What Does Buyer Beware Mean?

Buyer beware is a legal principle that applies when purchasing the property. It means that the buyer – and not the seller – is responsible for uncovering any defects in the property.

Caveat emptor

In Ireland, property is bought on the basis of ‘caveat emptor’. This is Latin for ‘let the buyer beware’. In short, it means that the property is sold ‘as is’. The buyer assumes the risk of buying the property, while the seller is not obliged to disclose any defects that the buyer could not find for themselves.

For example, imagine a property has a cracked wall. You would expect this to be discovered during a reasonable inspection of the property. Because of this, the seller does not have to reveal the cracked wall during the conveyancing process. Instead, the burden is on the buyer to uncover the issue.

Therefore, the seller only has to divulge ‘latent defects’. These are any defects which could not be detected by a reasonably thorough inspection. Also, the seller cannot mislead the buyer or act fraudulently. Short of this, it is the buyer’s responsibility to detect any problems. If he/she fails to do so, the seller cannot be held liable.

The importance of property searches and surveys

That is why property searches and surveys are so important. They ensure the buyer knows exactly what he/she is buying, and that the property meets their expectations. Otherwise, it could result in an expensive repair bill. It could even affect your desire to live in the property, or make it difficult to sell the property in the future.

Along with surveyors’ reports, you must have an experienced property lawyer acting on your behalf. A property lawyer can carry out the necessary searches, unearthing any potential pitfalls that could affect your decision to proceed with the purchase. Alternatively, your lawyer may discover problems that prompt you to negotiate a lower asking price.

These searches include a:

  • Planning search
  • Compulsory Purchase Order search
  • Land Registry search
  • Judgment search
  • Bankruptcy search
  • Sheriff and Revenue Sheriff search
  • Registry of Deeds search

Property lawyers Ireland

The buyer beware principle may seem unfair, but it is the default position for most property transactions in Ireland. Because of this, it is especially important for buyers to instruct a property lawyer. While it may seem tempting to cut costs by forgoing certain surveys and searches, this may turn out to be a false economy.

At Mullins & Treacy LLP Solicitors, we carry out detailed due diligence for buyers of residential property. We have a dedicated team of specialist property lawyers, all of whom have your best interests at heart. We are client focused and results driven.

Call us on 051 391 488 or email reception@mullinstreacy.ie for a no obligation enquiry.

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