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: http://www.myspace.com/galwaywatercrisis and here http://www.google.ie/search?hl=en&q=galway+Cryptosporidiosis+2008

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 : http://www.acornwater.com/showprod.php?id=48

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 - http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=galway&ie=UTF8&ll=53.445535,-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 : http://www.anpost.ie/AnPost/MainContent/Personal+Customers/Managing+Mail/redirection.htm

Friday, May 2, 2008

Get a forwarding address

Here is something you will not be too focused on when you buy a house, but which is very important to do: get a forwarding address for the people who sell it to you.

Why do you need it?

1. For them, so you can forward their post.
2. For you, so you can ask things like 'what day are the bins collected?'
3. For the ESB, to allow you to fill out a change of ownership form for the account.
4. For telephone company if you are transfering a line.

There are a load of other reasons, so if you can at all get one. If not you can always use their solicitor.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Step 15 : Insurance

Before your bank or building society will issue your cheque you will need to get two forms of insurance sorted out.

The first is life insurance,and the second is home insurance.

For the life assurance you have two main options: term insurance or life insurance. Term insurance gives you more cover, but costs slightly more. What it is is insurance of a fixed amount for a fixed length of time (usually the term length of your mortgage). If (God forbid!) you should die before the length of the mortgage the entire amount covered is paid out. So, for example if you have a 500k mortgage and take out term insurance, but over the years you'd paid back 90% and then die, whoever you leave your estate to will get 90% back as the full 500k will be paid out (so 10% to pay rest of mortgage, and 450k left over). Term insurance costs a little more, but as you can see it pays a lot more later on too.

Home insurance is very important, as your mortgage provider will not issue your cheque without it.

One VERY IMPORTANT bit of advice is to get the home insurance to be started a few days before you close the sale. We were caught with that. Our close date was a Friday and we got our insurance to start on the Friday. But on the Tuesday when our solicitor asked the bank to issue the cheque they said no, as we didn't have insurance in place. So, we had to get it moved forward to start a couple of days earlier. Not a big deal, but it was a major stress at a time when we were highly strung already.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Step 14: Contract deposit

This happens at the same time as step 13, but I thought I'd make another step of it to make sure you notice it.

When you sign your contracts you will also need to pay the rest of your deposit. This is standard at 10%, but it is usually possible to negotiate it down - for example if you get a 92 or 95% mortgage you may only want to pay 5 or 8% as the deposit and have the rest come directly from your mortgage. Once you have a valid reason your solicitor should be able to agree this with the vendors solicitor.

As this is generally delivered as a bank draft (not a cheque), it is a good idea to arrange the bank draft before you sign (a day or two should be enough time, but you should confirm this with your bank as they differ).

Step 13: Contracts

The next step is the first legally binding one: Contracts.

The vendors (people selling) will draw up contracts of sale with their solicitor. This is a long document - about 30 pages roughly - which has a hell of a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo which all comes down to "We give you cash, you give us house".

What they send is a draft contract, and they send that directly to your solicitor. Your solicitor will usually send you some notes on it and maybe some questions. For example, ours asked us to check the land registry documents referred to the right land with the engineer who did our survey.

Normal procedure is that you will go into your solicitors office and sign both the loan offer (see step 12) and your sale contracts at the same time in their presence. They send these back to the vendor with a bank draft for your outstanding deposit (Step 14). Usually at this point your solicitor will confirm the charge for their service - the start of your money disappearing!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Check your loan offer

This may seem very obvious, but it is so important that I am writing a post about it.

You will recieve a copy of your loan offer to sign and return, along with a number of related documents. Be sure to check all the details - especially the address. We got ours the other day and realised that the address of the house we are buying in Galway was spelt incorrectly. Initial thought was that it wouldn't matter, but it turned out we needed to get the offer re-issued, causing a few days delay.

