19th Century Law Delaying Property Sales And Costing Consumers Dearly

Tuesday 2nd July 2024

19th Century Law Delaying Property Sales And Costing Consumers Dearly

Dáil Justice Committee to Scrutinise Bill to Address Issue

Ireland’s conveyancing system, the process for legally transferring property title from seller to buyer, dating largely from 1881, is so antiquated and unfit for the digital age, that unless legislators fix it, aspiring buyers will continue to see sales fall through, gazumping and mortgage approvals lapsing, among other issues, the Oireachtas Justice Committee will hear on Tuesday when it undertakes pre-legislative scrutiny of the Seller’s Legal Pack for Property Buyers’ Bill 2021.

IPAV, the Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers, will tell the Committee that the Bill, in addition, would act as a natural precursor to realising the Government’s long stalled plans to introduce e-conveyancing, digitisation and property and home logbooks.

Addressing the detail of the Bill IPAV will tell the Committee that by simply changing the order in which documents are made available to prospective buyers, effectively aligning it with that which currently exists for online and public auctions, the Bill would save buyers from making offers and incurring the expense of engaging the services of solicitors, engineers and surveyors for properties that end up being withdrawn from sale, typically late in the process when issues around title, rights of way and other such issues emerge to the great dissatisfaction and frustration of consumers.

The institute will say the conveyancing system would become more efficient, secure and cost effective for consumers whilst addressing inordinate delays.  Specifically it will:

  • Provide full transparency and complete information to consumers up front;
  • Offer early confirmation of property saleability and remove from the market those that can’t be sold, thus reducing failed transactions and associated costs;
  • Cut conveyancing times, currently averaging four months, by up to 50%;
  • Drive efficiencies similar to those in public auctions and online sales, where documentation is provided upfront and sales close within weeks.

The Bill aims to create a statutory obligation for a seller’s pack to be prepared in advance of a property going to market. This would contain documents such as contracts for sale, property deeds, planning documents and architect’s certificate of compliance with planning and building regulations.

Pat Davitt IPAV’s Chief Executive will tell the Committee. “When purchasing a car you receive a history of the vehicle upfront, including mileage, maintenance, and ownership details. This makes it easy to validate the data before making a decision to purchase. However, when purchasing a property, you receive no such upfront evidence, despite paying many multiples of a car's cost.”

And he will say the current process “desperately needs reform to reflect the digital age.”   Previous attempts to improve delays, such as the voluntary Pre-Contract Investigation of Title (PCIT) system, has not made a discernible impact.