Friday, June 21, 2013

Some terminology for the perspective home buyer

Annualised Percentage Rate (APR)The term annual percentage rate (APR), also called nominal APR, and the term effective APR, also called EAPR, describes the interest rate for a whole year (annualized), rather than just a monthly fee/rate, as applied on a loan, mortgage loan, credit card, etc. It is a finance charge expressed as an annual rate.In general:
  • The nominal APR is the simple-interest rate (for a year). The nominal APR is calculated as: the rate, for a payment period, multiplied by the number of payment periods in a year.
  • The effective APR is the fee+compound interest rate (calculated across a year).
Annuity MortgageThis is another term for a standard capital and interest repayment mortgage. 

Closing/Completion: This is when you pay the balance of the purchase price and in return receive the keys to the house.  Certain documents will also have to be signed.  These arrangements will be made by us in conjunction with the other parties involved I the transaction. Barring any problems you now own the hosue and can move in any time you like. 

Contracts: Legal documents which set out all the details of the transaction for the transfer of ownership of the house.  These will be drawn up by the solicitor for the seller. Your solicitor will review these and talk through them with you, but it is important you read yourself too. For example, do you want to have a clause added to stop the seller gazumping you (see below)? Are you happy with the clause in it about your deposit being forfeited if you withdraw? Is there an item allowing you to pull out if engineers report finds faults?

Conveyancing: Legal process for transferring the ownership of property and land. 

Deposit: Initial down-payment for a house.  Payable to the seller of the house, usually an auctioneer or an estate agent.  It will generally be 10% of the agreed purchase price, but this is negotiable. 

Disbursements (conveyancing and outlay)The cost your solicitor has to pay to carry out their work such as searches, Registration fee, photocopying, postage and couriers. 
They, in turn, will charge you.  

Engineers ReportA full inspection of property to check that it is structurally sound including having planning permission and being built to spec, signed off by planners, etc. 

Family Home (Statutory) Declaration: This is a sworn statement required by the Buyer’s lender, and the buyer’s solicitor.  It clarifies the ownership of the house and declares that it was used as a family home or not.  In the case of  marriage separation/divorce, sections of Separation/Divorce Agreement would be produced. 

GazumpingWhen the person selling a property cancels their agreement on an offer from one buyer in order to accept the higher price of another offer.This isn't normal now, but happened a lot during the Celtic Tiger years. Although rare, you should be prepared for it.

HomeBondThis is a service provided by the National Housing Building Guarantee Scheme, through registered builders, to people buying new, privately built houses and apartments.  The certificate id called ‘HB47’ and it provides:
  • A guarantee against losing your deposit if the builder goes into bankruptcy or liquidation
  • A 10 year Defect Warranty against major structural faults which happen within 10 years of completion
  • A 2 year Defect Warranty against water and smoke damage after completion.
There are three main types of insurances associated with a mortgage.
They are:

  • Life Assurance:  This is compulsory if you are taking out a mortgage.
    There are two main types of life assurance;
    Mortgage Protection:  This means the amount outstanding on your homeloan will be repaid in the event of your death.  The amount that is paid out reduces in line with your mortgage over the years.
    Term Assurance:  This is life assurance that does not reduce during the term of the loan.  In the event of death, the mortgage is repaid and the rest of the money goes into the estate.
  • House Insurance:  This is also compulsory for those taking out a mortgage.  This insures you against damage to your home, up to and including rebuilding your home should it be destroyed.
  • Mortgage Payment Protection:  This form of insurance is not compulsory.  If you cannot work because of an accident, illness or because you have been made redundant, this policy will cover the repayments on your mortgage (and more if you wish) for a period of time, usually up to 12 months.
This is simply the cost of borrowing money.  If the rate was 10% per annum and you borrowed €100 for the year, the interest payable would be €10.  Another way of saying this is that the cost of borrowing €100 for the year is €10.
Interest rates can be either:

  • Fixed:  A loan where the payments are based on a constant interest rate for a set period of time
  • Variable or Tracker:  This means that the interest rate charged on the mortgage can go up and down over the term of the mortgage. If a tracker is available, jump on it!
Interim Interest
As soon as you draw your loan, interest begins to accrue.  However, the first mortgage payment only falls due on the following month.  The interest that accrues between you receiving the money and the first repayment is known as interim interest.  This can be paid at the time or added to the loan. 

Land Registry FeeA fee paid to the Land Registry to update and entry in their records after you buy your home.  This fee will be included in the legal costs charged by your solicitor.  

