Q– I am planning on putting my house on the market shortly. Should I wait until I get a buyer or should I contact my Solicitor now to prepare the paperwork? What documents will I need?
A – There is now a long list of documents required to enable your Solicitor prepare acceptable contracts and many of them can take time to source. The sooner that you get started on this process the better. In an ideal world what you should be trying to achieve is for your Solicitor to be in a position to issue contracts as soon as a buyer has been found. If you have a mortgage it can take about 3-4 weeks for the Bank to send the deeds to your Solicitor and then several more weeks to get the remaining necessary paperwork. Many buyers will not wait around that long and may move on to a different property if they do not receive contracts very soon after they agree a deal. Remember that you will have to prepare everything at some stage so it will not cost you anything extra to be very well organised and to prepare well in advance. It will also make the entire process work more smoothly for you and the experience will be much less stressful.
Here are some of the more important documents which you will need-
THE TITLE DEEDS- If you have a mortgage then the deeds to your house will have been retained by your Bank and will probably be physically stored off site in a warehouse somewhere in Dublin. Your Solicitor will ask you to sign a written authority to seek their return and the Bank will charge a small fee to cover the administration costs. It usually takes between 3 and 5 weeks for the deeds to arrive with the Solicitor depending on which Bank is involved. Until they are retrieved your Solicitor will not know for certain which of the further documents referred to below will be needed and which may already be with your deeds.
BUILDING ENERGY RATING CERTIFICATE (BER cert)- It is illegal to offer a house for sale without a BER certificate. If you bought the house recently this document may be with the deeds but if not you will need to commission one.
NPPR certificate- Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 as amended by the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 introduced a €200 annual charge on non-principal private residences payable to the Local Authority in the area where the residence is located. It was payable in respect of each and every property a person owned that constituted a private residence where that residence was not the owner’s principal private residence. On receipt of proof of payment of that charge for each of the years 2009-2013 the Local Authority will issue a certificate of discharge. If the house was your principal place of residence in each of those years then you will need to apply for a certificate of exemption from the Local Authority. To get the exemption certificate you have to prove that you are the owner of the house and that you lived there at the appropriate date in each of the relevant years-Wexford County Council usually accepts electric bills as appropriate evidence. Many other Local Authorities will accept a declaration to the effect that you lived there.
WATER RATES- The law places the onus on the selling Solicitor to ensure that a certificate of discharge issues from Irish Water so you will need to furnish proof of payment of the water rates.
NEW TITLE MAP- If the title to your house is one registered already in the more modern registry (known as the Land Registry) then a map can be bought for €40 and will arrive within a few working days of being ordered. If the property is an apartment or a house in an urban area then it is more likely that the title is one registered in the older registry (known as the Registry of Deeds). In that event an Architect/Engineer/mapping expert must be hired at your expense to prepare a Land Registry complaint map of the property as the purchaser will be required to register the title in the old registry first and then to create a new land Registry title.
NEGATIVE EQUITY- If the mortgage on your house is in negative equity you will need to obtain the permission of your Bank to sell and to reach an agreement with the Bank as to how the negative equity element will be dealt with after the sale completes. This process can be time consuming and cumbersome.
MARITAL STATUS- To comply with the terms of the Family Home Protection Act 1976 and various other more recent Family Law Acts your Solicitor must prepare a declaration which will exhibit documentation vouching your marital status. Typical documents needed might be copies of marriage certificates, civil partnership registrations, Death certificate of spouses, Divorce or Separation papers.
IRISH PPS TAX NUMBERS- You cannot sell a property in Ireland now without an Irish pps tax number. Many non- Nationals may have bought Irish properties years ago when this was not a requirement and may now need a pps tax number. To get one for a non-resident is taking 5-8 weeks at the moment.
PLANNING DOCUMENTATION- To sell a house you must be in a position to prove that the house was built in compliance with planning permission and designed and built in compliance with the Building Regulations. Proof is by a certificate from a qualified Architect or Engineer. If you have built a small extension or sun room this may be exempt but even so a certificate to that effect will be required. If you have converted the attic to living space you may be in breach of the Building Regulations due to ceiling heights. Any planning problems need to be identified and, if possible, solved before a house is sold. Houses with planning problems can be extremely difficult to sell unless the problems are reflected in large price discounts.
DECLARATION OF IDENTITY
If the house is in a rural area and a one off house on its own site you will need a declaration of identity. This is a declaration signed by an Architect or Engineer confirming that the site on the ground and all of the services for the house are comprised within the map attached to your title deed. Of late there have been an increasing number of boundary mapping problems relating to titles so this issue should be dealt with as soon as possible and if the boundaries are inaccurate they will need to be resolved before a buyer is found.
As you will see from the above, to avoid lengthy delays in the sales process you need to be very well organised to get all of the relevant documentation ready at the earliest possible stage. The secret to success in this process is to engage with your Solicitor as soon as you decide to put the house on the market rather than after you have secured a buyer.
Val Stone is the Managing Partner in Stone Solicitors, a law firm that operates from the former National Irish Bank building on the corner of The Bull Ring and North Main Street, Wexford. Stone Solicitors can be contacted on 053 9146144 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org