No need to be green when buying in the Emerald IsleActivity in Ireland’s property market is picking up, as buyers from the UK, including Irish migrants and those with Irish roots, decide now is the ideal time to take advantage of rock bottom property prices before they start to rise again. However, despite Ireland’s proximity to the UK and its historical links, there are some quirky differences between buying and owning property in the two countries. Here are the Ireland Buying Guide’s eight top tips for a non-resident buyer in Ireland today:
1) It wasn’t long ago that solicitor’s fees for conveyancing in Ireland were typically charged at one per cent of the purchase price. Thankfully – for both buyers and vendors, these days fees tend to be fixed, typically costing €750-€1,200.
2) Stamp duty is levied at one per cent of a property’s purchase price up to €1million, and two per cent on anything over and above that. So for €1.25million property, €1million would be subject to one per cent tax and €250,000 to two per cent.
3) Since last July, all estate agents (often called ‘auctioneers’) must have a licence from Ireland’s Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) to trade legally. Those that have been operating for a certain number of years should be granted a licence without needing formal training, which new firms need to undergo.
4) All property advertised for sale or rent in Ireland should have a Building Energy Rating (BER) certificate, which rates a property’s energy efficiency in terms of energy use for space heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting, calculated on the basis of standard occupancy. The ratings are A-G, with A being the most efficient.
5) Rubbish collection is typically done by private firms in Ireland and not by your local council, so it’s a cost homeowners can choose not to have. It’s common for residents in rural parts of the country to compost their household organic waste and take recyclable waste to recycling centres, where you are charged by the bag.
6) It’s often not obvious where rural Irish communities start and end, with properties often seemingly strung out along country roads. This feature of residential development has been shaped by history, specifically Ireland’s now defunct Land Commission. The Commission was set up in the late 1880s to help break up the huge estates, largely owned by the British, and re-distribute the land equally among local farmers, resulting in the patchwork of smallholdings you see today. Planning permission to build a new home is still relatively easy to get in rural areas, with plots typically needing to be a minimum of 0.5 acres.
7) Ireland is rolling out a new type of council tax this year, called the Local Property Tax (LPT), the deadline for which to file a return is May 28th 2013. The tax is levied at 0.18 per cent of a property’s value, so a €200,000 will cost €360 a year. LPT is levied on all properties, whether they are occupied or not. Until 2012, there hadn’t been any type of rates levied on Irish property since the late 1970s, when council tax was abolished. In January 2012, a flat rate household charge of €100 was introduced as an interim ‘tax’ before the introduction of LPT.
8) It’s so close by, property buyers from the UK often overlook the fact that Ireland is in the Eurozone - until the day they need to send euros to Ireland. But not planning how you will exchange and transfer funds to an Irish bank can cost money unnecessarily – namely, by asking your bank to make a currency transfer for you. Instead, using a specialist currency firm, such as Smart Currency Exchange, www.smartcurrencyexchange.com will mean you receive a far more competitive £/€ exchange rate, a better, more personal service and you have the option of forward buying euros to help you budget.