It is very important to ensure that your names, all amount, and all addresses are spelt correctly. It is up to you to do this as it is you who is signing up for the loan.
The last thing we wanted was a delay, but we are delighted to have noticed now while we have time to rectify it rather than when we are signing contracts, or even closing. Luckily we have a great mortgage adviser who was able to get it re-issued in 48 hours.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Step 12: Formal loan offer

Once your valuation has been done, your next step is to get your formal loan offer letter from your bank or building society.

If you are using a mortgage broker they will take care of this step for you, or if you are organising your mortgage directly with a bank/building society you just need to contact them and ask them to do it for you.

At this stage they will again want to check your financial details, and may ask you for bank statements for the period between your initial approval in principle and now. It took about 4 working days for us, which I believe is normal. However it can take a little longer so allow about 2 weeks.

You will be sent a copy, and your solicitor will also be sent a copy. It is quite a big document, but it is well worth reading through it all to be sure you know what you are getting. Your solicitor or mortgage broker should be able to answer any questions you have.

The copy your solicitor receives will ask them to proceed with the legal formalities and will usually give you 30 days to do so. Hopefully your contracts will arrive about the same time as your letter of offer.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Step 11 - valuation

So, you have got your engineers report back and it says everything is above board. Well done! You are well on the way. Maybe it brought up a few small issues - if so you can consider going back to the vendor (seller) and seeing if you can wrangle a better deal.

Next step, when you have informed your mortgage broker or building society is for a valuation to be done. This costs an average of €150 to be done and they will have a list of valuers available (they will generally select one themselves). These can be auctioneers in the area, or engineers, so do not be surprised if it is someone you have already had dealings with. Prices actually vary here, so if it is possible you can try to get a few quotes. We paid €130, but got a different quote of €180 so there is definitely a bit of difference in the prices you can get.

There is very little for you to do in this step. Provide the mortgage broker with the selling auctioneers details (or if it is a person selling directly their details) and they will sort out a time to do it. Generally this takes up to a week. This is very important as it tells the mortgage people that the house is worth what you have said it is - making sure their money is safe!

When this is done, the valuer will send the valuation to your mortgage people and they will let you know. At that stage they will start the process of moving your approval in principle to be a formal offer.

Don't keep contacting your Solicitor

When you are sale agreed (if not beforehand too) you will be in contact with your solicitor. This is an essential part of the process, but you should try to cover as much ground every time you are in contact.

Solicitor costs are one of the big costs of buying a house, so it is important to keep them as small as possible, and you will be charged fro EVERYTHING they do - be it a photocopy of a document, or sending you an email. For me, working in IT I am used to sending and receiving hundreds of emails every day, so would tend to send them without thinking. Until I realised that each individual reply I get I will be charged for.

Now, by this I am not suggesting you don't make proper contact, just that if you are mailing to tell them the sale is agreed, maybe include the contents list in the same mail, the engineers report if you have it already, and maybe the auctioneers details or the vendors details - basically, whatever info you have at hand. The more concise and detailed you are the less communication needed and so the less costs incurred.

Also remember the solicitor is working for you - so get them to do what you want, but at the same time, be sure to tell them all you want done as many will not take it upon themselves to do so without being told.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Details for auctioneer when sale agreed

When you reach an agreement on a price with the vendor (people selling - although you usually negotiate with the auctioneer and don't actually negotiate with the seller directly) you then need to provide the auctioneer with some details:

1. A cheque for the deposit (some take a bank transfer or bank draft but mostly it will be a cheque. You should send this by registered post, unless you can easily deliver it in person.

2. Give the auctioneer your full name(s) for contracts. This is important especially if you have an abbreviated first name (Joe = Joseph) or a hard to spell surname. I'm sure you get the idea! This can speed up the contracts.

3. Your current address.

4. Your solicitors details.

Then you should get an engineers report done and inform your bank or mortgage broker that you have agreed a sale.

Monday, February 25, 2008

View 'em all!

We took another trip down to the West, and were blessed with some excellent Sun for the 5 days. Over 4 days (no viewings on Sundays) we managed to squeeze in 14 viewings.

Phew! Bloody exhausting.

