Making an offer on your first home? Download this guide for all the facts

You’ve found a home you love – now use Bank of Ireland’s free First-Time Buyer’s Guide to make sure you get the keys

Bank of Ireland

When making an offer, know that the asking price may be well below what the house will actually sell for


You’ve been on your journey to homeowner for a while now. You’ve spent many weekends viewing properties, gathering intel on your preferred location and hopefully have asked lots of insightful questions from the experts.

Click the image to download the guide
Click the image to download the guide

You may have found a house that you feel you can make home, so it’s time to make an offer. To help make sure that offer succeeds, Bank of Ireland has produced a free First-Time Buyer’s Guide to lead you successfully through the mortgage journey. 

When making an offer, know that the asking price may be well below what the house will actually sell for. This can be frustrating for you, if you really love the property and think it is well within your price range.

[Download the First-Time Buyer’s Guide now]

Most houses are sold by private treaty and your bid will be taken and put to the vendor, along with all other bids. Most auctioneers try to avoid the “best and final” or sealed bid offer but sometimes you will be asked for this. Therefore you will be asked to make your final offer, not knowing what any other party is willing to pay. This really is taking a shot in the dark. You should therefore only make an offer for the amount you genuinely think you can afford and take into consideration how much you really want the property.

Be careful of buying a property at auction as a snap decision could come back to haunt you. Getting a surveyor to properly check a house before you buy is paramount.

Hopefully your offer is accepted and, once it has, you will now pay a booking deposit. This is refundable if you decide not to proceed with the purchase. You must now contact your solicitor and the bank to inform them of your decision to buy. Once your offer has been accepted you will receive written confirmation of your intention to buy from the selling agent.

When you go “sale agreed” you are finally coming to the end of the journey and can start to breathe a little sigh of relief - but not fully! Sale agreed does not guarantee completion of sale and there’s still a bit to go.

It’s now time to exchange contracts.

The selling agent will issue you with a sales advice notice including all the details of the sale. Once this has been issued, the vendor’s solicitor drafts the contracts and they organise copies of the title deeds.

These are then sent to your solicitor and once they have received the contracts, and the letter of loan offer, your solicitor then starts what’s called a title review analysis.

Following the review of the contracts and copy title deeds, your solicitor will raise any pre-contract enquiries and once these have been satisfied by the vendor’s solicitor, you will sign the contract and the loan offer documentation in the presence of your solicitor. You must now pay the remainder of the deposit. Up until the exchange of contracts, the booking deposit is still refundable to you. For example, if something comes up at the pre-contract enquiries stage or if the surveyor’s report unearthed something like subsidence, bad electrics or building regulations breaches.

Once contracts have been signed they are sent to the vendor’s solicitor for execution by the seller. Once the vendor signs the contract and they’re exchanged, at that stage both parties are bound. Now you just have to draw down the mortgage and close out the deal and your home is now your own.

Case study: John's story

First-time buyers should be aware that the legal side of things can be a little bit tricky and it can be a bit of a protracted process

“When it came to buying our first home, we relied on family and friends as vital sources of information in the first instance.

“First-time buyers should be aware that the legal side of things can be a little bit tricky and it can be a bit of a protracted process, so make sure to hire a solicitor that is an expert in conveyancing. This is the biggest purchase of your life after all.

“We spent a tidy sum on a good solicitor and a really good surveyor as we were buying an older property and wanted to be made aware of any structural issues prior to buying. Even though this was our dream home, we wanted to be well aware of any problems with the house, even if it meant not buying it in the end.

“Don’t be afraid to also ask your mortgage manager for advice too, we found them very helpful and they, along with the solicitor, talked us through every step and we felt very at ease with the process. This is too important to get wrong so ask as many questions as possible. There was a lot of back and forth between our solicitor and the vendor’s solicitor and we found ourselves getting a little bit frustrated with the legal side of things. Unfortunately that’s the nature of it so don’t get disheartened.  It all came right in the end and we just can’t wait to move in now.”

Download the Bank of Ireland First-Time Buyer’s Guide.