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.