Property investment of any kind is one of the biggest financial steps you will take during your lifetime. It is part of the journey to creating a legacy for your future. You may have found your dream home, the perfect parcel of land on which to build or the perfect commercial investment through a private seller or through a Real Estate Agent. Before embarking on this journey, you will want to be sure that you have a clear roadmap and that you have an experienced real estate lawyer by your side.
Your chosen legal practitioner will assist you with verifying ownership of the property and can determine if there are likely to be any issues with the title to the property which could affect the seller's ability to convey the property to you.
This will involve conducting searches of –
- the Land Registry to confirm who the registered owner of the property is;
- the Registry of Deeds and Mortgages to confirm if there are any judgments recorded against the seller; and
- the Companies Registry if the title to the property is held by a corporate entity
In many cases it is not unusual for a Seller to simply provide a Buyer with a simple offer of sale which identifies the property to be sold, the price and a timeframe for completion of the sale. In such cases there may or may not be payment of deposit. A deposit should not be paid without appropriate title searches to confirm that you are dealing with the true owner of the property and that there are no impediments to transfer of title to you. You may also want to consider whether the deposit should be paid to the seller or to your legal practitioner or to the seller's legal practitioner and under what conditions.
In other cases, and more often where large value transactions are concerned, the offer to sell and the agreement to purchase is confirmed by the execution of an Agreement for Sale. It is advisable that such an agreement is drafted by an experienced legal practitioner and the terms of sale and intention of the parties to the transaction clearly articulated.
In addition, in the case of buildings you may consider hiring a qualified professional (an engineer or quantity surveyor) to undertake an inspection to spot any potential problems with the property so that these matters can be addressed in the negotiation process.
A property investment of any value is not something to be taken lightly. Of course, having a seasoned legal practitioner by your side on this journey can only bring you peace of mind and ensure that your interests are protected in the event of any unforeseen disputes.