How long will it take?
The common question for solicitors from clients who have either agreed to buy or sell a property is how long the transaction is going to take.
When acting for a purchaser I would normally reply “It depends…”. That may not seem to be too informative for a client but unfortunately the reality is that nobody really knows how prepared the Vendor is to sell a property.
It is quite common for Vendors to concentrate on finding a buyer for their property without checking in with their solicitor at an early stage to ensure they are ready to sell once a buyer is found. It is possible and advisable to do both at the same time. When approaching an auctioneer or placing an advertisement to sell a property ideally a client would also approach their solicitor to check what is needed to sell their property.
What Do I Need?
The documents required to sell a property will vary depending on the type of property e.g. sales of land should have less requirements than a newly constructed dwelling. I would tend to break down the requirements under three headings:
a) Title Documents
It is somewhat obvious that you will need to show title to the property that you are selling. Many clients believe that they hold the title deeds to the property themselves only to be advised that some documents are missing.
When issuing a Contract for Sale a solicitor will also need satisfactory title documents to show not only the clients right to sell the property but proper rights of access to the property and services. There have been changes to the law in recent years with regard to rights of ways and easements which could have implications on a sale of property and a client may not be aware of these until s/he instructs a solicitor to carry out the sale.
Planning documents also form part of the title deeds. It is important to have a copy of all relevant planning permissions and an Architect’s Certificate of Compliance with Planning Permissions and Building Regulations. Further documents may also be required to show compliance with conditions of any planning permission.
Some clients may have constructed a dwelling or building themselves and/or carried out developments to the property since their acquisition. Therefore, the original title documents that they hold for the property may be somewhat outdated and further documents may need to be obtained.
Finally, if a client has an outstanding mortgage on the property the title deeds are likely to be held by their bank. It can take time, sometimes a number of weeks, for deeds to be released by a bank. It may be worthwhile asking your client to take up the deeds to make copies of anything required for a sale to avoid any delays when a buyer is sourced
b) Regulatory Documents
- Vendors and property owners have had further obligations introduced in recent years.
It is a statutory obligation before the advertisement for sale of a residential or commercial property for a vendor to obtain a Building Energy Rating (BER) Certificate.
- If your property is serviced by a Septic Tank then there is an obligation to register the Septic Tank with Protect Our Water (www.protectourwater.ie). A copy of the Certificate of Registration will be required for a sale.
- If selling part of a Folio or an unregistered title it is likely to be necessary to provide a Land Registry Compliant map.
c) Property Taxes
For residential properties there were three separate property taxes which continue to affect property sales:
• NPPR Charge (Non Principal Private Residence) – this has been abolished since 2013. However, it will continue to affect property transactions until 2025. If the charge applied to your property it will be necessary to obtain a Certificate of Discharge from the relevant local authority to show it has been properly paid. If the property was exempt then an application to the Local Authority is made for a Certificate of Exemption. Both types of applications can take time to obtain the necessary documents and there are differing requirements depending on the Local Authority involved.
• LPT (Local Property Tax) – This continues to apply to applicable residential properties. A vendor will be required to show that the LPT has been paid up to date for all years including the year of sale.
• Household Charge – this was a one-off charge in 2012. Evidence of payment is required for sales of residential properties and this is usually available from the LPT property history provided by Revenue.
For commercial properties the issue of rates needs to be examined with evidence of any outstanding rates dealt with before a sale completes.
Failure to Prepare, Prepare to FailTo expand on the answer to initial question of how long is the transaction going to take I would try and explain to clients that if the above documents and information is not readily available matters could be delayed and in some cases the transaction may not be able to proceed at all.
If all documents are readily available and there are no delays in them being provided to the relevant solicitors then a property transaction could be completed within any timeframe agreed by the clients. I have been involved in residential sales which have been completed within two weeks but regularly warn clients that can only occur if both parties are ready and willing to facilitate a quick sale.
If any of the above mentioned documents are unavailable then further time will be required. It may involve in engaging architect’s to prepare Certificates, carrying out searches in planning offices, seeking rights of ways or easements from neighbours or trying to regularise some matter on title. In some cases the issues cannot be resolved or what is more common they cannot be resolved in a timeframe that is acceptable to the proposed purchaser. Some purchasers will wait to matters are regularised because they really want to buy the property. But equally some purchasers will withdraw their offer and seek another property because it does not suit them to wait.
Therefore, to avoid the disappointment of a sale falling through it is important for those thinking or actively selling a property to ask themselves “Am I ready to sell?” If there is any doubt in this regard it would be worthwhile to arrange an appointment with their solicitor to carry out a review of their title.
Please feel free to contact Sweeney McHugh Solicitors in relation to any queries that you may have in relation to a property transaction to include carrying out a review of title.