Speed up your property sale

Speed up your Property Sale

Our new guide, Speed Up Your Property Sale – A Guide To Avoiding The Most Common Delays, is designed to help you identify, and hopefully avoid, potential delays in selling your property.

For most residential property sales, we estimate the average timeframe is about four to five months. However, for some property sales there can be delays and for a few, those delays can be significant.

Selling or buying a property is not always straightforward or quick. For most people it is the biggest purchase they will ever make, and the process is designed to protect them and their money. Over the years, other protections have been built into the process for selling property including measures to prevent money laundering and a requirement to collect outstanding taxes on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners.

All of this has made the process more complicated and, in some cases, there may be as many as 15 parties involved in the transaction. Those involved range from the seller and the buyer to multiple financial institutions, government agencies such as local authorities, the Revenue Commissioners and the Probate Office (see page 6 for a full list).

Some of the process has become digitised but, unfortunately, much of it remains paper based. While there are already projects in place to develop e-Conveyancing and e-Probate, these will take time.

As things stand, there are several common delays in selling your property. If you are aware of them, you can plan ahead and try and avoid them wherever possible. 

Seven common delays in selling (and buying) your property

There is a lot of official documentation needed to sell a property. Knowing what you need and gathering the appropriate documentation as early as possible will help avoid delays later. Appointing and instructing the team who will help you with the sale (solicitor and estate agent) as soon as you decide to sell will start the official process and help avoid delays.

The legal process of selling a property cannot begin until your solicitor has the title deeds for the property (proof of ownership). If your property has a mortgage, then your bank usually holds the title deeds and any delay in getting them to your solicitor will delay the start of the process.

To complete a sale it is a legal requirement to examine the planning history of a property over a period of almost sixty years in order to determine whether or not there is any unauthorised development (e.g. an extension without planning permission). If you have to apply for retention of an unauthorised development, it will delay the sale significantly.

To complete a sale you need documentation from the Local Authority and service providers, such as Uisce Éireann, to establish whether the roads and services (water and sewage) leading up to, and into, the property are maintained by them (this is known as ‘in charge’). Depending on where you live the timeframe for getting this documentation can vary significantly, causing delays.

Before you finalise the sale you must have confirmation from the Revenue Commissioners nthat all outstanding taxes have been paid. Local Property Tax (LPT), the Household Charge, Residential Zoned Land Tax (RZLT) and the Fair Deal scheme are all charges on real estate which, if not paid in full, cause delays.

If the property is being sold following the death of the owner, then the purchase could be conditional or ‘subject to probate’. Probate is the official process of agreeing how the inheritance of the property and possessions of the deceased person is to be distributed. If this has not been finalised in advance of the property sale it can cause very significant delays.

If the buyer of the property does not have the money or finance in place to complete the purchase (either they are waiting on the sale of their own property or mortgage approval), the sale cannot be completed. Delays can also be caused if the seller does not have the final redemption figure from their bank to settle the existing mortgage.

How to plan for a speedy sale

You can be prepared and reduce delays in your property sale by following these steps (all are detailed throughout our guide).

Do your research

Everyone engaging in the property market, both buyers and sellers, should read this guide to know and understand what is needed for a hassle-free sale. The best place to start is by doing your research to get ahead of any potential roadblocks that may add time to your property sale.

Gather your documentation

Gathering the documents that will be needed for your property sale early in the process can help reduce delays later. This guide sets out what you need and how long this might take to help you get organised as early as possible. Each section has a checklist to make this easier.

Find out more - gathering your personal documentation

The property sale process starts with you. You need to gather information and documentation relating to you and your personal circumstances. These are needed to prove your identity.

Many of the documents are required for your solicitor to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation. Solicitors and organisations which might be targeted by money launderers are required to put strict controls in place to verify a client’s identity and to report any suspicious transactions. Your solicitor may also refer to this as ‘Know Your Client’.

The good news is that you can access most of these documents online. The cost and time involved will vary depending on whether you need to get new documents, but should not be excessive.


✓ Photo identification e.g. passport(s), driving licence. Don’t forget to check the expiry date.
✓ Personal Public Service (PPS) number. This can be found on a recent payslip or
Revenue documentation.
✓ Proof of address dated within the last three months e.g. utility bill (electricity/gas/
landline telephone) or bank statement.
✓ A copy of your marriage or civil partnership certificate, if applicable. Available at
www.hse.ie. If you are divorced or separated, you will need a copy of the divorce order
or the separation agreement.

Find out more - gathering your property documentation

The volume of documentation required to complete a property sale might surprise you. Gathering these documents early in the process can help reduce delays later. It will also help you identify potential difficulties which may arise during the process.

You will need:

  • Property title and deeds
  • Land registry and mapping
  • Planning & Building Compliance
  • Taxes, charges, utilities and services


Don’t forget to use the checklist at the end of our guide to keep track of everything you need.

Set budget and timeframe

Often external factors can delay the process so it’s a good idea to be aware of the timeframes involved when dealing with third parties, and related costs where applicable. Look at the Documents Checklist at the end of this guide to see where delays can happen at each stage.

Build your team

It’s important to find and appoint an estate agent and solicitor as soon as you make the decision to sell. Quick links to finding an estate agent, solicitor, and other service providers you will need to engage with are available in this guide.

Find out more - building your team

One way to speed up the sale of your property is by having a solicitor on board from the very start. Solicitors know their way around the process, where the pitfalls lie, where problems may arise, and can provide you with the expert advice and support you need to make the whole process run
as smoothly as possible.

Your solicitor will help you by:

  • Giving you a copy of their Terms of Engagement and a Section 150 Notice of Costs that sets out
    their fees, VAT and anticipated outlays.
  •  Explaining how the property selling process works and the timelines involved.
  • Telling you which documents you will need to find.
  • Explaining title searches and review title documents to identify any potential difficulties.
  •  Communicating with the buyer’s solicitor.
  • Resolving any legal issues.
  • Drafting closing documentation.
  • Closing the sale.
  • Dealing with matters after the sale, including paying off any loan or mortgage and getting a deed of release/discharge from your bank to confirm that the loan has been repaid.

It’s a good idea to choose a local SCSI estate agent with experience of selling homes like yours.

Here are some points to follow before you make a decision:

  • When getting your property appraised by different agents, bear in mind the highest figure may not be the most realistic. The appraisal provided by the agent must be accompanied by a ‘Statement of Advised Market Value’ form as specified by the Property Service Regulatory
    Authority (PSRA).
  • It is a good idea to check the residential property price register to compare the agent’s appraisal with the sale prices achieved for similar property types in your area. This register can be located at www.psr.ie.
  • Find out exactly what you are paying for – how and where the agent will advertise your property.
  • Agree a maximum selling time. If you’re happy with the service, you can always extend it – and if you’re not, you can change agents when the time’s up.
  • The terms and conditions you agree with your agent should be stated in the PSRA ‘Letter of Engagement’ form. The Letter of Engagement is an extremely important document and must be signed by both parties before any sales instruction.
  • Last but not least, try and choose an agent you like and trust – selling a house can be a long process, so it’s important you get on.

Find a practising solicitor in your area – www.lawsociety.ie/findasolicitor
Find an estate agent – www.scsi.ie/find (select ‘residential surveyor’ from the searchengine)

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