Buying or selling a property in Ireland-how long does the process take?

“How long does the process take?” This is a question I am frequently asked by a purchaser or seller of a property.

And the answer is-yes, you have guessed it-it depends. Let me explain.

Let’s assume I am acting for the purchaser of a second hand property. The first thing that must happen is the vendor’s solicitor will draw up contracts and send them, along with the copy title documents referred to in the contract, to me.

However, the vendor’s solicitor may, for a variety of reasons, be slow in doing so. 

For example she may be waiting to receive the title documents from the lender who holds them as security. Or she may be waiting for some other document or certificate to be provided before he will issue the contracts to me-for example the BER certificate or certificate of exemption or discharge for NPPR tax.

During this time there is nothing that I can do to speed up the process. I cannot act on my own, it does take two, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Once I receive the contracts and copy title documents I will raise pre-contract queries about anything arising from what has been provided and any other relevant questions about which I need to be satisfied. 

Once I raise these queries and send them to the vendor’s solicitor I am again completely dependent on the speed of response of the vendor’s solicitor. This is a further point in the process at which I am at the mercy of something that is entirely outside my control.

Then, let’s assume that my client is borrowing money from a lender. The lender’s requirements and pre conditions will have to be fulfilled before the loan money is released. 

These requirements will include the completion by my client of a direct debit mandate, the organisation of a life assurance policy, home insurance being in place, and possibly other matters that need to be organised. The lender will not release the loan funds unless everything is in order.

This is a further factor over which I have no control and which can contribute greatly to delays and hold ups.

When it comes to the completion stage the potential delays will be, on the purchaser’s side, the release of the loan funds to the purchaser’s solicitor. 

And the vendor’s solicitor will need to organise and schedule all closing documents, get the vendor in to sign statutory declarations and the deed of transfer, and send them to the purchaser’s solicitor to be held in trust pending completion of the transaction.

At various stages of the process both buyer’s solicitor and seller’s solicitor are entirely dependent on the other side. And the solicitor will be dependent on his client and possibly other bodies or organisations-for example a bank or the local authority.

For these reasons it is impossible to be precise in answering the question of how long a conveyance will last from start to finish. However, as a reasonable and realistic average you are probably looking at 6 to 8 weeks.