Whenever you see Estate Agent signs outside properties, they will have 1 of 3 different stages on them. "For Sale", "Sale Agreed" and "Sold". "For Sale" and "Sold" are pretty straightforward, with For Sale meaning the property is on the market and taking offers and Sold meaning contracts have been signed.
But what about "Sale Agreed". That little stage in the middle. What exactly does it mean?
What Makes a Property "Sale Agreed"?
Well, in its simplest form, Sale Agreed means that an offer has been accepted by the seller. However, at this stage, no contracts have been signed and so the sale is not yet legally binding. Infact, any party can pull out of the sale at any time for any reason.
Unfortunately, under Irish law, this includes gazumping. So if the seller receives a higher offer than yours, they can pull out of your sale and go with the higher offer!
What is a Booking Deposit?
After you go Sale Agreed on a property. i.e. your offer is accepted by the buyer. The estate agent will ask you for a booking deposit. Usually around €5k, but it can be a % of the sale price too.
This booking deposit does not secure the property from a legal standpoint. It is simply a goodwill gesture that shows the agent and seller that you are a serious buyer.
The booking deposit is also refundable if the sale does not progress to Sold.
What happens during Sale Agreed?
This is the stage where both sides do their due diligence on the sale. As the buyer, you'll want to hire a solicitor and a surveyor. The solicitor will advise you on all the legal aspects of the sale. Are the deeds in the right order, is there any planning permission against the property, is the property freehold or leasehold etc. And they also handle your stamp duty documentation. They will also handle communication with your bank for transferring of funds. This is called the "Conveyancing" process.
The surveyor will visit the property and produce a report giving you their opinion on the condition of the property. Everything from the structure to the windows, dampness, the condition of the inside and lots more.
This is your chance to gather as much information as possible about the property so you can make an informed decision on proceeding with the purchase or not.
If you do decide to continue with the purchase, your solicitor will work with the vendor's solicitor to draw up contracts of sale. They'll advise you along the way here and will be looking out for your best interest! Once those contracts are signed by both parties, you are legally bound to purchase the property.
If you decide not to proceed with the sale for any reason during Sale Agreed. You can pull out and request your booking deposit back from the estate agent.
Note: Although you don't have to provide a reason for pulling out, it doesn't hurt, to be honest with the agent - you never know who you'll be dealing with for future properties!
Finding a Surveyor!
If you have read this far and are sale agreed, make sure you hire a great surveyor! At GetHouseSurvey.ie all the surveyors we work with have a minimum of 10 years of experience (although our average is over 20 years), are qualified and insured.