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Moving to Ireland as a foreign resident

First things first - there are no restrictions on foreign citizens buying property in Ireland, either EU nationals or third-country nationals. However, considering the state of the real estate market, you may wonder whether an investment is worth it.

 

Since Ireland's infamous property bubble burst amidst the general banking crisis of 2008/2009, housing prices have kept falling. With the slump now in its fifth year, property prices in Ireland are returning to levels not seen since before the turn of the millennium.

For example, the national average for residential real estate is now €172,000, with a slightly higher cost in the Dublin area at € 217,000 on average. Interestingly, the west of Dublin City has residential properties that are almost at a bargain, with a moderate €166, 000 for a purchase.

Investing in Irish property from overseas is indeed deemed risky, but not quite as risky as you might think. If you don't intend to move into the residential property yourself, rental yields can be solid with a good tenant.

For expats who are rather interested in living in Ireland for a while (or settling there for good), their new home could become a long-term investment.

Before you kick off your property search, there are some things to keep in mind.

If you'd like to find a house for your new life abroad, you should first evaluate what you actually need. For example:

  • How far should your home be located from your place of work?
  • Are you dependent on public transport?
  • Do you have any health issues that would require easy access to medical care?
  • Have you got any kids that will attend daycare, kindergarten, or school?
  • What kind of living standard do you expect from your new home (e.g. beautiful location,
    number of rooms, appliances and furnishing, etc)?

Once you have drawn up a list of criteria, you should also take the time to review your spending limit. A financial advisor can help you to assess how much you have available for a down payment, and what kind of regular loan rates you can pay.

Note: If you review your financial situation abroad, you should repeat the process with a local bank or building society in Ireland. Due to the economic crisis, borrowing costs in Ireland are fairly low, but the conditions for actually getting a mortgage are also very strict.

Don't forget to calculate a certain margin for costs and fees involved in buying real estate! For example, some of the costs and fees are as follows:

  • The legal fees for your solicitor are up to 1.5% of the property's purchase price, plus 21% VAT.
  • The fee for entering your property in the land registry includes up to €625 for the registration
    itself (again, this depends on the property value), and various smallish sums (circa
    €200 in total).
  • The real estate agent's fees are part of the purchase price. They can be up to 3% of the actual
    property value, and another 20% in value added tax.
  • If you are a first-time home buyer with a low-priced property, you may be exempt from paying
    stamp duties. However, this does not apply to investors or people who buy more expensive real estate.
    Stamp duty will cost you up to 9% of the property price (for the more exclusive kind of real estate).

Unless you have extensive experience with the paperwork involved in Irish property law, you should not make do without a solicitor's advice. Sales details, sales contracts, title deeds, formal completion of sales, purchase deeds, stamping the deeds, and registering your property - if you have rarely heard these terms before, you ought to hire a solicitor as soon as you see a few properties you're interested in.

A solicitor will also talk about the loan offer from your bank or building society with you. Perhaps they can even recommend an insurance provider to advise you on mortgage protection and home insurance. Furthermore, if you'd like to rent out the property at some point, you should be familiar with tenancy law in Ireland and your responsibilities as a property owner.

Once the sale has been officially finalized, the solicitor will take care of registering the property in your name. This can sometimes take half a year. However, delays in this process do not change the fact that the real estate is legally yours already. Only when the property has been registered will the solicitor close your file.

So that's a flavour of how to get the ball rolling for a move to Ireland. To get on with the serious business of finding a great place to live, check our list of the top rated towns and villages in Ireland. The Top 10 places are shown on the map below.

For more assistance on moving to Ireland, we recommend InterNations.