Buying a property in Ireland could be one of the largest and most significant purchases you ever make. It can be a complicated process, involving a number of essential checks surrounding the legal, tax and planning status of the dwelling. Before attempting to purchase a property in Ireland, you should engage a solicitor and apply for a Personal Public Service Number (PPS). You may also want to consider granting power of attorney.
During the purchase process it’s advisable to have sound legal advice from a party acting in your interests, so you’ll need to appoint your own Irish solicitor. You can find reputable solicitors by checking the Law Society’s website.
It’s also important to check that the auctioneer or estate agent you’re dealing with is authorised to act on your behalf with the Property Service Regulatory Authority (PSRA), while also ensuring the contract protects your rights and money.
Solicitors’ charges vary substantially, but usually cost between 1-1.5% for a property purchase. As a solicitor can help you avoid or deal with common problems this is usually money well spent!
If you want to acquire property in Ireland but aren’t able to stay in the nation to manage the purchase process, you could grant your solicitor power of attorney. By nominating a solicitor based in Ireland to represent you throughout the whole legal process, the purchase can progress without you actually being in Ireland yourself.
You’ll need an Irish PPS Number (equivalent to a National Insurance Number) before you can purchase a property in Ireland as you aren’t permitted to complete a significant financial transaction without one, regardless of whether you’re a resident or non-resident. The PPS is a tax identification number that must be applied for personally. Your solicitor may be able to advise you on this if you’re not sure where to start.
In order to secure your chosen property and have it taken off the market, you’d normally be required to pay a 5% booking deposit to the estate agent. Your solicitor then draws up a contract for sale and sends this to the seller’s solicitor. Until you sign the contracts, the booking deposit is fully refundable (unless the property is purchased at auction, when it’s usually legally binding and therefore non-refundable).
Once the contract is signed you’ll be required to pay a further 5% of the property’s cost to your solicitor. Typically a sale will close within 4 – 6 weeks of signing a contract, at which point the balance of monies due (totalling 90% of the purchase price) is payable.
Between signing the contract and paying the remainder of the monies owed, your solicitor will draft a purchase deed and ask the seller’s solicitor a range of standard questions (known as Requisitions on Title) regarding the sale of the property. Note, at this point you as the buyer have committed yourself to purchasing the property (providing the answers to the requisitions are satisfactory), but the seller is not committed to sell the property until they sign the Deed of Conveyance prepared by your solicitor.
Questions and searches your solicitor may ask include:
Before your purchase closes, your solicitor will conduct a thorough search of the Irish Land Registry to make sure everything is in order with the property you’re buying and that there are no debts held against it. This will also include scrutiny of any mortgages currently held against the property.
If any home improvements have been made to the property, it’s important your solicitor makes sure they comply with Irish Planning and Building Regulation laws.
If any alterations have not been recorded properly, or planning permission has not been obtained where necessary, this can cause problems when the property is sold, and could become an issue for you in the future.
Legal ownership is organised by your solicitor, and all relevant transfer taxes (called stamp duty) must be paid before the title can be transferred to your name.
Allow between 3-5% of the purchase price to cover the costs of buying your new home in Ireland. Keep reading for a detailed overview of the different taxes that must be paid when buying a property in the Emerald Isle.
Continue to section 3: Taxation in Ireland