But I would recommend strongly doing the same, especially if you are buying in a different location to where you are based. For us, it was getting very tiring to go up and down from Dublin to Galway every weekend or two, to see one or two new places, so we build up a load and made a proper, trip out of it.

What should you do if you are viewing a load of places?
  • Print out everything you can get on each place. You may not be near a computer/printer while viewing.

  • Staple it together (you'd be surprised how many sheets of paper are now floating around the back of my car!).

  • Staple a list of questions and feedback space to each. We did a standard set and photocopied for each viewing.

  • Space the viewings so you have about half an hour to sit, think and discuss each one - but still allowing yourself enough time to drive the distance between viewings.

  • Draw a floor plan after the viewing and fill out your notes on each one before the next. It may seem fresh in your mind but after 5 in a day they soon start to merge together!

  • See them all. I can't emphasize this enough. We thought we had decided after the first two, but changed our minds on the last day when we saw an unexpected last house on the last morning and decided we loved that more than any of the others.

  • Don't rule the rest out if you decide on one. My next post will explain that one.

  • Stay calm and if you are a couple buying together then remember you are a couple and don't get mad with each other because you are tired etc., as it is very very exhausting.

  • Do spend the few quid to stay in a hotel as you need the rest and luxury to keep focused on the task at hand.

And best of luck with it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Book early to view

We are planning a few days of looking at places to buy at the moment and one thing we have realised is that you can't turn around on a Wednesday and book to view that Saturday.

You'd think sellers would be falling over themselves to make it easy for you to view and possibly buy their houses, but in actual fact there are some places we have been trying to confirm bookings with for over a week now. So - if you want to make the most of your viewing time it is best to try to book well in advance.

For timing, we have also found the optimum timing is to make the bookings 1.5 hours apart (unless they are over 30 mins apart in distance). This allows an hour for viewing, which is a lot but you have to allow for the estate agent being late! Then it is good to have about 10 or 15 mins to write down your feelings and observations on the place, and answers you got for your questions. DO write this down immediately as there is nothing worse than spending a day viewing 3 or 4 places and finding that by the evening you can't remember which had that big bathroom or the smelly farmyard downwind.

Hope you find what you're looking for!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Make a wide search and close it down

If you are (for example) looking for a 3 bedroom detached house, 10 miles from Galway, then you would probably find about 10 to 30 houses fitting this criteria.

We have been trying to find an exact match to our criteria, and while we initially found it (one sale fell though) it is now proving harder.

To solve this issue what we have tried now is to widen the search - say for the above example, we would be going 5 to 15 miles and 2 to 4 bedrooms, and including semi detached and bungalows. This would instead bring a result of maybe 200 properties.

So, now you have 200 properties and still no match? Well, not exactly.

Going through all 200 will take time, but lets face it - this is our home we are talking about so a few hours or days is small potatoes.

What's the reason? Well, as you go through 200 properties you do a few things;

  1. Find out what you like in each house

  2. Find new things you like that you had not thought of

  3. Get a good idea of what is available for what price range (You'd be surprised how many 5 beds cost the same as 3 beds!)

  4. Maybe reconsider your options - maybe you can afford a bigger place, or will be happy in a smaller, and maybe 5 miles further out is worth the saving

While you go through the larger search you eliminate what is not to your liking, and eventually (many hours banging head against wall later) will have cut it down to a small enough number to be able to go see them. My bet is that the shortlist will have some that would not have been on your initial list.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Research the area you plan move to

If like us you are moving to a new city or town, it is very important to research the area well. This would seem like an obvious one to me, but the more I have talked to people who have moved to new towns, the more I find out just upped and went without checking what they were letting themselves in for.

Our destination is Galway, so we have used the Internet to start. Sites which we found good are -

These and other sites will give you a good start, but also drive around the area you want to live in. Be sure to try both on and off peak - you don't want to move in and then find it is the biggest traffic bottle neck in the country at rush hour!

Check for farms if you are rural. The noise of a creamery or smell of a pig sty can ruin your dream country get-away.
If you are in the city, maybe drive through on a weekend night to check there are not a gang of kids drinking at the end of your road.