Loan application FeeThis may be charged by your Broker for processing you mortgage application. Can be negotiated. 

Loan to Value (LTV)The amount you wish to borrow expressed as a percentage of the value of the property. 

Mortgage Indemnity Bond
A type of insurance that cover the lender in the event that they make a loss on the sale of a repossessed property.  It normally comes into effect when the loan amount exceeds 75% of the purchase price or property value. 

Mortgage RedemptionThis is the amount of money still to be paid to your Financial Institution on the remainder of the loan for the property being sold.  This will normally be paid from the proceeds of the sale of your property. 

Registration of TitleThe title deeds are registered in the Registry of Deeds or in the Land Registry.  The cost of this will be included in your outlays. 

SearchesThese will be carried out on the day the transaction is due to be completed. They will determine whether any judgements have been registered on the property or against the sellers.  It will also indicate whether there are any planning restrictions or planning changes. The searches are carried out by a firm of law searchers under our instruction. 

Security/ CollateralThe mortgage is secured against your home.  A mortgage lender is entitled to sell the house if you do not make the necessary repayments. 

Stamp DutyThis is a tax paid to the government when you purchase property. Currently first time buyers are exempt (Up to 1 million in value if I remember rightly).

Structural SurveyA full inspection of property to check that it is structurally sound. See my section on Engineers report.

ValuationAn inspection, carried out by a qualified valuer, for the benefit of the mortgage lender to see if the property will provide good security for a loan.  This is not a structural survey – see above.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Price come down - quality of life stays high

I laugh to myself when I look at the poll we had there on the Irish housing market crashing. Little did I know.

But as these times of doom and gloom continue I have to let you into a little secret: life in Galway is still bloody amazing.

Yes, we have the same taxes, the same dodgy bankers, and the occasional ghost estate sitting on NAMAs to-do list, but when you get right down to it the basics of life in the West of Ireland are still fantastic.

All the lovely countryside is still there to enjoy, the lake, the seaside, the mountains and the bogs - all there in serene beauty. The fish still jumping in the rivers and lakes, the craic still there in the pubs (and you can find a seat unlike in the capital), and people are still living life at a pace where they will happily share a few words as they pass. I'm not trying to paint old De Valera's image of comely maidens dancing at the crossroads, but the basics are there, even if they are listening to i-Pods now.

At the moment there are job losses and lots of them, but there are also new job openings in Galway. A few new tech firms are opening or expanding and the medical devices sector still has a massive presence in the city. You are competing with a lot of people for jobs - just like in the rest of the country - but if you live here in the West of Ireland you have the bonus of, well, living here.

And then there is the core subject of this blog: homes. At the moment house prices have fallen hugely. This is not a surprise to you, and is only really good news to the first time buyer who is able to arrange one of the very few new mortgages being offered. As the saying goes - every cloud has a silver lining - and even in the collapse of all we came to know there is some positives in the housing collapse. Lets look at a few scenarios.

You may have a home in Dublin or elsewhere with hug negative equity, and need to downsize. This is actually a great opportunity to get back to the core things that it is about - home, family and quality of life. Is moving from a 5 bed in a congested city to a 2 or 3 bed in the countryside really such a bad thing? It is what a lot of us dreamt of all through the boom.

Or if you have lost a job and need to downsize and find new work - is this the time to move somewhere where you can enjoy the free wonders the West can offer? Tourist amenities like Lough Corrib, the Connemara mountains and the arty thrill of Galway city. Is it so bad to consider a job in Galway or Castlebar where you don't spend 10 hours of your week on a bus or in your car stuck in 1st gear?

And what about if you have no negative equity. No equity at all? Well, where are you going to find such a buzzing nightlife, where you don't have to fall over junkies while queuing for a taxi home? (correction: you don't even need to queue for the taxis!). Yes, Galway has it all when it comes to starting out as a homeowner, and there are truly a mass of bargains to be had.

So don't rush into anything but take some time to investigate the options; maybe a move West is just what you need to brighten up the New Year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Galway comes alive in the Summer - Volvo Ocean Race Stopover May 2009

Galway is a lively town all year round, but it really gets going as the sun starts shining.

This year is going to have a roaring start when the Volvo Ocean Race comes to town in May/June. The stopover in this International boat race is a bit of a coup for Galway - if fact, even for Ireland.

The boats will arrive in Galway after racing all the way from Boston, where they will set off this Saturday afternoon (16th May). After some rather tough sailing they will be due here in Galway on the weekend of the 23rd May (obviously they can't give exact times as this is a race dependant on wind and weather).

