Cunningham Gilbourne Solicitors - Home

Buying a house

The purchase and sale of a home is, for most people, the single biggest financial transaction that they will enter into. It is important to us that our clients have the reassurance of experienced Solicitors, whose  aim is to ensure that you receive practical advice while, at the same time, bringing the transaction to a conclusion in line with your expectations. The vast majority of our property business is either repeat business or referrals from our existing satisfied clients.

Most first time buyers are unaware of the steps involved, the details to be considered or the costs to be expected when  purchasing their first home. Cunningham Gilbourne Solicitors hope that this article provides some practical and helpful answers to the questions that first time purchasers are likely to ask.

 Before you buy

The first step is to decide on the type of house you want, location and, most importantly, the price you can afford to pay.

Consider the following factors:

  • If you are purchasing a second hand house you should engage a suitably qualified Architect/Engineer to carry out a structural survey of the property and give a written report. This is necessary because the rule of “buyer beware” applies to the purchase of a second hand house.
  • In the case of a new house, you will need to check that the builder is registered with the Homebond or Premier Guarantee Scheme and that the estate is properly bonded so that you can be sure that all estate services will be completed.
  • What  local transport services are available?
  • Are there good schools nearby?
  • What amenities are in the area e.g. shops, parks, creches etc
  • Have you asked the Gardaí whether there are problems with crime in the area?
  • Are there major traffic delays in the route to work? Take a test run.
  • Has your auctioneer told you what is included in the purchase? Eg. carpets, curtains, garden shed, light fittings etc…
  • In the case of a new property check the measurements on the plans with the actual house you are buying.
  • Have you secured your loan approval in writing and ensured that the terms of your life cover have been accepted by your Life Assurance Co. before you sign contracts?
  • Are there any man-holes or ESB pillars in either the front or back gardens?
  • If you are buying an apartment/duplex property have you checked out whether the management company is well run and how much the service charge is? We can do this for you.
  • Have you visited the local authority to carry out a planning search on the property? what developments are proposed for the locality and decide if this impacts on your decision to buy.
  • Have there been any extensions carried out on the property? If so, make sure to tell us so that we can advise you to engage an Engineer to check if the appropriate planning and building regulations have been complied with.
  • Make sure that the boundaries of the property are easily identifiable and clearly marked. How do these boundaries compare to those that are on a copy of the deed map. You will need an Engineer to check that everything is in order as far as maps and boundaries are concerned.
  • Before you move in, make sure you have contacted all the utility companies to make sure you are connected to all the necessary services.
  • What is the aspect of the house? Is it south west facing?
  • Are there any rights of way affecting the property or do you need a right of way to access the property?
  • Is there a septic tank on the property? Is it contained within the boundaries of the property or are rights of way and wayleaves required? If so are they registered?]

Adding up the costs

There are significant costs involved in buying a house, apart from the price, which need to be accounted for when deciding what you can afford. They fall into the following areas:

  • Architects fees for structural survey/snag list.
  • Stamp Duty and registration fees.
  • Legal Fees & Outlay.
  • Valuation fee for mortgage

Most people borrow to buy their house. Some financial institutions will give you loan approval in principle even before you have decided on a particular house. You will need to supply details of your income and any savings to your lending institution. If the loan application is in joint names you should also furnish details of your partner’s salary.

  • You will need to carefully consider the various options available to you. In particular, you will need to decide whether to opt for a variable of fixed rate. You should take independent mortgage advice before you make a final decision as to which product you choose.
  • Most loan offers are made subject to a number of conditions. We can advise you of the implications of these conditions.
  • All lending institutions will require us, the purchasers solicitors, to act for them in relation to your loan. This helps to reduce your bill for legal fees as we carry out this work on behalf of the lending institution at no additional cost to you.

Organising your survey

When you are buying a new or second hand house we strongly advise that you have a structural survey carried out. In the case of a new house you should arrange for your surveyor to inspect the house at various stages of construction and finally, for the purposes of compiling a snag list, when it has been completed.

You should note that the surveyor which the building society/lending institution appoints will only carry out a valuation of the property and not a structural survey or snag list.


Insurance is designed to protect you against certain risks, which affect your house. There are two main risks:

Death of the borrower

To cater for this risk your lending institution will require you to take out a life policy which will provide sufficient funds to pay off the loan in the event of a death.

Fire and other perils

You must also take out a policy of insurance against fire and other usual insurable risks with an insurance company of repute. It is important to take out insurance cover on both the buildings and the contents. The name of the lending institution will be noted on the policy.

The legal process

Once you have decided on a house you will usually be required to pay a booking deposit to the auctioneer. We would advise that this deposit be paid through our office so that we can make it clear to the Auctioneers acting for the builder/vendor that this does not bind you in any way and that you are free to change your mind or withdraw from the purchase if you do not get loan approval.

The builders’/vendors’ solicitors will then send contracts and copies of the title documents to us. It is our job to check all title documents carefully to make sure that you will be getting a good title to your property.

We recommend that you/ your Engineer carry out planning  searches to see if there are any planning  issues affecting the property. It is crucial that you are happy with the planning  status  and structural soundness of the property before you sign contracts. Also you must be satisfied that all boundaries are in order and any rights of way that are needed are in place. It is usual that at the signing of contracts you will have paid 10% of the total purchase price. If you fail to complete the purchase after signing unconditional contracts you may risk losing the deposit and you may also be liable for any loss suffered by the builder/vendor.

During the period between execution of contracts and completion we will:

  • send a detailed questionnaire to the builders’ solicitors raising questions on title and specifying the documentation we require to complete the purchase.
  • prepare the final legal and mortgage documents and any necessary statutory declarations for you to sign.
  • make sure your life assurance and fire insurance policies are in place.
  • send out a detailed statement to you setting out the balance monies due on completion.
  • make final searches against the vendor and the property.

Preparing for completion:

  • Make sure all the conditions of your loan approval have been complied with. Keep in regular contact with your bank/broker.
  • Check with us how much you will need to complete the transaction. Remember, you will need to furnish us with a bank draft for any balance due.
  • Arrange for your local post office to redirect your mail to your new address
  • Ensure that all the necessary services such as electricity, gas and water are connected.
  • When you move into your new home ring in the meter readings to the ESB/Bórd Gais immediately.
  • Check with Eircom to see if you can take your old number to your new home.
  • Remember to check if there is an alarm so that we can obtain the alarm code for you.
  • Change the locks. It might be advisable to change all locks as you never know who may have a set of keys
  • Check the property on the morning of the agreed closing date to make sure it is as you agreed with the vendor and includes all contents passing with the house. Take ESB meter readings.

We will go to the vendors’ solicitors offices and exchange the balance monies due for the title deeds and keys. You now own your own home!

Once the sale has been completed there is still  some work for us to attend to. Your  title document must be stamped by the Revenue Commissioners and your purchase and mortgage deeds must be sent for registration. When the registration process is completed we  then send the title documents to your lending institution where they will be held as security until the loan has been repaid.

We advise that you consider making a will. We will take your instructions and draft a suitable Will for you. If you wish we can arrange to have the will kept safely in our Wills safe.

If you are buying a home contact us on 06977583 or to request a quotation.