At some point in your life, you may wish to either buy or sell a home or property. It is not possible in Ireland to fully go through the purchase or sale of a home or property without legal advice and assistance, as this is quite a specialised area of law known as conveyancing. Conveyancing describes the legal work involved in the purchase or sale of land or property (the transfer of rights, interests and liabilities, etc.). It will require the appointment of a solicitor by the parties to the transaction.
The duration of the legal process involved in buying or selling a home or property will largely depend on the individual circumstances pertaining to the transaction. Some vendors (sellers), for example, may prefer a quick sale. A typical conveyance, however, may take anything from 8 to 12 weeks. Your solicitor must be qualified and registered with the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland. All practising solicitors must hold a “practice certificate” issued by the Law Society on an annual basis.
The two most popular methods by which properties in Ireland are purchased and sold are:
- Public auction
- Private treaty sales
A public auction involves two or more parties competing for the property. Each party makes an offer (bid) and the property is sold to the highest bidder. Notice of the date and time of the auction is usually given by advertisement in a local newspaper or by a sign on the property. A reserve figure is set for the property, usually by the owner or auctioneer. The reserve figure is the value the property must achieve; anything below this and the property will be withdrawn from the market. The reserve figure often reflects the level of interest from buyers for the property. When the reserve price has been reached, the vendor usually sells to the highest bidder. At all times during the auction, however, the vendor has the right to withdraw the property from the market, even if it has achieved the reserve figure. Property auctions are conducted under standard Law Society conditions of sale. These conditions stipulate that unless otherwise stated, all auctions have a reserve price, which is rarely disclosed. On occasions where a reserve price is stated, this means that the highest offer on the day that matches or exceeds the reserve price will secure the property. It is important to remember that in almost all cases, the vendor (seller) reserves the right to sell the property before the auction. There are two representative bodies for professional auctioneers and valuers in Ireland. (See further information under “Where to apply”).
In advance of the auction, your solicitor should check the contract for the property (issued by the seller’s solicitor) and all title documents that are referred to in that contract. Important issues to consider at this stage are whether there are any restrictions on extending, sub-letting or developing the property; conditions that are attached to the sale; information about service charges and local services; boundaries; rights of way; items included (if any) with the property, etc. When the purchaser’s solicitor has satisfied his or her enquiries, the purchaser organises a survey of the property to ensure it is sound.
It is important at this stage to honestly evaluate all costs associated with the purchase of property (i.e., mortgage costs, legal fees, registering deeds, stamp duty, etc.). If you have determined that you can afford to purchase the property taking into account all of these costs, then you are ready to attend the auction.
The successful bidder is the person who makes an offer of at least the reserve price. The successful bidder immediately pays a deposit (10% of the asking price) and signs the contract.
Contracts for sale
This contract is a contract for sale that binds the parties to the completion of the transaction. Should the purchaser withdraw from the sale after this contract has been signed, he or she may lose the deposit he or she has paid. This contract for sale include “building agreements” as most properties these days are sold and developed (built upon) by two arms of the same company. In the past, and rarely currently, one company would sell a buyer land and a different company would build upon it. In such instances, the contract is actually a “contract for sale and building agreement” but in virtually all residential sale cases, a contract is simply known as a contract for sale. The completion date will be set out in the contract and the balance of the agreed purchase price will be due on that date. In the intervening period between the signing of the contract and the completion date, the purchaser’s solicitor raises some general queries about the property with the vendor’s solicitor. Such enquiries would include:
- Is a Family Home Protection Act declaration required? This is a declaration that specifies whether or not the property is a family home. If it is a family home, further documents are required that confirm that the interest of both spouses is regarded in the deeds, i.e., that a husband is not selling without a wife’s knowledge or consent. If it is not a family home, then the sale can proceed without further documentation.
- Is the consent of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food regarding sub-division of land required under the Land Act 1965? Some properties, mainly rural, may have regulations or inhibitions regarding sub-division. The consent of the Department of Agriculture and Food to the sale of such property or part of such property may be required under the Land Act 1965.
- Is planning permission in place for any changes that have been made to the property?