The stay will be for 2 weeks, with fantastic in-port racing in the middle week and departure on the final weekend of the 6th June.

Here in Galway there will be a lot going on, which will include:

For all the family - street theatre performances in the Race Village and on the Green Dragon route by Arcana, Buí Bolg, Luxe and Tumble Circus, a Promenade Beach Party, Gaeilge, Galway Community Circus, the Volvo Ocean Race experience including the simulator, model boat racing, the grinder challenge and the Dome, air display by the Red Arrows and two world record attempts.

FOR CONCERT GOERS - free concerts by the Hothouse Flowers, Sharon Shannon, Aslan, The Stunning, Kila, The Coronas, Lucia Evans and lots more...

FOR ART LOVERS - trail with 18 exhibitions around the city with a maritime theme including exhibitions and talks at Galway City Museum.

FOR FOOD LOVERS - the best of West of Ireland food at the Race Village and a good variation of cuisine on offer throughout restaurants in the city.

FOR SAILORS - see the might of the Volvo Open 70's up close and your chance to see some of the world's leading ocean sailors. Take the PUMA Mast Challenge. Participate in some fringe sailing events such as the GB09 Cruiser Championships and junior sailing events. View traditional boat racing on Galway Bay.

FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN - visit Galway on your school tour and visit the Galway Atlantaquarium

Full programme details are available on or on the Galway site on

You can also download and print your own copy of the festival planner here:

You can follow the race as a group on Facebook here:

See what they have on youtube here:

The Irish boat - The Green Dragon - can be followed here:

So, yet another reason to come live in the most lively, artistic and friendly city in Ireland!

Over the coming weeks and months I'll be telling you about the other great festivals here in Galway - the International Festival of Literature, the Galway Arts Festival (Ireland’s largest), the Oyster Festival and of course the Galway Races.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to find a house in Galway online

Lets take it you have decided to buy a house in Galway, and you have looked and followed our steps (see list in left pane). You have four main options to use when searching: use an estate agent, use property page in newspapers, use online search, or drive around looking for for sale signs.

In this post we will just look at the option of searching online.

A number of estate agents have online websites which list their current properties, and a list of some of these is at the end of the post. There are also some big sites which list for both auctioneers/estate agents and also for individual sellers.

The first step is to decide on an area where you want to buy. Even a number of areas. If you do a search for all property in Galway you will have to trudge through a huge number of unsuitable adverts which can be both tiring and disheartining - imagine the perfect house, perfect price, and then discovering in is on an island two miles of the western coast; big let down -unless that is what you are searching for, of course!

Once you have decided on the area, it is often good to widen this slightly to include the neibouing townland or villages (or suburbs if searching in the city). Some listings are not entered correctly and it would be terrible to missout on your dream home because it is listed in the wrong village.

Next decide on the type of house - detached, semi-detached, farm, bungalow, apartment.

Finally, work out the upper limit you can afford. It is a good idea to put this higher than your budget, as with the current credit crunch you may find that the listed privce is above what the seller is willing to make a sale for. Who said there was no 'up side' to a recession!?

You are now ready to make a start on the search. Using one of the sites listed below enter the criteria you have listed and click to search.

If the results are too large you can narrow the search by deciding the maximum and minimum number of bedrooms. No point getting a one bedroom apartment for a family of five! Be sure to factor in how long you think you will live in the home. If you plan on staying for a decade, ask yourself if it will be large enough for planned children, or other changes that may happen.

Some sites will allow you to register, and we recommend this as it allows you to save properties to view later. You can also set up email alerts which will email you all new properties and on some sites will also allow you to be mailed the results of a search too. This can be very handy and save you time logging onto the site a searching yourself.

Once you find somewhere you want to view you can usually email directly to the seller or agent to arrange a viewing (be sure to include reference number or full address as most agents will have a number of properties in an area).

If you find a property in an area which is similar to what you want, but not ideal, it is a good idea to contact the agent and ask them what similar properties they have.

Sites that might help you:

Auctioneer websites:

Happy searching!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shopping in Galway at Christmas

Galway city is renowned the world over as a vibrant, warm and multicultural city. It's a popular destination for Christmas shopping in Ireland, as it has everything - lively pubs, gourmet restaurants, plenty of accommodation, a weekly market, lots of shopping arcades and a terrific range of shops, so you'll have no bother finding those Christmas presents and last minute stocking fillers!

Galway city is especially welcoming over Christmas. It's located beside the sea surrounded by some of Ireland's most spectacular landscape, which helps to create the perfect scene.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, Galway has just as much to offer, as any other large city in Ireland.

