The Ultimate Home Buyers Guide: Navigating the Home Buying Process with Confidence

Buying a home is a major milestone, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced investor. It’s natural to feel apprehensive about the process, but having a knowledgeable solicitor on your side can make all the difference. This guide will walk you through the key stages of the home buying process, ensuring you are informed and ready every step of the way.

1. Is This the Right Property for You?

The decision to buy a property is significant and should be made with a long-term perspective in mind. Here are some essential considerations to help you determine if a property is suitable:

  • Saleability: Consider the location, local services and amenities, the size of the garden, and the direction it faces. These factors can significantly affect the property’s future resale value.
  • Schools: If you have or plan to have children, check the availability and quality of schools in the area. Note that eligibility for school enrolment may depend on your address.
  • Structural Warranties: Ensure the property is covered by HomeBond structural defect protection or the Premier Guarantee structural warranty scheme.
  • Rental Potential: If you plan to rent out the property, assess its desirability as a rental. Look at the number of similar rental properties nearby and the rental income they generate.
  • Mortgage Considerations: Calculate the size of the mortgage you will need and the monthly repayments. If renting, ensure the expected rent covers these repayments.
  • Managed Estates: Check if the property is part of a managed estate and inquire about the service charge. Understand what the charge covers (e.g., refuse collection).
  • Building Energy Rating (BER): Assess the property’s energy efficiency rating, as this affects running costs and environmental impact.

Answer these questions honestly to frame a long-term view of property ownership and determine whether the property is good value.

2. Pay the Booking Deposit

Once you’ve decided on a property, the next step is to place a booking deposit with the sales agent. This deposit indicates your intention to purchase the property and reserves it for you.

The sales agent will then send the sale details to both your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor. This document includes the price, conditions of the sale, the estimated closing date, and the contact details of all parties involved.

Note: The booking deposit does not legally oblige you to purchase the property until contracts are signed by both parties.

3. Receive Contracts for Sale

After paying the booking deposit, the vendor’s solicitor will send the draft purchase contracts to your solicitor.

Note: If the vendor’s solicitor doesn’t have the title deeds, you might have to wait between four to eight weeks to receive the contracts for sale.

4. Arrange Loan Approval

Once your booking deposit is accepted and you have the draft purchase contracts, it’s time to secure loan approval. Also known as a facility letter, this is the official confirmation from your bank or building society regarding the mortgage amount and terms they’ve agreed to offer. The terms include the mortgage length, interest rate, and whether the rate is variable or fixed. Inform your bank to forward the loan pack directly to your solicitor.

5. Structural Survey

Your surveyor, engineer, or architect should conduct a detailed structural survey to identify any issues that were not apparent when you made your offer.

For newly built homes, arrange a snag list once you receive a completion notice from the builder. The builder will address these snags, and you may withhold a small percentage of the purchase price until the defects liability period ends. Discuss this with your solicitor first.

6. Signing Contracts

When your solicitor has both the title documents and your lender’s letter of offer, they will arrange a convenient time for you to sign the purchase contract. During the appointment, your solicitor will:

  • Explain relevant details about the property title and ownership
  • Confirm the purchase price
  • Verify the property’s dimensions and location on an official title map
  • Review the specification for new builds
  • Provide information about the management company and service charges, if applicable
  • Discuss the closing date (the date you will receive the keys)
  • Advise on mortgage loan terms to ensure the offer is in order
  • Present contracts and loan documents for signing
  • Accept a balance deposit, usually 10-20% of the purchase price

7. After Contract Signing

After the contracts are countersigned by the vendor and exchanged, the contract becomes binding on both parties. Your solicitor will now work with your bank to ensure the loan funds are ready for the closing date. This is your opportunity to arrange final items required by your lender, including:

  • Mortgage Protection Insurance: Covers the full mortgage repayment in the event of your death.
  • Property Structural Insurance/Fire Cover: Insures the property for the cost of rebuilding if destroyed by covered risks.

Your solicitor will inform you of the remaining balance, including mortgage funds, stamp duty, and registration fees. Current stamp duty rates in Ireland are 1% of the purchase price up to €1 million and 2% for any amount over €1 million.

Note: Ensure you have these funds in place before the closing date.

8. Mortgage Drawdown

Before drawing down your mortgage, your bank will require:

  • A professional valuation of the property
  • Home insurance

The bank will then issue a formal letter of offer detailing:

  • Mortgage value, length, cost, and repayment schedule
  • The property’s address and description
  • Terms and conditions
  • Expiry date of the offer

9. Receiving Your Keys

The day has finally arrived: The balance of the purchase price is transferred, your solicitor conducts final checks, and upon verifying everything is in order, the seller receives the purchase price, and you receive the keys. The property is now yours!

10. After Completion

After closing, you will need to sign the purchase deed. Your solicitor will then arrange payment of stamp duty and register the property in your name in the property registration authority. Once registered, you will be informed, and the deeds will be sent to your lender for the mortgage duration. Cash buyers are entitled to keep the deeds.


The home buying process can be intricate and challenging, but with the right guidance, it becomes manageable and rewarding. By following this guide, first-time homebuyers and real estate investors can navigate the journey with confidence, ensuring each step is well-informed and strategically planned.

Remember, having a competent solicitor by your side is crucial to navigating the legal aspects and easing much of the stress involved. Whether you’re buying your first home or adding to your investment portfolio, being well-prepared and knowledgeable will help you achieve a successful and enjoyable home buying experience.

For more insights and assistance on the home buying process, feel free to reach out to our expert team. Happy house hunting!

By focusing on these steps and understanding the importance of each, you can make informed decisions that lead to a successful property purchase. If you have any questions or need further assistance, our team is here to help. Good luck on your home buying journey!

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