Property Law Property Purchases and Sales

How to Negotiate Successfully-10 Tips for Effective Negotiations

negotiation tactics

Many people do not like to negotiate or haggle. But it is essential in our daily lives and we are regularly forced to negotiate whether we like it or not.

It may be with a loved one, with a child, with a service worker at an airline desk, with a receptionist in a hotel, with a Judge or member of an Garda Siochána, with a referee on a sports pitch, with an adjudicator at a WRC hearing, or when you are buying something like a car or a house or business.

If you accept this, you might as well learn how to do it successfully and for the best possible outcome.

I have negotiated to buy and sell property for over 30 years and I have learned, through practice and research, some useful tactics to the best results.

Let’s look at what I have learned, shall we, in the context of buying a house?

1. Listen carefully and aggressively to the other side

You need to listen very carefully to what the other side is saying because you will usually pick up some vital clue as to the other party’s real position-their real position as opposed to what the auctioneer says is the reason for sale. You may not meet the vendors themselves but if you do it is a good opportunity to pick up some vital clues about the property and the motivation for sale.

You need to practice the same aggressive listening skills when speaking with the auctioneer and the staff working in his/her office. It is amazing what you might hear in an unguarded moment when you speak with a busy receptionist or support staff.

You may not hear anything but keep in mind you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

2. Adopt a friendly/playful voice

The tone of your voice and your general demeanour are factors in how the other side will react to you and your position. A friendly, non-threatening voice is the one I have found most helpful.

3. Tactical empathy

Showing empathy for the other party’s position is valuable and is only possible when you follow the advice in number 1 above: listen carefully to the other side.

4. Be prepared to walk away

No deal is better than a bad deal and you do need to be prepared to walk away. Splitting the difference is a lazy, misguided way of negotiating.

5. Getting to ‘no’

Forget about getting to ‘yes’ because you can very easily get to a false ‘yes’ which will not be delivered upon; you are better off getting to ‘no’ from the other side as you will have a better idea of their true position.

6. Deadlines can be an ally

You can make time your ally by recognising that even if a deadline is missed a new one can easily be introduced. Don’t rush into a bad decision, though, just to meet a deadline-let the other side worry about the deadline.

7. Stay calm

Keep your emotions in check, adopt the approach that ‘it’s just business’ and there is no need to lose the head or get carried away.

8. Most important word in negotiations

The most important word in negotiations is ‘fair’. If you tell the other side you only want what’s fair or want a fair deal you are more likely to get a deal.

9. Don’t ask ‘why’

Ask how or what questions, not ‘why’ questions. For example, ‘how am I supposed to do that?’, ‘how am I supposed to pay that much?’ Such ‘how’ questions will encourage the other party to bid against themselves and try to find a solution to your problem.

10. Arrive at a precise, specific final offer

Make whatever offer you like-something between 60% and 80% of what you are eventually prepared to pay-and increase this by reducing increments to arrive at a final specific, odd number-never an even number.

This gives the other party the impression that this is your true final offer and you have thrown everything at it to do a deal. Offer an even figure and the other party will not accept you are at your limit.


Negotiation is not an art that you cannot learn, or which is only something that you can do naturally and you are a born haggler. Far from it. There is a science to negotiating, too, and following the 10 tips above will help you getter better deals. Over time you will get better and better at it.

Good luck!

Property Law

Buying a House or Apartment in Ireland-From Start to Finish in Plain English

Are you thinking about buying a house or apartment in near future? Are you wondering what is involved in the process?

That is precisely what I am going to look at in this piece, and I am going to explain it in plain English.


The first step is to find the right property for you and your particular circumstances. I have looked before at some of the factors you may consider as being the most important for you. (You can read 7 tips to simplify your house purchase here).

Once you have found the property you want and fits in your budget you will need to let the auctioneer and the lender know who your solicitor is. This will allow the auctioneer send out the sales advice note to both solicitors which will set out the basic terms of the transaction. These basic terms will include the price, the vendor and purchaser, any contents, expected closing date, and the solicitors acting for the vendor and purchaser. (When you are negotiating these negotiation tips have served me well over the years).

You will be expected to pay a booking deposit to the auctioneer which will secure the property. This deposit is refundable and is not to be confused with the contract deposit. (You can read about the difference between booking deposits and contract deposits here).

Before paying your booking deposit you should also consider the overall financing of the transaction and ensure you consider certain outlays such as stamp duty and property registration authority fees. (Read about all the costs and outlays involved in your purchase here).

Once the sales advice note is issued by the auctioneer the vendor’s solicitor will draw up a contract and prepare the copy title documents which will be sent to your solicitor for his review and consideration.

Your solicitor will then raise pre-contract enquiries about any issues which arise such as planning permission, building regulations, local property tax, sewerage, water supply, road abutting the property being in charge, and other issues.

