5 Steps to Your New Home

1. Save up for a deposit

2. Know your budget

3. Find your new home

4. Due Diligence

5. Closing the sale

1. Save a deposit

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you build, so you need to prepare for it as much as possible. Before you apply for a mortgage there are a number of things to arrange :

You will need to save a deposit- new regulations implemented by the Central bank means lenders can lend you up to 90% of the value of the property that you wish to buy. For instance, if you can afford to buy a home worth €300,000, your lender may lend up to EUR270,000. This means you need to have the remaining 10%, or €3,000, of the price of the property saved for your deposit .

First-time buyers

If you are a first-time buyer you can borrow up to 90% of the value of the property. As a first-time buyer you are now also eligible for the Help-To-Buy Scheme where you can claim back a 5% taxation rebate on the value of your New Home (up to a maximum €2 0,000 rebate) on Newly Built Homes up to a max. value of €500,000 on the price of the house. Please check out www.revenue.iefor more details .

Second purchasers

If you are a not a first-time buyer, different rules will apply. A lender may lend up to 80% of the value of the property that you wish to buy. For instance, if you can afford to buy a home worth €500,000, your lender may lend up to EUR4 00,000. This means you need to have the remaining 20%, or €100,000, of the price of the property saved for your deposit .

Opening a regular savings account is a good way to help you save a deposit, and will also demonstrate any mortgage lender that you have a solid regular savings record. This will be important when you apply for a mortgage .

Remember, your lender can refuse to lend you a mortgage and will make their own determination as to whether you can afford the repayments, so it’s important to work out where your fund is going and whether you can really afford it.


2. Know your budget

Approval in Principle

Some people find the property they want to buy first, and then start looking for a mortgage. But there is no point looking at a new home if you don’t know whether you can get a mortgage or how much you can borrow. Getting’ approval in principle’ means that your lender approves you for a mortgage of up to a certain sum, based on the details you provide in your application .

Having approval in principle does not mean that you need to buy the most expensive home you can. When you are looking at property, try not to be guided by the amount you can borrow. Any offer you build should be based on what you think the home is worth versus others in the same area, or similar homes.

Applying for a mortgage
Good money management and a steady savings record will work in your favour when applying for a mortgage. Get more information on applying for a mortgage .

Mortgage protection insurance
Once your mortgage application is approved, you should look for mortgage protection insurance which is insurance that will pay off your mortgage if you die within the term of the policy. You should not wait until you have made an offer on a home or apartment before shopping around and applying for mortgage protection insurance. It can take some time to get approval, especially if you have had poor health in the past. This could delay the sale as, by law, your lender must make sure that you have this covering before taking out a mortgage .

However, your lender can insist on you having the covering and can refuse you a mortgage if you cannot get it. Most mortgage lenders offer to arrange mortgage protection insurance for you when you apply for a mortgage. You do not have to take the mortgage protection policy your lender offers you and you are free to shop around for a suitable policy .

3. Find your new home

The best place to start is on the internet. Websites such as www.kelly.ie www.daft.ie and www.myhome.ie are a great starting point to find properties that you like based on their locating, size, number of bedrooms, property type, condition etc before you even go out looking .

When you find a home you are interested in, remember to ask the estate agent any questions you have which might help you build your decision.
4. Look for a solicitor

While you are looking for a property, you should also look to hire a solicitor to do the’ conveyancing’- this is the legal work to transfer ownership of the property from the dealer to you. It is a good idea to choose a solicitor before you start looking at properties, because as soon as you have an offer accepted, the estate agent will ask for your solicitor’s details to pass onto the seller’s solicitor .

Solicitor’s fees vary and may be either a percentage of the price of the home, or a flat fee. You will usually be charged additional fees for things like telephone, postage, search fees and registering deeds. So, before you choose a solicitor, store around and ask several different solicitors for written quotes and details about their professional fees and other costs.

Making an offer on a home

When you have decided on the home you want to buy, you can make an offer to the dealer. Contact the estate agent and say that you would like to make an offer on the property and tell them what cost you are offering. Tell them your offer is’ subject to contract and survey’- this means that you are offering to pay this amount in principle, providing there are no legal or structural issues with the property. Your solicitor will check there are no legal issues, and you will need a surveyor to check that there are no structural issues. If your survey reports something you were not aware of on your initial offer, you can recede you offer, or revise it. The dealer will normally specify what is included in the sale of the property- for example, if kitchen appliances, curtains, carpets etc. are included or not- so be clear when telling the estate agent what you expect to be included in the offer .

Sale agreed

If your offer is accepted it is usually called’ sale agreed’ and you will need to pay a booking deposit to the estate agent. Booking deposits vary- they can be a specific sum such as EUR5 000, or a small percentage of the offer you have constructed. The booking deposit is refundable up until you sign the contracts and enter a legally binding agreement. Paying your booking deposit is a strong signal to the estate agent that you intend to buy the property and will usually mean that the home won’t be put on the market again for three to four weeks .

Once your offer is accepted, the estate agent will prepare a document of sale details and send this to the seller’s solicitor and to your solicitor. This document contains details of the cost, conditions of the sale, the estimated’ closing date’- the day you will be given the keys of the property -, and the names and addresses of all those involved in the sale .

Once the seller’s solicitor receives the sale details from the estate agent they will send the contracts for the sale of the property, along with a copy of the Title Deeds of the property to your solicitor. Title deeds are legal documents indicating the ownership of a particular property. Each day the ownership changes a new deed is drawn up to show the change .

4. Due Diligence

Get a solicitor

A solicitor will guide you through the legal process of transferring ownership of the property from the dealer to you- this is known as’ conveyancing ‘. Your solicitor will also check that the sale of the property is legal- that the person who is selling the property owns it and has the right to sell it, and that nobody else could claim to own it .

Once you have an offer accepted, the estate agent will ask for your solicitor’s details and pass these on to the seller’s solicitor.

Get a survey

You should strongly consider hiring your own surveyor, engineer or designer to carry out a detailed structural survey, especially if you are buying an older property. This will help highlight any issues you may not have been aware of when you constructed your offer. For instance, if your surveyor discovered that the roof needed to be completely replaced, you could change your offer to account for this, or decide not to buy .

If you are buying a property at an auction, you would usually have your survey completed before the auction. Ask the auctioneer for the terms and conditions of the auction, which will be available before the auction date .

Get a valuation

Once the property is’ sale agreed ‘, you can arrange for a valuation. Your lender will want a professional valuation completed on a home before they formally agree to lend you the money to buy it. You may need to hire a professional valuer yourself, or your lender may have a valuer they use. The valuation will only look at the general state of the property and the locating. The valuer will send their valuation to your lender who will base their formal loan offer on this valuation .

Snag list

If you are buying a newly built home, you and your solicitor will receive a” finish notice” from the builder once all the work is finished. As soon as you receive this, it is important you arrange to have a’ snag listing’ drawn up. This is a list of incomplete jobs or things that you want put right. Instances of item for snag lists include :

cracks in ceilings or walls

skirting boards not correctly placed

doorways that don’t open and close correctly

uneven plasterwork

broken light switchings

loose wiring

leaking pipes

You can make a snag listing yourself, but it is recommended that you hire an designer, engineer or chartered surveyor who will have experience in this area and knows what to look for when snagging new homes. Once the snag listing is complete, you give a copy to the builder. The builder will then work on fixing all the snags .

You should do a final inspection of the new property to make sure that all the snags have been fixed. You can do this on your own, or with the person you hired to do up the snag listing. The cost of hiring them may be higher if you want them to inspect the property with you .

You should think about agreeing a” flaws liability period” with your builder before you sign any contracts. This means that you agree that the builder will fix any further problems that arise free of charge within a certain period of time. Sometimes you can withhold a small percentage of the buy cost of the home until the end of this period and then pay it to the builder. Discuss this with your solicitor first to see if this is possible .

Most new houses being built in Ireland are registered by the builder with an insurance scheme such as Homebond or Premier Guarantee. These schemes cover structural flaws in new houses for 10 years after completion of the house .

So if your home is less than 10 years old and you then find it has structural problems, get a structural survey and check whether your property is covered by Homebond or Premier Guarantee or a similar guarantee scheme .

5. Closing the Sale

Mortgage approval

Once your offer has been accepted, contact your lender and inform them. Your lender will ask for details of the property such as the address, the type of property and the age of the property. Once a valuation survey has been completed and the lender is happy with the valuer’s reports, they will approve your loan for that property and that sum, and will send you a formal’ letter of offer ‘. This sets out the details of the mortgage your lender is offering you, including :

The value, length, cost and repayment schedule of the mortgage

The address and description of the property to be bought

Any terms and conditions which apply to the offer

Expiry date of the mortgage offer

Your lender may want to see a surveyors report before issuing you a letter of offer, if the property is very old. Your bank will also send a copy of your letter of offer to your solicitor, along with other legal paperwork, so you should meet with your solicitor as soon as possible after get your letter of offer .

Signing contracts

When you meet your solicitor, they will explain and complete various documents with you. If you are happy with all the details, you formally accept the letter of offer from your lender through your solicitor. You solicitor will also check that the contracts are in order. If they are happy with the contracts, you will sign two copies. Your solicitor will return both of these copies to the seller’s solicitor. At this point you have legally agreed to buy the property .

You will then need to pay a deposit- usually up to 10% of the buy cost less any booking deposit you have paid- to your solicitor, who will arrange to have it paid to the dealer through their solicitor .

Once the seller’s solicitor receives the contract you have signed and the deposit, they and the dealer will sign and return one copy of the contract to your solicitor. At this point the dealer has legally agreed to sell you their property .

Both solicitors will arrange for a final” closing date” and day at which stage you will be given the keys to the property. Before this, the remainder of the money must be paid, which means all the paperwork and approval for your loan must be completed and returned to your lender by your solicitor.

Before your mortgage cheque is issued, you will need to have home insurance in place. Once the property is’ sale agreed’ you should start looking for insurance so that the house is covered by the time the sale is closed. If you are buying an apartment, houses insurance should be part of your service charge, so you don’t need to arrange this yourself. However, you may still want to arrange contents insurance before you move in, regardless of whether you are buying a home or an apartment.

Once your lender is happy that they have all the paperwork and it is in order, the mortgage cheque will be issued to your solicitor. Your solicitor will arrange to have these funds transferred to the dealer through their solicitor .

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is the tax you will have to pay when you buy a property. Since December 2010, the rate is 1% of the buy cost for properties valued up to EUR1 million, and 2% on any sum over that. Your solicitor will arrange to pay the stamp duty for you, but bear in mind you will need to pay this fund to your solicitor when they are closing the sale- so you will need to have this amount of money available .

Collect your keys

Once the balance of the funds have been transferred to the dealer before the agreed closing date and day, the estate agent will call you and explain that everything is in order for the closing. The estate agent will also remind the dealer of the closing date and day. Once the estate agent tells you that the keys are ready to be collected, the property is officially yours, so the dealer must have left the property, and removed any items not included in the sale, before this time. It is also now your responsibility to make sure that the property is safe and secure, so even if you are not moving in instantly you should still visit the property. You should also make sure you have insurance in place .