The sale or purchase of a house is always an important milestone in a person’s life. There are important decisions to be taken and it is necessary that you consult your Solicitor to guide you through the legal issues that will always arise. In this article the focus is on the sale of a house and in next week’s article the focus will be on the purchase of a house.

As Seller or Vendor you will first have to decide on how you wish to market your house. You may decide to engage an auctioneer or you may decide to advertise yourself through the local or national press or on-line. Almost everybody employs an auctioneer. Self-sales are uncommon in Ireland. Your auctioneer will advise on how the house should be advertised.

Once you have taken the decision to sell you should consult your Solicitor and instruct him or her to obtain your title deeds and advise you on any Planning, Family Law, Taxation or other issues that may arise. Your Solicitor can put suitable conditions in the contract to deal with your particular circumstances. You should be aware of the obligation to provide a Building Energy Rating Certificate to the Purchaser. Your Solicitor will advise you on how to obtain it. For the sale your Solicitor will require your PPS number, a copy of your State Marriage Certificate (if applicable) and, if you are a new client, identification and utility bills showing your address to comply with money laundering legislation.

When a sale is agreed your Auctioneer will give the relevant details to your Solicitor who will then send out the contracts and copy title documents to the Purchaser’s Solicitor . At this stage a booking deposit will usually have been paid by the Purchaser to your Auctioneer and the balance of the deposit, 10% of the purchase price, will be paid by the Purchaser upon the signing of the contracts. Once the contract is signed by the Purchaser, it and the deposit are sent to your Solicitor. You will then be contacted by your Solicitor to call to sign the contract.

When the contract is signed by you it becomes legally binding on you and you must complete the sale on the agreed date with the Purchaser. Should you fail to do so the Purchaser can bring Court proceedings for breach of contract against you. On the other hand should the Purchaser fail to complete on time you will be able to charge interest and serve a Completion Notice which gives the Purchaser four weeks to complete or lose the deposit. You can also sue for breach of contract.

Between the signing of the contracts and the completion date your Solicitor will reply to a series of questions about the property raised by the Purchaser’s Solicitor which are known as Requisitions on Title. Your Solicitor will reply to those queries with your assistance. These replies must be correct and accurate otherwise you could be sued later by the Purchaser for misrepresentation. In addition, your Solicitor will prepare the necessary closing documents and, if your house is mortgaged, obtain up to date redemption figures from your Bank.

Once all matters are in order the sale will be completed. The balance of the purchase monies are paid to your Solicitor who will forward the closing documents to the Purchaser’s Solicitor. At the same time you must give vacant possession and the keys of your house to the Purchaser. Vacant possession means that the house must be in a clean and clear condition. Most people leave the keys with their auctioneer for the Purchaser to collect when the balance purchase monies have been paid. Your Solicitor will redeem your mortgage and pay over the sale proceeds to you. On average the process takes between 4 to 6 weeks from the date contracts are signed but, be warned, delays are unfortunately all too frequent!

-Mary Walsh