It is only when your solicitor has received satisfactory replies to these enquiries that you will be asked to sign the contract and pay the balance of the deposit, assuming you have finance in place and not just approval in principle.

This balance of the deposit will be 10% of the purchase price less any booking deposit you have paid.

For example, let’s say you are buying a house for €250,000. 10% of the purchase price is €25,000 so this is the contract deposit. You subtract whatever booking deposit you paid to the auctioneer (usually €5/6,000) and this is the sum due on signing the contract.

Meanwhile, prior to this point, you should have ensured that the loan offer is issued by your lender and a loan pack goes to your solicitor.

You would also be well advised to have a structural survey of the property carried out because there is no use finding problems with the property after you have signed the contract. If it is a second hand house you buy it in the condition you find it- ‘caveat emptor’ (let the buyer beware). So it is vital to ascertain what condition the house is actually in. (Here’s why a structural survey is essential before you sign the contract).

Once you sign the contracts in duplicate and your solicitor returns them to the vendor’s solicitor a binding contract will come into existence when the vendor signs the contracts and returns one part to your solicitor.

At that point you move towards completion of the transaction. This will mainly involve you checking that the lender has everything they need to allow them to release the loan cheque to your solicitor for completion of the sale. Things that hold up cheque release include failure to ensure that life assurance is in place and the benefit is assigned to the lender, failure to put home insurance in place, failure to submit a completed direct debit mandate.

As closing date approaches, your solicitor will draw down the loan from the lender, ask you for your financial contribution which will include the balance of the purchase price and outlays such as stamp duty, property registration authority fees, and other outlays. The solicitor will probably leave loan drawdown as late as possible because you are paying interest from the date of drawdown and he will be anxious to ensure you do not pay unnecessary interest on your loan.

On closing day you get the keys of your new house and your solicitor transfers the purchase price to the vendor’s solicitor and authorises release of those funds, provided you are authorised to pick up the keys from the estate agent.(Read about what happens on closing day here).

After the sale completes your solicitor will submit the Deed of Transfer, the Mortgage Deed and some other forms to the Property Registration Authority to have you registered as the new owner of the folio and to register the bank’s security.

Once that is completed your solicitor will send in the title documents together with his Certificate of Title to the lender and you start paying off the mortgage and enjoying your new property. Obviously if there is no lender involved and you are a cash buyer you will may get the title documents from your solicitor or leave them with her for safekeeping.

By the way, if you are buying in Ireland from abroad you will need to get a PPS number in order to pay your stamp duty and account for any letting income. (You can read about buying property in Ireland from abroad here).

Business and Company Law Property Law Start Your Own Business

Why Reviewing a Commercial Lease Alone is Of Limited Value

I am often asked by budding entrepreneurs to review the lease of a commercial premises which is part of a small business they are considering purchasing.

The entrepreneur, understandably, is trying to avoid as much avoidable expenditure as possible and wants the lease reviewed for a competitive fee.

I can do that, of course, without any difficulty but I have to explain that reviewing the lease alone is of extremely limited value.

Because most commercial leases emanate from a standard template or precedent lease which is widely used and accepted by solicitors in Ireland. Therefore any difficulties in the proposed acquisition of the business and taking on of the lease are unlikely to be contained within the terms, covenants, and conditions of the lease which are similar across commercial leases.

What are the dangers?

Potential problems are more likely to appear in relation to other issues outside the lease, issues like

  • Title-is there good legal title to the lease? Was the granting of the lease in the first instance in order?
  • Planning-are there any planning issues arising from the use of the premises? And any development carried out over the years, development that would have required planning permission?
  • Is the premises being used for a use permitted by the lease?
  • Rates/charges-are there any issues in respect of rates or other charges that may attach to the premises and is there any arrears for which the new occupant may become liable?
  • Is there a management company? Are there outstanding charges?
  • What condition is the premises in?
  • Are there any issues likely to arise from a fire safety perspective?
  • If the business is involved in food preparation and sales are the necessary plumbing, electrical, food preparation, refrigeration issues compliant with building regulations and any applicable food regulations?

If you are considering taking on a business in which there is a leased premises you are taking an avoidable, critical risk by not having all aspects of the lease assignment investigated.

This involves pre-lease enquiries about title, planning, rates, and so forth being properly investigated. None of these issues will be dealt with by a review of the lease alone.

Yes, it will cost you more money.

Yes, there may be no further issues.

But checking the lease on its own is of extremely limited value and if your finances cannot stretch to having the transaction carried out property, with the necessary checks and pre-lease enquiries carried out, you should seriously consider your investment.

Because you cannot afford it. You are too early and it is premature.

You might be as well going to a casino and putting all your money on red, or black.

