Costs and savings opportunities when buying a house in Ireland
There are many costs associated with buying a home in Ireland. The list below covers all the main things you can expect to pay for during the home buying process. Many fees are non-negotiable e.g. the various taxes, but you can save a lot of money by shopping around for some of the various services you will require before becoming a homeowner in Ireland. Read on for more information.
The down payment you pay will ultimately reduce the value of your mortgage, so unlike any other cost you'll find on this page, it's sort of a case of the more the merrier. Understandably, for many people buying a home, coming up with just enough to cover the required down payment amount is the goal. New Central Bank regulations (early 2015) regarding the minimum required value of a down payment have made things a little harder on a lot of people. The new regulations call for a higher down payment than was previously required. Scroll to the bottom of the article at this link for an example of how to calculate the down payment for first time buyers.
The booking deposit is a refundable payment typically made to the seller's auctioneer. The amount you will be required to pay will vary from one auctioneer to another, but it is typically in the region of 5-10% of the purchase price. You will need to pay the booking deposit when you agree to purchase the home, but it is fully refundable up until legal contracts to purchase are signed.
Stamp Duty is a one-off payment, payable to the Revenue Commissioners, upon the purchase of your house. For most properties (those with a sale price under €1,000,000) it is calculated at 1%.
If you want further information on this home ownership cost read this document on CitizensInformation.ie.
Mortgage application fees
I have applied for mortgages with 3 different banks in Ireland. None of those banks charged me a mortgage application fee. However, you will find that if you go through a mortgage broker, there is likely to be a mortgage application fee. The brokers assess a fee for the time and effort it takes to process your paperwork, and make applications to various banks on your behalf. My advice is to shop around as some brokers will either not charge a fee at all, or they may refund all or part of it if you take out a home insurance policy with them. For reference, two mortgage brokers I spoke to in Cork, quoted me application fees of €200, which was fully refundable with the purchase of a home insurance policy.
This is a report that your bank will require before they will agree to fund your mortgage. A professional valuer will look at the house you want to purchase, and provide a recommendation to the bank regarding its value. This assessment of the home is not a detailed examination of the property. You will need an engineer or surveyor to perform a detailed inspection of the house (see below).
The cost I was quoted by my bank for the valuation report was €130. This may vary from bank to bank and it is generally not refundable.
Structural House Survey
One of the most important things you can have done before committing to any contracts is a structural survey of your prospective new home. Even if you have found your dream home, you will want your engineer to uncover any issues that they can. Remember, when buying a house in Ireland, it's a case of buyer beware. The seller is not obligated to inform you of of any issues e.g. roof, floor, leaks, chimney, dampness etc. The engineer might find things that will cause you to walk away from the purchase, or they might find some things that you will want to negotiate with the seller before the purchase goes through. This is one of those costs where you should shop around. Location, house type/size, and so many other factors will be considered in their quotes, so talk to at least 3 engineers before settling on one.
PropertyHealthCheck.ie have a detailed write-up on this topic that is worth reading.
Conveyancing is the legal process that includes researching, documenting and transferring ownership of a property. The fees associated with it are payable to a solicitor/lawyer. There is huge competition in this area of home buying, and you certainly should take some time to find an option to your liking. Remember cheapest isn't always best! A quick flick through the phonebook, or a Google search for solicitors who specialize in this process will throw up dozens of results. Pick a few to contact, and when discussing your options get clarification of exactly what is and what is not included in their fees. Besides the legal service fee (and the VAT on it) you can expect to also pay other charges through your solicitor which may include: land registry offices fees, legal search, stamp duty and more.
Mortgage protection insurance
You will be required to take out mortgage protection insurance for your new home. Your bank will need to see coverage for you (and anyone on your mortgage policy) which will pay off the mortgage in the event of your death. Ugh! It's one of those insurance policies you hope to never make use of.
There is another form of mortgage insurance which will cover your payments for a defined period of time under certain circumstances e.g. you lose your job, or become ill and cannot make the payments. This type of insurance is optional.
Not to be confused with mortgage insurance, home insurance is a property insurance which covers private homes, buildings and their contents. In most cases it will be a requirement of the banks lending criteria that you have this cover, before the loan will be granted.
As with any kind of insurance, the rate you will pay is dependent on a number of criteria, and you will have various options to choose from.
ConsumerHelp.ie has valuable information on this and many other types of insurance.
VAT (value added tax)
The current rate of VAT (as of May 2015) on new homes in Ireland is 13.5%. VAT is not payable on second hand homes.
Local Property Tax
Property tax is a relatively new addition to the cost of owning a home in Ireland. The fee you will pay is based on a self assessment of the value of your home. A table of fees is available at this link on Revenue.ie.
The auctioneer fee is typically a percentage of the home price. Even though you don't have to separately pay for this fee, you could consider it as part of your cost. In Ireland auctioneers (or estate agents if you prefer) typically charge a fee of between 1 and 2% of the purchase price of a home. The seller pays this from the sale proceeds.
Home Ownership fees
Although not a very common cost of owning a home in Ireland, some residences do require you to pay a home ownership fee. This fee will cover the cost of some 'community' services e.g. waste pickup, gardening service, gym access etc. You are more likely to find these types of fees as part of apartment living. Typically you will pay this fee on a continuous monthly basis.
Utility connection fees
In most parts of Ireland all your utilities should already be in place, but in some remote parts of the country (in particular if you are building a new house), there could be fees that you are required to pay to connect various utility services. You might be able to negotiate discounts or no fee depending on the type of service and the level of competition.
I hope this article will help those of you who are hoping to buy a house in Ireland after moving here. Other circumstances may introduce more fees, but these are the main costs you can begin to plan for when buying a home in Ireland.