Shopping in Galway is a pleasant experience as much of the city center is pedestrianised and you'll stumble upon quirky little shops, small boutiques and beautiful craft shops as you roam around its cobbled streets. Of course, you'll find all your usual high street stores and labels too.
When you visit Galway on your shopping break, be sure to visit the local market. It's normally open on a Saturday and Sunday all year round, but is usually open for about 10 days prior to Christmas and a visit here will definitely put you in the festive mood. Don't miss the opportunity to mingle with the locals as they gather to chitchat as well as do their shopping. This market has been taking place for centuries and is located next to St. Nicholas Church at the bottom of Shop Street. It's best known for its exclusive arts, crafts and mouthwatering foods prepared while you wait. Handmade chocolates, delicious crepes and Japanese Sushi are just some of the foods you'll find here.

Many of the shops in Galway city are situated on streets in the key shopping area in the centre of the city, while the shopping centres tend to be on the outskirts of the city.

Eyre Square Shopping Centre
Eyre Square Shopping Centre (found in Eyre Square!) has up to 100 shops offering everything from fashion, gifts, jewellery, books, sport, department stores and restaurants.
The shops pull out all the stops at Christmas with elaborate window and shop displays.
(Even if you don't buy anything - take a stroll through this shopping center and see the remains of the old city walls, which have been incorporated into the building!)

Shop Street - Galway City
Don't pass up the opportunity to saunter down the bustling Shop Street where some of the best shops are to be found. The street is a bit touristy so if you're looking for craft shops, hand made jewellery and art shops, then this is the place to go.

Latin Quarter
This street is known as High Street and the quaint cobblestoned street is filled with fascinating exclusive shops. You will find original and once off gifts here.

The Corrib Shopping Centre
There are lots of shopping centres in Galway. The Corrib Shopping Centre is not very big but is ideally located and within walking distance of Eyre Square. It has a good range of shops including Roches Stores - a large department store with everything under the one roof!

The Galway Shopping Centre
Situated on the Headford Road is the Galway Shopping Centre which has well over 100 shops including Penny's - a big hit for its trendy clothes at bargain prices. A car is recommended especially if you plan on doing lots of Christmas shopping so it's good to know there's loads of parking. If you have the kids in tow, then there's plenty to keep them occupied with the onsite Leisure Dome which incorporated a bowling alley, laser games, a play area and lots more.

Terryland Retail Park
Another shopping centre located on the Headford Road and catering for people looking for specialist shops and unique gifts.

Galway at Christmas

If you are thinking of moving to Galway, the ideal time to dip your toes in the water is right now.

With Christmas around the corner the city is buzzing. You really get the feel for how friendly everyone is, be it the shop assistant who still as time to chat to you (unlike the impersonal rush in the capital), or the craic on Shop Street and the surrounding pubs. You can experience first hand the way Galway offers the ideal balance of life in a city, while still in the countryside.

All the small towns in the county are coming alive and welcoming back home their sons and daughter who live or work away. Pubs roar with the craic of friends and familise sharing tales of shared experiences, old and new. See Headford with it's main street lit up, Claregalway full of shoppers and Athenry with the bustle of old friends returned to visit.

A few of the events on in the city this Christmas are listed here:


Galway Bay On Ice1st December 2008 - 11th January 2009

Galway Bay On Ice is back and its even better than last year. Visitors can expect to see Galway's Spanish Arch transformed into one of Ireland's premier Christmas attractions with one massive 700m2 ice rink and a festive Christmas Market to enjoy.
The kids can even fine tune their skating skills at this year's "Skate School," and become the envy of all their friends. This magical event is ideal Christmas fun for the whole family. They have full catering facilities on site too!
Open 7 days a weekWeekdays 10am - 10pm

Weekends 10am - 10pm

Nimo's Pier, Spanish Arch, Galway.


Open Traditional Irish Music Session - The Western Hotel Galway
Every Thursday between 11 Dec 2008 and 18 Dec 2008
33 Prospect Hill, Galway City


Trad on the Prom Christmas Cabaret Dinner & Show at The Ardilaun

The Christmas Cabaret which takes place on Wednesday 10th December includes a mulled wine reception drink on arrival, 4 course buffet dinner, and 2 hours of music, song and dance, and it makes for one great evening. All for just €65 per person, tickets now available for sale at the Ardilaun. Join up with your colleagues and friends – parties of any size can be catered for, special discounts apply for group bookings and a night to remember is guaranteed. Why not check in and stay overnight with a special rate of just €105 per person sharing to include a luxurious nights stay with a Hearty Irish Breakfast to follow, or if you prefer two nights for €149 per person sharing. As space is limited, please call the Christmas Party Line on: 091-519794.