When the purchaser’s solicitor receives satisfactory replies to “Requisitions on Title”, a Deed of Conveyance (or assignment) is drafted by him or her and approved by the vendor’s solicitor. Requisitions on Title are a standard set of questions relating to the sale of a property that deal with such things as whether fixtures and fittings are included in the sale. In simple terms, requisitions are a checklist and these are drafted by the Law Society so as to be standardised throughout the legal profession. Once the Deed of Conveyence is approved by the vendor’s solicitor, the purchaser’s lending institution will be contacted by the purchaser’s solicitor to issue the approved loan cheque, the remaining balance of the purchase price is paid to the vendor’s solicitor and all documentation, and keys to the premises are handed over to the purchaser’s solicitor. It is also imperative thaton the date of closing the sale, the purchaser’s solicitor has made arrangements for searches to be made against the vendor to ensure that there are no judgements lying against the vendor (i.e., bankruptcy or sheriffs’ searches). Furthermore, depending on where the title to the property is held (either in the Land Registry or the Registry of Deeds), an up-to-date copy folio or hand search (a search by hand through the records) should be conducted by the purchaser’s solicitor to ensure that there is nothing adverse attaching to the property.
Once a sale is completed, the purchaser’s deeds, showing the new ownership details and mortgage details, if relevant, must be registered with either the Registry of Deeds or the Land Registry. Before this can happen, the deeds must be presented to the Revenue Commissioners who will determine how much, if any, stamp duty is due. Stamp duty is due when deeds are presented to the Revenue Commissioners after the closing of a sale. However, the solicitor will calculate how much stamp duty is due and request this from the purchaser prior to the closing of the sale. Stamp duty is calculated as a percentage of the purchase price, between 3 and 9% depending on the value of the property. Some buyers are exempt from stamp duty on transactions up to a certain value. The amount is paid to the Revenue Commissioners who place a stamp on the deeds. Without this stamp, the deeds cannot be registered.
Your solicitor will determine the nature of the title to your property. The costs incurred will depend on whether the title is held in the Land Registry or the Registry of Deeds.
Land Registry fees
- Registration of mortgage: 125 euro
Registration of Ownership
- Application for registration for a transfer on sale where the value of the consideration is not in excess of 13,000 euro (the value of the consideration refers to the amount paid for the property by the purchaser)
- Application for registration for a transfer on sale where the value of the consideration is in excess of 13,000 euro but not in excess of 26,000 euro
- Application for registration for a transfer on sale where the value of the consideration is in excess of 26,000 euro but not in excess of 51,000 euro
- Application for registration for a transfer on sale where the value of the consideration is in excess of 51,000 euro but not in excess of 255,000 euro
- Application for registration for a transfer on sale where the value of the consideration is in excess of 255,000 euro but not in excess of 385,000 euro
- Application for registration for a transfer on sale where the value of the consideration is in excess of 385,000 euro
- Land Certificate: €25
- Certificate of Charge: €6
- Copy folio: €25
Registry of Deeds fees
- Memorial of Mortgage (a memorial is a summary of the document): €44
- Counterpart of Mortgage (a counterpart is an exact copy of the original document): €12
- Memorial of Conveyance/Assignment: €44
- Counterpart of Memorial of Conveyance/Assignment: €12
Where to apply
If dealing with properties in counties: Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Westmeath contact:
Land Registry Central Office
Chancery Street (Behind the Four Courts)
Tel: (01) 670 7500
Locall: 1890 333 001
Fax: (01) 804 8074
If dealing with properties in counties: Kildare and Wicklow, also houses the Ground Rents Section contact
Land Registry Office (Abbey St)
Irish Life Mall
Lower Abbey Street
Tel: +353 (0)1 670 7500
Fax: +353 (0)1 874 7388
If dealing with properties in counties: Clare, Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo contact
Land Registry Office (Setanta Centre)
Tel: (01) 670 7500
Fax: (01) 804 8251 (Dublin Section) 01-804 8315 (Other Counties)
If dealing with properties in counties: Carlow, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford contact
Land Registry – Waterford offices
Land Registry local office for counties other than Dublin and Waterford is attached to the Circuit Court Office in and for each county.
Registry of Deeds
Tel: +353 (0)1 6707500
Locall: 1890 333001
Public access hours for the Registry of Deeds office are 10.00 am-16.30pm, Monday to Friday. The Registry of Deeds office does not close for lunch.
Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute
The Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institue (IAVI) and the Irish Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) are the two professional bodies that represent and regulate auctioneers, real estate agents and valuers in Ireland. If you wish to make a complaint about a member of either of these bodies or if you wish to check whether your auctioneer, estate agent or valuer is a member, you should contact:
38 Merrion Square
Tel +353 1 6611794
Fax: +353 1 6611797
Irish Professional Auctioneers and Valuers
129 Lower Baggot Street
Tel: +353 1 6785685
Fax: +353 1 6762890