Offaly residents: Buying or selling your home? New system can save time and money on property transactions

Buying and selling property in Offaly has become more streamlined and efficient with the introduction of a new conveyancing system that requires title investigation before contracts are signed.

Since 1 January 2019 a faster, more efficient and cost-effective system for buying and selling property has come into force. The new ‘pre-contract investigation of title’ (PCIT) system will improve the conveyancing process by ensuring any questions relating to the property’s title are raised and resolved before the contracts are signed.

The new system is a fundamental change to the legal practice and procedures involved in buying and selling property. It has been designed by the Law Society of Ireland, in consultation with solicitors, based on changes in practice and a drive to improve efficiency and greater transparency in the conveyancing process. The new process is more transparent because any issues are fully revealed before one is “locked into” the contract.

Out with the old, in with the new

“Every property sale involves a process called ‘investigation of title’,” explains Michael Walsh, partner and head of property at ByrneWallace. “It requires the buyer’s solicitor to carry out certain checks on the property’s title. Historically, copying and exchanging the documents needed to investigate title was a difficult task, and took place after the buyers and sellers had signed contracts.”

“This means that the system has, up to this point, been structured so that queries or problems relating to the title to the property can often arise at a very late stage in the transaction. It is not unusual for such issues to severely delay or even completely kill a deal, which can be expensive as well as extremely disappointing.”

The Law Society and conveyancing solicitors have worked together to develop a better way to reveal and resolve such issues at an earlier stage in the transaction: the pre-contract investigation of title system.

“Essentially, pre-contract investigation means that a buyer’s solicitor must carry out a full set of detailed checks on the property’s title much earlier in the sales process,” Mr Walsh outlines.

“This is to ensure that any and all issues are revealed and – importantly – resolved before contracts are signed. Crucially, when the buyer and seller sign the contract under the PCIT system, the buyer is automatically deemed to have knowledge of all issues relating to the title and to have accepted them. Independent legal advice at an early stage is critical for buyers in particular under this new system.”

PCIT system: saving time and money on property sales

Mr Walsh explains that the PCIT system will be more efficient and cost-effective for everyone involved in a property sale. “We may also see a reduction in the time frame between signing the contract and handing the keys over to the buyer. This will very much depend on finance being ready and available, but this new process aims to reduce or avoid the current duplication of work and effort and minimise the potential for disputes that can lead to delays in completing the sale,” explains Mr Walsh.

“This is one of the most fundamental changes in conveyancing practice in a very long time.”

Tried-and-tested system – more secure contracts

The PCIT approach to property sales is well-established as a feature of the new homes market as well as in higher-value or particularly complex transactions. It has also been visible in sales of property by receivers in recent years.

Mr Walsh concluded, “The PCIT structure is a familiar, tried-and-tested approach in certain parts of the property sales market, and we know that buyers are willing to undertake the work of title investigation in advance. Expanding this system to all property transactions takes advantage of evolving technology for document sharing and paves the way for more secure property sales contracts.”

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