Traditional Music Session - The Shamrock Bar, Roundstone

Every Saturday between 06 Dec 2008 and 28 Feb 2009
Venue: Roundstone, Connemara, Galway
Phone: +353 95 35760


NUI Galway Arts Office Lunchtime Christmas Concertfeaturing the ConTempo Quartet and NUI Galway Choral Society. Admission free.

Date: Thursday, 09 December 2004

Location: Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUI Galway

Time: 13.10


Galway is such a fantastic city to visit and when you arrive here on your pre Christmas shopping break you'll know what we mean. It's a paradise of lively pubs, shops, and restaurants, with friendly faces and a warm atmosphere. And when you're finished your Christmas shopping in Galway city, you can explore top attractions like Connemara, the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The other type of water: rain and flooding

With the current torrential downpours across Ireland I though it a good time to point out another thing that should be checked before buying a house in Galway (applies across the country too): flooding.

Galway and it's surrounding counties get a fair share of rain and this is something you should take into account when buying a house. If you are viewing in the Summer it is a good idea to walk right around the plot and see if there are swampy bits of the garden. If there are, then imagine how they will be when it has rained solidly for six weeks!

Watch out for other tell-tale risk signs - is there a river close to your house that has a soft margin (is not walled in)? Are you close to a lake which has history of flooding?

A handy way to find out about past flooding in the area is a simple google search for the place name and the word "flood".

In general you are pretty safe if your house is on an elevated site, and this usually means you have a better view too! Of course, an elevated site can be more exposed to wind too, so balance all the factors and be sure you are getting the house you want.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Water water everywhere...

..but not a drop to drink. So goes the saying, and it is something to consider when moving anywhere rural.

Living in cities we can be forgiven for forgetting that the nice clean drinkable water we enjoy is not available countrywide. Due to contamination of water (by either animal or human waste) there is a boil order in place for some parts of County Galway at the moment (Summer/Autumn 2008). You can find specific details here: and here

I use this as an example only to emphasize that it is important that you ensure you have a good quality water supply. If the house you intend buying is going to be part of a group water scheme contact the scheme administrator/secretary and ask if there is any upgrade work due to happen, what quality the water is, and if there is or will be meters put in. And of course you will probably want to find out the annual cost, and include this in your sums to work out if you can afford to live there.

If the house has a well, it is well (sorry!) worth the cost of taking a sample and having it tested for quality. If the current owner is reluctant to let you do so, then this should raise your suspisions!

For €85 (at time of writing) you can send off the sample to this crowd for testing :

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A home is a garden too

When moving to Galway you need to consider maintenance when you see your new garden.

Our house is on about half an acre. That's a lot of grass. No problem. But....(there's always a but)...we never thought about a garage to store a mower, a rake, shears, etc. etc.

So, if you are buying a house consider the size of the garden, how long it will take you to cut and manage, and where you will store whatever you need to do that.

On a separate note about gardens - considering the recent downpours throughout Ireland, be sure to also check your garden and house are not in the floodplains of a river or lake. Google maps can be handy for finding what waterways are near you -,-9.063721&spn=1.452647,3.383789&t=h&z=8&iwloc=addr

Also consider how much time you will actually get to spend in the garden. If you can't spare the time to manage it, do you want the extra expense of having to get someone in to do it?

A garden is a big commitment. This is especially true when you have just moved to a new city, or even if you just need to get your first house to the stage you can call it home. It takes time, and if you are based in Galway that means a lot of gaps between showers too!

On the other side of that, a big garden which is well laid out and maintained can add vastly to the value of your house, as well as how much you can enjoy it.

Summary: when you make your list of things to consider when finding a home, be sure to include your ideal garden - be that small or large, paved or bedded.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Change all your own addresses, and forward your mail

When you buy your house, and move down to Galwya you are on cloud nine, but there are a million things to be done. Over the next while I am going to list them all.

The first is to change the addresses on all the mail you recieve. Here is a list of some you may need to change:

  • Bank account
  • Driving license
  • Car tax/registration
  • Car insurance
  • Friends - your Christmas card list
  • Tax office
  • AA

We decided to take the safe route and used An Post's redirection service. It lasts for 3 months and they will forward all your mail to your new address. Here are the costs from An Posts website today:

Residential In Ireland (fee per redirection)
Up to 3 months

Up to 6 months

Up to 12 months

You can check their latest prices here :