Because the likelihood is that any problems that arise from your purchase of the business will not necessarily be contained in your lease, they will probably lie elsewhere, outside the 4 walls of the lease itself.


Property Law

Can A Deed of Variation Be a Deemed Surrender of an Existing Commercial Lease?

Are you a landlord or tenant of a commercial lease? Depending on when you entered into the lease it may provide for ‘upward only’ rent reviews.

Commercial leases from before February 2010 typically contained upward only rent reviews. This meant that the rent could only increase at each rent review date, and that is what the parties had signed up to in the first instance.

However, the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 introduced a significant change iin respect of commercial leases. Section 132 of the Conveyancing and Law Reform Act 2009, which commenced in February 2010, provided as follows:

132.— (1) This section applies to a lease of land to be used wholly or partly for the purpose of carrying on a business.

(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply where—

(a) the lease concerned, or

(b) an agreement for such a lease,

is entered into prior to the commencement of this section.

(3) A provision in a lease to which this section applies which provides for the review of the rent payable under the lease shall be construed as providing that the rent payable following such review may be fixed at an amount which is less than, greater than or the same as the amount of rent payable immediately prior to the date on which the rent falls to be reviewed

(4) Subsection (3) shall apply—

(a) notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained in the lease or in any agreement for the lease, and

(b) only as respects that part of the land demised by the lease in which business is permitted to be carried on under the terms of the lease.

The vitally important change is contained in subsection (3) which now permits the rent to stay the same or fall at rent review time. This effectively prohibits the use of ‘upward only’ rent review clauses in commercial leases from February 2010.

You will note, therefore, this significant difference between leases which were entered into prior to the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 and those signed after the commencement of this act.

Deed of variation

There is a significant consequence flowing from this act and the granting of a deed of variation between the parties after February 2010. Let me explain.

If the parties agree a deed of variation, which may deal with a reduction in the rent and other terms, it is possible that the granting of this deed will bring about a de facto surrender of the original lease. 

The consequence that flows from this, if it occurs, is that the new lease cannot contain an enforceable upward only rent review clause and the landlord will have a less valuable property interest.

And you need to understand that the intentions of the parties when entering into the deed of variation are immaterial; the fact is that if the lease term is extended you are probably looking at a new interest in the land and you can rest assured you do not have 2 leases as the first one will be a deemed surrender.

Deemed surrender

How could this deemed surrender occur?

One of the ways this can happen is if one of the terms of the old lease which is varied/changed is the term of the lease. If the term is increased, for example, there is decided UK case law which holds that if a term is increased a new legal interest in the land comes into existence and the old one, the original lease, is deemed to have been surrendered.


The law surrounding land and interests in land can be complex and requires professional legal advice. Each case must be looked at on its own particular facts and circumstances.

However, one thing is clear: should you not obtain professional advice you run the risk of making a costly mistake that can greatly affect the value of the interest you hold, either as a landlord or tenant.

Property Law

Vacant Possession in Property Transactions-What Does it Mean?

It is a condition of the standard Law Society condition that vacant possession of the property in sale will be handed over on closing. General conditions 17 states:

17. Subject to any provision to the contrary in the Particulars or in the Conditions or implied by the nature of the transaction, the Purchaser shall be entitled to vacant possession of the Subject Property on Completion.

Vacant possession disputes

Occasionally disputes can arise on handover, however, about vacant possession. It may appear self-evident and obvious what vacant possession means but situations can arise which cause tension, disputes, and bad feeling between the parties.

For example, it is obvious that a property should be clear of people but what about objects such as furniture, appliances, old beds, tables and chairs, curtains, carpets, temporary partitions?

The new owner does not want the hassle and cost of having to remove broken and worn furniture, for example, and the vendor may be happy just to let the whole lot go with the house and avoid the cost of organising a skip.

One of the problems surrounding vacant possession is that it is not defined anywhere in Irish law and there is no settled decided authority on the point.

In the UK the question has been investigated by the Courts from time to time, but each case will be decided on its own particular facts and circumstances. At its essence, however, is agreement that vacant possession means the property is free of people and chattels (objects) and the purchaser will be able to enjoy the property from day one.

It may be the case that some contents are included in the sale, and these should be agreed between the parties in advance. But anything over and above what is agreed must be removed.

The upshot is that if the vendor is not able to give vacant possession the purchaser may refuse to complete the sale. Or he may complete and bear the cost of removing rubbish, old furniture, and so forth and then sue for damages including the cost of removals.

The vendor can sue for specific performance of the contract, and completion, if the purchaser refuses to complete on the grounds that vacant possession is not being hander over. In a worst-case scenario one of the parties may seek to rescind the contract and collapse the deal.


If you are the seller it does not make much sense to allow the issue of vacant possession to scupper a sale or to cause an avoidable row to develop between you and your purchaser.

Especially if a skip or a man with a van will solve the problem.