1 November 2023

What happens after the sale has been agreed?

From creating a snag list to completing all your paperwork and arranging a valuation, these are a few things to check off your list before you move into your dream house.

By the time you reach the completion stage as a homebuyer, the hard negotiations are done. The seller will have accepted your offer and your booking deposit will have been paid. However, there are still i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed. Plus, you also need to ensure that the house is structurally sound and that there are no expensive surprises in store.

After all, you’re not just buying a home. You’re making a serious, long-term investment. That’s why you want the peace of mind that the property will:

  • increase in value over time;
  • stand up (quite literally) to the next 10 or 20 years’ wear and tear;
  • stay clear of any legal disputes or environmental issues.

Up until now, you’ve seen the home at its best, but remember that the seller is under no obligation to warn you about what repairs may be required or what a fresh coat of paint may conceal. Run through the following checklist and you can complete your purchase in confidence.

Conduct a survey to check the condition

Is your house structurally sound? Is that patch of mould on the wall temporary or the sign of something more serious? A professional building survey will find out. Your surveyor will examine the building from foundation to roof to confirm the current condition and future maintenance requirements. Common issues exposed during the survey stage include:

  • Rising damp: Particularly on older properties with poor ventilation;
  • Movement or subsidence: These can significantly impact the strength (and safety) of the building;
  • Roof issues: From leaks to poor insulation or ventilation, there’s a lot that could be hidden beneath the roof;
  • Drainage: Faulty pipes could land you with a big bill in an emergency.

Depending on your budget and the age of the property, you have a range of options when it comes to the structural survey:

  • Type One

For a new build where there are no repairs to consider, your mortgage lender might agree to a basic visual survey that notes any obvious risks or potential defects.

  • Type Two

Your surveyor will also explore the concealed areas (i.e. under the roof and beneath the floorboards) to identify issues that are likely to require repairs or ongoing maintenance. Typically, this type of report will be light on professional recommendations as to how any issues should be fixed.

  • Type Three

This is your full, extensive building survey that examines a property's construction, materials, and grounds in detail. For older buildings, in particular, the higher cost of this detailed survey can be worth every penny when balanced against the potential expense of repairs.

It doesn’t usually take longer to complete the survey process. Typically, you will receive a report within 5 to 8 business days. Ideally, you want to get as much detail as your budget allows and learn more about the property than the naked eye reveals.

Complete a snag list

Many new builds are not 100% complete at the time the purchase offer is made. A roof and the right number of walls are the priority, but there may be tasks still on the ‘To Do’ list, or simply work that is not up to your expectations. You'll find these "snags" outside and inside.

External snags

On top of general wear and tear, those wet, windy Irish winters take their toll, and you might find:

  • Loose roof tiles or gaps in the guttering;
  • Holes or breaches in the fences or boundary walls;
  • Leaks in the outdoor pipework, often due to freezing or impact;
  • Peeling paintwork or stained plastering that gives a poor first impression;
  • A driveway that needs resurfacing or resizing;
  • Garages and sheds that are not secure or structurally sound.

Internal snags

Ironically, it's often the older houses that are the sturdiest. But any home will eventually suffer snags in these common places:

  • Cracks or plaster work that need rendering;
  • Leaking pipes to seal;
  • Doors, windows or cabinets that don’t close correctly;
  • Missing or broken switches;
  • Loose wiring;
  • Loft or wall insulation that needs to be refilled.

Either you or your surveyor should compile a “snag list” of items for the builder or seller to fix. Typically, these repairs should not incur an extra charge, but if they have not been made by the agreed time, you may be entitled to request a deduction on the purchase price.

Once you have reassured yourself that the building is satisfactory, there are a few more steps to take in order to facilitate the release of your mortgage funds.

Arrange a valuation

Up to this point, the price of the property represents the acceptable sweet spot between buyer and seller. Your mortgage lender may not agree that this reflects the value. Before your lender releases the funds, they will require a professional valuation of the property to confirm that the purchase price is on point.

What factors does a valuer consider?

Your valuer will first establish that the asking price is "in the right ballpark" according to the property's size, location, age and number of bedrooms. Other recent home sales in the area will also influence the current value.

During the valuation, your estate agent will:

  • measure the size of all rooms;
  • note the fixtures and fittings (and their condition);
  • look for any factors that can increase or decrease the property's attractiveness for buyers (i.e. south-facing windows, extra parking space);
  • confirm the Building Energy Rating, planning permissions, and other utility/maintenance charges where relevant.

From the lender’s perspective, your dream home is simply their collateral against risk. If you don't keep up with your repayments, the lender needs to recoup the balance of the loan. They will want to make sure that there is sufficient value in the property.

Organise home insurance

Start requesting home insurance quotes as soon as the sale is agreed. You will need to have it in place for the mortgage lender to release the funds. Note that home insurance refers to the building, not the contents (which you may also want to insure to protect your belongings during a move). Your home insurance will typically cover the following:

  • Damages or losses as a result of fires, floods, or other natural disasters;
  • Serious damage to the roof, walls, windows, etc.;
  • Damage from burst appliances or pipes.

Take the time to go over any exclusions in your policy. Some insurers, for example, will not offer flood insurance in certain areas.

After the steps above have been completed and you're happy with the reports, you can proceed to mortgage approval and the exchange of contracts. Whatever the pressure to keep the purchase process moving, you are free to withdraw your offer and request a full refund of your booking deposit at any time prior to the contract signature.

Wherever you are on the homebuying journey, you'll find the resources you need to make the best decisions at each new step on our website. Our expert tips and advice for first-time home buyers cover everything from scouting for properties to signing paperwork and moving in.