When we began considering buying a home here, it was very much a foreign process to us. Even though we read as much as possible about buying a home in Ireland, sought advice from others, I still felt like we were in a dance where we were never quite sure what the next step was. Below are a few things we learned about the process along the way.
1. A buyer’s agent? What’s that?
Here in Ireland, when you decided to buy a home, it’s just you and the online real estate listings (Daft.ie, and myhome.ie). You are responsible for finding the homes you are interested in, calling the agent, scheduling a viewing (if they don’t force you to come to an open house), negotiating with the seller’s agent, etc etc etc. It is a HUGE amount of work. To be fair, there are a few buyer’s agents, but they are not common at all.
2. The 30-minute open house.
You got that right. 30 minutes. None of this leisurely driving around on Sunday afternoons to look at open houses in neighborhoods you like. You need a map, a list of houses, their opening times, and a PLAN. I would spend Friday nights looking at the listing of open houses, and planning a driving route that maximized the number of houses we could see at a time.
3. You don’t need a real estate agent, but you do need a solicitor (lawyer).
A solicitor is necessary to coordinate the title search, correspond with the seller’s solicitor and assure that the documents are correct. They handle most of the correspondence with the seller and agent. To some degree, they fill the role of the buyer’s agent, but they aren’t involved until you have agreed on a price with the seller.
4. Making an offer = calling the estate agent and making a verbal offer.
No paperwork, no contracts to sign. Instead, the negotiation is handled through the estate agent and the seller. We didn’t sign anything until we put down our booking deposit (after agreeing on a final price).
5. But….Nothing is final until the seller signs.
And the seller signs last. This was probably the most nerve-wracking part. After we and the seller agreed on a purchase price, the inspection (survey) and title search was completed, and we were happy with the documents, we put 10% of the purchase price down, and signed the documents. (The remainder of our down payment was transferred at the end of the process.) This legally committed us to buying the home (no backing out now!), BUT the seller can back out at any moment. During the real estate boom, there was a practice of ‘gazumping’, where another buyer could come in at the very last moment, offer 20% more, and the seller could back out of the process with the original buyer and agreed-upon price.
6. The closing date is just when you pick up the keys.
It is very anticlimactic. There is no meeting with both parties where everyone signs off on the documents. After we signed the purchase documents, it was another 3 weeks before the seller signed. And another 5 days or so before we were able to pick up the keys and sign the deed.
7. The process will take at least twice as long as you think it will.
The main thing we learned, we should have already known: No one is in a hurry here. This was a very straightforward sale. Our offer was not contingent on selling a property, we had financing in place, no one was living in the house, and the children of the owners were selling it to close out the estate. There was literally nothing standing in our way, AND YET, the process took 10 weeks. I still have no idea why it took so long…
Of course, I am writing from personal experience, and I know that others may have different experiences despite going through the same process. This post is not, and was never intended to be a “guide to buying a home in Ireland”.