The legal process of buying and selling a property is called conveyancing. A solicitor's job is to take care of all legal aspects of moving house.
Finding the right solicitor can make buying or selling a house run more smoothly. It's a good idea to establish contact with a solicitor before you start looking, because as soon as you place an offer on a property, your estate agent will ask for your solicitor's details to pass onto the seller's solicitor.
People will be slow to recommend solicitors they have had trouble with in the past so one of the best ways of finding a suitable solicitor is through a personal recommendation. Ask your friends, family, work colleagues or the estate agent or mortgage broker for a recommendation.
Try and line up a few to choose from and get the cost of each before making your decision. Prices can vary a lot, with some charging a percentage of the purchase price and some firms charging a flat fee.
For example if you are buying a house for €300,000, solicitor A might charge 1% of the purchase price, which will be €3,000, plus VAT and outlay, and solicitor B might charge a flat fee of E1,250 plus VAT and outlay. The first part of the fee is for the solicitors' time and expertise and the outlay is other costs such as registration of the property.
Check to see if the firm has a specialist dedicated conveyancing team as this will probably mean a smoother and more efficient service.
The main issues your solicitor will have to deal with on your behalf when buying a property are as follows:
- Examining the title of the property you are purchasing. If, for example, the property is registered with the Registry of Deeds, as opposed to the land registry, which is the central body that retains records or who owns the land, your solicitor's investigation could be very complicated as they may have to examine all documents concerning the property for the past 25 years.
- Examining the contract for sale supplied by the vendor's solicitor.
- Examining the mortgage offer from your lender and advising you about the terms and conditions therein.
- Issuing of the solicitor's undertaking regarding the title of the property.
- Raising queries on the title of the property, covering aspects such as planning permission, boundaries, and easements, which is a term referring to the right a property owner may have over adjoining property or land.
- Forwarding the relevant documents to your lender for approval.
- Drafting and execution of the family home declaration.
- Examining the terms and conditions of a building agreement; noting building plans, payments clause, insurance clause and your builder's warranty for defects.
- Conducting searches on the property and examining these to ensure they are in order. Carrying out searches is basically ensuring whether there is nothing that might affect the title of the property you are buying.
- Execution of the deed of transfer and submitting same to the Revenue Commissioners for adjudication.
- Registering the title of the property in the Land Registry.
- Forwarding a certificate of title to your lender.
- Drafting and executing the contract of sale, deed of mortgage and assignment of life policy.