When you have found the right house, be sure to check that it has the essentials you want: water (mains or group scheme, and if group scheme how much per year?), electricity, phone, broadband (you can check the line with the phone number on BT and Eircom sites) and also see if the heating is solid fuel, gas, or oil.

OK, I could go on forever with the list. My point is - research pays off hugely.

I think there is definitely going to be something that we will discover after we move, but at least if we invest the time now you will not see too many pasts here titles "Why did we move???" in a few months!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

No emotions without keys

I am speaking from experience here.

Don't let yourself get emotionally attached to a property until you have the keys in your hand. With our house we were already planning where we would put furniture, and thinking of layout/colours. Even the way I just said 'our house' shows how easy it is to get attached.

For us the issue is to do with planning laws, but everyone I have talked to has a story of sellers deciding not to sell or selling to someone else for higher price. It is heart-wrenching to be so close to owning a home and starting on that adventure, only to find you have to go back to the drawing board.

It is hard, but try to separate yourself emotionally from the purchase until you have closed the sale and have keys in your hand.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Step 10: Engineers report

This is something you do not need to do, but our experience has shown it is vital you do.

An engineers report is where you hire an engineer to check the property you are going to buy. They give it a thorough run through and also check the property matches the planning application.

We had been told this was going to cost us between €400 and €650 euro, but when we actually called up a guy he did it for €200 and has done an excellent job. (If you need on in the Galway area contact me and I will send you details).

Anyhow - our experience is a bit crap.

Yesterday the engineer rang to let us know he did the report and it was in the post. Apparently the planning laws for large parts of Galway and the West tie new builds to a clause where they must be owner occupied for a number of years (in our case 10). As the house we want to buy is not that old we can't simply buy it. Instead the seller would have to sort it out that they can sell it. So - the relatively smal expense of getting an engineers report meant we saved a hell of a lot of costs later, and so have withdrawn our offer.

There were also some other details which didn't match the planing application so all in all I would highly, highly recommend getting an engineers report.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Step 9: Get a solicitor

A very important step is to get a solicitor. Once your offer is accepted you will need to have this sorted out pretty fast, so you may want to do it earlier. I am just telling you what we did....

There are two sorts of solicitors as far as I can tell. Those who do a fixed cost and those who are more variable. At the end of the day you usually get what you pay for. We had picked out a couple of fixed cost ones - average basic fee was 1000 and outlays (what they have to pay on your behalf) of about 700. So, we were looking at around 1700 with them.

But after talking to a few people we were told that this was the basic service and they would charge us for every little thing and it would be much higher. In the end we decided to go with a firm who have a good reputation. I got a quote and it was about 500 higher, but so far we have found them very good. Of course we have not even signed contracts yet, so it is a bit soon to say for definite.

Whatever road you decide to go for, be sure to do it in time. Both the auctioneer/estate agent, and also your mortgage provider, will want to know who it is.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Step 8: Pay the booking deposit

When the offer is accepted you will be asked by the estate agent to pay a booking deposit. This is totally refundable (or should be, so make sure!) and acts as a sort of goodwill gesture to the seller. However, it does not guarantee the sale. This is the point where people are 'gazumped' - meaning the seller sells to another buyer for a higher price even though you have paid the booking deposit. I am not aware of a method of stopping or safeguarding against this, but I guess a speedy signing of contracts is the best bet.

The booking deposit can be anything from €2000 to 3% of the buying price. I am not sure what the rules or standards are here. We were asked for 3%. I have heard that it is good to do this through your solicitor - I guess for more formality.
We had not chosen our solicitor so just transferred directly to the estate agent. We have not signed contracts yet so I can't tell you much more yet...

Step 7: Tell the banks and solicitors

When you make an offer (AND IT IS ACCEPTED) you have to tell the people you are getting a mortgage off - a bank, or else a mortgage broker.

You also need to find a solicitor (if you don't have one already) and tell them your offer has been accepted.