Solicitors fees for a property transaction – what a rip off?

So you’re in the middle of buying or selling a home or property? Congratulations! That’s some pretty big news! You’ve got a lot on your plate now, don’t you? Now is around the time that you’re getting an idea about the overall cost of transactions like these. The initial cost of putting your property up for sale, the percentage cost you’re going to have to pay the auctioneer, and those solicitors’ fees?! It might feel like you’re just throwing away money.

Why not just do everything yourself? You can save on some of those costs. Sure, it’s only a bit of paperwork.

We’ll presume as well that you’re working a 9 – 5 job, Monday to Friday.

For this example, we’ll presume you’re buying a home.

  1. So first things first, you’ll have to inform the auctioneer you’re buying the home from that you are acting as your own lawyer. Ignore the strange looks you’ll get, that’s to be expected!
  2. A sales advice notice will be sent by the auctioneer to you. This is a legal document that states the property and price it is being sold for. Keep this document somewhere safe. Presumably it’s important, otherwise why would the auctioneer send it to you?
  3. You’ll then have to request contracts and copy title documents from the vendors’ lawyer. Oh, small bit of jargon. The vendor is the person selling the house that you’re buying. 
  4. Once you receive the contracts, you’ll have to review them. You’re not looking for spelling mistakes but making sure that everything is above board in the contracts. Making sure the boundaries you’ve agreed to are a part of the contract. Is the granny flat on the side of the house a legal building? Is there planning permission for that extension?  Do the Vendors have proper ownership to the property?  Will your mortgage company lend money for that property?   Oh… and making sure that the vendors aren’t going to leave everything in the house, unless that’s what you want.   Then you’ll want to make sure it’s stated in the contract. Check the attic – God knows what’s in there… You’ll also have to review the title documents and check the deeds are correct. Once you’ve done this (it’ll probably take a few evenings after work to make sure you’ve gone through everything), you’ll raise any precontract enquiries with the vendors lawyer. Such as, you thought that all the appliances were coming with the house, but they’re not listed in the contracts? 
  5. You’ll then have to reorganise your documents so that they’re all neat and tidy again, after being strewn across your living room floor. Then you’ll provide them to your architect or engineer to conduct survey or planning searches and checking boundaries are all correct. It happens a lot more than you think that boundaries are incorrect in legal documents, especially with older houses, so this is a necessary step.
  6. Next, you will have to have your loan offer sent by your Bank, officially to yourself, as you’re acting for yourself. No big deal right? Wrong. Turns out the bank only deals with solicitors and will only advance funds to a registered solicitor with the law society holding full professional indemnity insurance with a minimum of 1.5 million. So unless you have time to grab yourself a law degree, and fire off to law school ( 7 years for both) you’ll have to hire a solicitor for this bit anyway!
  7. The replies you sent to the vendors’ lawyer about precontract enquiries will be sent back at this point. You find out that there’s two leases of 900 years on the property – what does that mean exactly? Oh, the vendors’ solicitor is now saying that it was never officially agreed that the appliances would stay in the house. This means you’ll have to buy a new oven, hob, fridge, freezer, washing machines, dryer, maybe a boiler too. 
  8. You suppose everything else is okay. Next on the list is the signing of all documents and paying over 10% deposit. Hmm, but you have to sign the documents with witnesses, and who do pay the 10% deposit to? It’s meant to go to your lawyer who would sort it, but you’re the lawyer. Cue the rush to find witnesses who can come over to you after work one day. At this point you’ll probably be getting calls from the auctioneer to hurry things along. The vendor wanted to close last week as they’re also in the process of buying another house and the whole chain of house buying is being held up. 
  9. You then send the contracts and deposit to the vendors solicitor. Oh, you forgot to sign one of the pages, the vendors solicitor sends it back to you to correctly sign. The Vendor will now arrange a meeting with their own solicitor to sign all their contracts.
  10. The paperwork then gets sent back to you. But it was sent to your home address by registered post and you weren’t there to sign for them as you were in work. You’ll have to wait until the next day to go to the post depot and collect your missed mail.
  11. You then have to figure out how exactly to drawdown the funds from the bank in order to pay the balance outstanding on the house. At this point you’ll probably have to take a day off work in order to contact the bank with your questions. You can’t keep taking breaks in work to field questions from banks and auctioneers, your boss is starting to take notice of your continued absence from your desk. But you have the same problem as before. The bank simply won’t deal with you. So you’ll have to pay that solicitor from earlier in order to draw down the funds and send the closing funds to the vendors’ solicitor. 
  12. After that you’ll have to send for the closing documents as well. What exactly that entails you’re not sure. There’ll probably be a lot of back and forth between yourself and the vendors’ solicitor as you may keep sending incorrect or not completed documentation. You’ll also request a closing search. 
  13. At this point, the transaction should close and you should receive your keys. However the Vendor is not happy and may decide at the last minute to pull out as you’ve passed the contract closing date with all the delays. It took so long for the documentation to go through, the house they were buying pulled out of the sale. 
  14. If the Vendor continues with the sale, you will then have to figure out exactly how much you need to pay in stamp duty on the house and pay that to the Revenue Commissioners. You’ll also have to send your Deed and Mortgage to the Property Registration Authority for registration.

Was it worth it? Buying a house is stressful enough, without having all these extras added in. 

Let’s walk through the steps you’ll have to take if you instructed a solicitor to do all the legal bits for you.

  1. You’ll have to inform the auctioneer who your solicitor is, so they know who to deal with.
  2. A little time later, your solicitor will send copies of all documentation to you, for your own records and so you can instruct your architect or engineer for planning and boundary searches. 
  3. Your lawyer will contact you when everything is in order and arrange a meeting for you to sit down with them and sign the contracts.  You’ll instruct your lawyer at this meeting of a date you want to move in.  The closing date comes and you’ll then receive a call saying you can pick up your keys! Congratulations, you’re now the owner of a new home!




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