statistics of Ireland has published a monthly house price index since 2005.

I – Interest rate

You will have to pay interest on your mortgage. The interest rate is the amount you have to pay to borrow money. It is usually seen as a percentage per year. Interest rates can be either fixed or variable. Fixed means that the interest rate and the monthly payment stays the same for a set period of time. This means that for every month during this period your mortgage repayments will remain the same. A variable-rate mortgage will go up or down in relation to the Bank of Ireland’s base rate or your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR).

J – Joint Tenants

This means the whole property is owned by two or more people with the intention that, when one dies, the other person will automatically own all of the property.

K – Keys

When you buy your new house, it may-be a good idea to change the locks. This means you’ll know for certain how many keys there are and who has them.

L – Loan to Value Rate

The loan to value (LTV) is essentially the size of a mortgage that a lender is prepared to offer you in relation to the value of the property you are buying or re-mortgaging. For example, if the property value is €200,000 and the loan is for €150,000, then the LTV is 75%.

M – Mortgage

This is a loan that is provided to you by a lender (usually a bank or building society) so that you can purchase a property.

M – Mortgage Valuation Fee

This is often a fee charged by your mortgage lender for commissioning a mortgage valuation. A mortgage valuation is quite a basic inspection of your property. This is not a professional survey. The mortgage provider will value your property and make sure it’s worth the amount you wish to borrow. Some lenders might waive this fee on certain mortgage deals.

N – New Build

This term refers to a house that has recently been built or is yet to be built.

O – Off-plan

Off-plan refers to buying a house when it has not been built yet. This might sound risky, but in a market where property prices are on the up and more homes are needed, it can have its rewards. Buying off plan means that you’ll need to find a suitable development and, in some cases, pay a reservation fee.

P – Private Treaty Sales

A private treaty sale is the opposite of buying a house at auction. You’ll negotiate with the seller, usually via intermediaries such as an agent and solicitor, until you reach an agreement for the property. This is the most common way of buying property.

Q – Questions

If you are viewing a house it’s a good idea to have lots of questions prepared beforehand. These should include both broad and specific questions so that you leave the viewing with all the information you might need to make a decision.

R – Requisitions on Title

Requisitions on a Title are a set of conveyancing questions raised by the buyer’s conveyancing lawyers to the seller’s conveyancing lawyers. This is normally a questionnaire designed to get certain key information on the property. Questions can include:

  • A planning search, with the local planning office, to reveal whether there are plans to construct anything which would adversely affect the value, enjoyment or use of the property such as roads, railway lines, airports, shops or factories, and whether applications for planning permission in respect of the property have been lodged or refused;
  • A compulsory purchase order search with the local authority to find out whether the land is subject to compulsory purchase by the state or local authority, e.g. for road building or widening;
  • A licensing search (in the case of a hotel or pub).

S – Stamp Duty

A fee in the form of a government tax that’s added to the purchase price of a residential house or property. Stamp duty is normally 1% of the selling price of any residential property up to €1m.

S – Survey

This is a property health check carried out by professional property surveyors. The level of detail they will go into depends on how much you are willing to spend. If you are concerned about the structural health of a property, it is a good idea to get a comprehensive structural survey carried out. Being forewarned is being forearmed. A detailed house survey should be a priority because it will give you the peace of mind to move in worry-free.

The survey will, at the very least, produce a helpful ‘snag list’ on the property (an inspection of minor faults) allowing you to budget for repairs or renovations beforehand.

T – Transfer Deed

When a property is sold, a Deed of Transfer is submitted to the land registry, and the Registrar replaces the vendor’s name with the new buyer’s.

U – Unregistered Title

This is the term used to describe property which has not been registered in the Land Registry. The essential difference is that with a registered property the seller’s name is recorded in a Land Certificate and a purchaser does not have to trace back the previous owners as the persons whose name appears as the owner is regarded as being conclusive proof of his ownership.

V – Vendor

This is a conveyancing term used to describe the seller of the property.

W – Wayleave Agreement

A Wayleave Agreement is a formal agreement made between the landowner and the energy company to allow them to use the land to run cables or to place equipment on the site. In return for granting the right to use this land, the energy company will usually pay a fee, similar to a tenant paying rent to a landlord. A solicitor can check if there are any such agreements for the property you want to buy in place.

Y – Yield

Yield is a term often used in relation to how much a property can make through rent compared to its overall value. This term is commonly heard when discussing buy-to-let ventures. If a house has a high yield rate, it means that you have paid a fairly low price for the property but are able to rent it out for a higher price.

Z – Zoning

Zoning is the process for when local authorities decide what land can be used for. This happens when local authorities create development plans for areas of land. Land may be designated for residential use, for industrial, commercial, agricultural or recreational use; as open space; or a mixture of these uses. Home buyers should check that the property they want to buy has been build in a zone of land designated for residential use.

Property Conveyancing With Gibson & Associates

At Gibson & Associates, we offer a high-quality conveyancing service. It’s our job to make sure your property transaction goes through smoothly and efficiently.

While our solicitors will handle all the details of a property exchange, they’ll also ensure you’re kept in the loop, explaining the process in an approachable and jargon-free manner.

We also offer fixed fees on all our conveyancing services, so you’ll never pay more than what’s first agreed.

Get in touch with our dedicated team today. We’d be delighted to answer any queries or questions you may have. You can call us on 1890 989 289 or fill out the form below: