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The 3 Stages to Selling a House in Ireland

Selling a house involves the negotiation of the following three stages:

I will explain in detail what is involved in each stage so you can manage your time frame expectations.

If you pay more attention to stage 1, you can speed up stages 2 and 3. 

Stage 1. Preparation for sale

Stage 1 includes readying the actual property such as doing minor repairs, but it also includes appointing a solicitor, requisitioning the title deeds from the financial institution holding the mortgage (this can sometimes take three months or more), and asking your solicitor to check through the title deeds.

This is to make sure the boundaries are clearly defined and get land registry mapping done if required, ensuring that planning is in order and that any modifications or extensions are correctly certified.

If your property is part of a multiple-unit development, the management company should be informed that you are planning to sell, and you should confirm that they can provide the necessary paperwork at short notice.  If significant structural defects exist within the development or it does not have a current fire safety certificate, this can cause additional delays.

If the title deeds have been lost (by you, a financial institution or a solicitor) they may need to be reconstituted which can take many months to do. If the seller is separated, their ex may have a legal interest in the property under the family home protection act, even after a divorce agreement or separation agreement has been made, and may need to sign off on the sale,  

If a sale is subject to probate, probate has to be granted before contracts for sale can be issued. It is foolish to put a house on the market before the probate application has been completed and submitted. 

Stage 2. Finding a buyer

Stage 2 can actually happen very quickly if you have a proactive agent and your property is priced appropriately.

If you over-price your property, fewer people will look at it, and those that do will find other properties in the same price range more attractive. As a result, you will get fewer, if any, offers and the offers will come in below your expectations. If you price your property correctly and appoint an agent who does a good job marketing it to attract the right buyers, it will sell more quickly for more money.

The competitive bidding process quickly establishes its full market value and narrows the interested parties down to a winning bidder. These days with online bidding interested parties can bid any time day or night. This speeds up the bidding process.

In some cases, a property can be sale agreed within a few days. On average, we find it usually takes 3-4 weeks to complete the bidding process, accept an offer and receive the booking deposit from the winning bidder. 

Recently we completed this process on one property within 24 hours of the first viewing. At another property, we had a first viewing on a Saturday, and by Monday evening, we were at top offer. 

If your property gets stuck at this stage, three possibilities exist:

  • A. Your property is over-priced.
  • B. There is something about your property which is putting off prospective buyers.
  • C. Your selected agent is doing a poor job of marketing your property.

If you are at this point, it might be a good idea to contact another agent (like myself) with experience in identifying and overcoming objections and a track record of successfully selling properties where other agencies have failed to ask them to do a fresh valuation and an audit of the marketing. 

You will need to disengage your current agent before you can appoint a replacement.  Section 10 of the agency agreement you signed with your current agent describes this process. If your current agent suggests reducing the asking price, it indicates that they are not finding a buyer at the price they recommended. This is a good time to consider other options.

Stage 3. Conveyancing – the legal process of transferring ownership.

Stage 3 is often where the delays happen.

Since June 2011, every property purchased in Ireland must be registered with the Land Registry.  When doing so, since 2019, the buyer’s solicitor has to sign off on the title for all future transactions of this property.

It then becomes a “registered title”, and future purchasers can assume that the title has been fully checked and is in order, greatly speeding up the process next time round.

The risk for the buyer’s solicitor is that if it subsequently transpires that title is not in order, they have to rectify it entirely in their own time at their own expense. Thus they are very careful to have every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted. The purchase cannot be completed until this is done. 

Also within stage 3 is the structural survey and resolving any issues arising from this. If the buyer needs a mortgage to complete the purchase, their bank will require a valuation and will also go through their paperwork with a fine tooth comb. The buyers will also need to obtain life and property insurance, which can cause further delays if there are medical issues or if let’s say, the property is in a flood plain.

Finally, the government has added a large amount of regulatory paperwork around local property tax, second property tax, septic tank registration, fair deal scheme settlements etc. 

If the buyer has to sell another property or the seller needs to buy a new home, these transactions (with all their complexities) must be coordinated with this one.

If any one of these transactions fall through, the whole chain can fail (which is why we recommend sellers make transitional arrangements so they have somewhere to live for a few months, if necessary, between the completion of their sale and the completion of their purchase). 

If a tenant lives in a property, then a buyer cannot take out an owner-occupier mortgage without obtaining vacant possession. The process of going through the RTB and the courts to obtain vacant possession can be very lengthy. 

Depending on the length of the tenancy, the tenants may be legally entitled to a notice period of up to 224 days. If notice has not been properly served, the RTB can turn it over. 

If the tenant does not move out voluntarily at the end of the notice period, the owner has to go to the RTB to determine overholding and then to the courts to enforce it.

Why does it take a long time to sell a house in Ireland?

Selling your house in Ireland takes a long time because you need to get your house ready, find a buyer in the market, and then get through all the legals (conveyancing).

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