Sale Agreed is the most hectic time you'll experience during the house buying process. You'll be dealing with what seems like an endless list of people from estate agents, to brokers, banks, insurance companies, solicitors, surveyors and more. Then you'll be making phone calls and sending emails almost daily.
With all that in mind, it might surprise you to know that sale agreed is not legally binding. In fact, while you are sale agreed, either you or the vendor can pull out at any time without any repercussions.
So what is the purpose of Sale Agreed?
Well it is essentially a gentlemen's agreement where you agree to purchase the property for a certain amount provided the vendor withdraws, or at least holds it, from the market (Sale Agreed sign, no more viewings etc.) while you do your due diligence on the property and get your mortgage ready to go.
If everything goes as planned during sale agreed, you and then vendor will then sign contacts at which point the sale becomes legally binding.
What due diligence do I need to do?
Well, during Sale Agreed you will want to do a number of things. You'll contact your broker/bank to let them know you'll soon be reaching out to drawdown, you'll get your mortgage protection lined up, you will hire a solicitor to ensure the property and it's title are legally sound and you'll hire a surveyor (or engineer) to inspect the property and ensure it is structurally sound and to give you an independent opinion on the overall condition along with any further recommendations.
What a lot of people do not realise, is that your solicitor may have a number of queries on the property which your surveyor can help to answer.
Have there been any alterations to the property?
One of the things your surveyor will advise on is if they think the property has been altered since it was originally built. These alterations could be anything from an attic conversion, a porch, a large rear extension or anything in between.
If the property has been altered in any way since it was originally built, those alterations may need any one of planning/retention permission, a certificate of compliance or a certificate of exemption. Your surveyor will advise on this in their report and then the your solicitor will request those documents from then vendor via their solicitor.
Occasionally your solicitor may have a certificate of compliance or exemption which they will want the surveyor to check while they are at the property. Your surveyor will check that the works which have been carried out on the property match what is described in the document.
Based on the report from your surveyor and any documents provided by the vendor, your solicitor will then be able to advise you on any legal concerns they have, or hopefully just let you know that everything is in order!
Are there any concerns with the boundary?
Another element which your solicitor may have queries on is the boundary. In housing estates and built up areas, boundaries are usually very clearly defined by a wall or fence.
In more rural properties, boundaries can sometimes be less clear any may be roughly defined by a hedgerow, ditch, row of trees or even a stream.
In either case, there are situations where issues can arise. For example, if there is an extension on the property you are considering buying which encroaches on the boundary with a neighbour, this may present legal difficulties for you in future. Or, if there are any boundaries which are not clearly defined, this may be something your solicitor wants to clear up with the vendor and their solicitor. Like with certificates or exemption or compliance, your solicitor may provide land folio maps which show the legal boundary. If your surveyor receives these before visiting the property, they can also visually check to see if the marked boundary appears to match what is on map. If they see any discrepancies, they will be noted and your solicitor will then be able to investigate.
Although boundary issues are not very common, when they do pop up they can lead to potentially long and complex legal issues and so solicitors will always want to check if there is any cause for concern.
Does the property meet building or fire safety regulations?
Occasionally, a house or apartment may not be quite what was described on the agent listing or may not meet some building or fire safety standards. If this is the case, the surveyor will flag it on the report and then your solicitor may also be able to advise.
For example, if an apartment does not appear to meet fire safety regulations, your solicitor should follow this up with the vendor to see what certificates or inspections have taken place. If indeed it is not up to standard, your solicitor may advise against the purchase.
Or if the description of the property was incorrect and it was only a 3 bed house, not a 4 bed house, it may cause some issues further down the line which your solicitor should be aware off to advise.
This is not an exhaustive list of how your surveyor and solicitor can work together to make sure you are fully protected and informed. Every property has its own unique history and so every case is different.
Suzanne from Parker Law touched on this in a recent episode of The Get House Podcast. If you have not listened yet, you can check it out here:
If you are bidding on a property or if you are already sale agreed, we would love if you choose Get House Survey as your surveyor. We're incredibly proud of all our Google reviews and we strive to deliver an excellent, stress free experience for every single one of our customers.
If you do want to book with us, just go to GetHouseSurvey.ie and click on "Get Survey Now". Within a couple of hours of booking, we'll have a surveyor assigned and our average turn around time nationwide is currently 4-5 business days.
If you have any questions just drop us an email to email@example.com We are always happy to help and advise where we can - even if you are not going with us as your surveyor!