Grants of probate are now taking up to 22 weeks, according to estate agent Lisney, with solicitors warning that home sales are at risk of falling through.

In its Outlook 2024, the firm states that the delays are causing concern for buyers, and that many will be reluctant to engage with properties when they have no certainty on when a sale could close.

“This is also the category of housing that generally requires most refurbishment works, which is another blow to demand and pricing for such homes,” the report says.

Published earlier this month, the property group’s 2024 market outlook also points to delays in mortgage drawdowns as one of the main factors likely to impact sales in the first half of the year.

Dozens of TDs and senators contacted the Courts Service last year over long delays in getting wills sorted for their constituents. Nearly 80 direct representations were received from Oireachtas members last year about the courts, more than half of them about probate services, according to new data.

Former minister Michael Ring said his constituency office in Co Mayo had received multiple complaints about finalising probate and said it was a “disgrace” the way some of the families had been treated.

A letter from Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary, one of a number he sent on probate issues, said one family was “extremely anxious” to get probate sorted out “without undue delay” so that a house could be sold.

A spokesman for the Courts Service said that waiting times for probate did fluctuate depending on the time of year, the number of applications, and the availability of trained staff.

“The waiting times in the Probate Office had unfortunately increased in the months up to the middle of this year (2023), due to a number of staff retirements. This did lead to enquiries from Oireachtas members,” he said.

The report also highlights issues with mortgage drawdown process.

“With fewer lenders in the market since Ulster Bank and KBC exited last year, banks are slow in converting ‘approved in principle’ offers to formal mortgage offers as they forensically assess documentation,” Lisney said.

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