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First-Time Jersey Property Buyer – FAQs | Parslows Lawyers

First-Time Jersey Property Buyer – FAQs | Parslows Lawyers


Looking to buy your first property? Not sure if you’re eligible for first-time buyer status? Need advice on share transfer, flying freehold or freehold purchase? Parslows residential property lawyers are here to help.

Q. What is Conveyancing?

A. Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring ownership of a property or land. This would be required when you buy or sell a property.

Q. In what order should I go about buying a property?

A.  Whilst there is no particular order, it is probably best if you approach either your bank or a mortgage advisor at the outset.  You don’t want to be disappointed to find that you cannot borrow the full amount to buy your dream home.

Q.  What types (tenures) of property are there in Jersey?

A.  Jersey has three main types (tenures) of property.  Freehold, Flying Freehold and Share transfer.

Q. Can you explain the difference between Freehold, Flying Freehold and Share transfer?

A. The differences are as follows:-

Freehold – one person (or two, such as joint ownership by spouses) owns the land and house outright. As an owner of a freehold property, you are responsible for all or any costs of the property. Freehold owners can do what they want with their property — up to a point.

Flying freehold – one person (or two, such as joint ownership by spouses) owns the flat outright (a little bit like a freehold). However, the common land and the building, within which the flat is situated, is owned by an Association. All of the co-owners of the flats within the building are members of the Association. As an owner of a flying freehold property, you are responsible for all or any costs arising from the interior of the flat.  You will also be responsible for a proportion of the costs associated with the building and common land. Flying freehold owners’ rights and obligations are governed by a document known as a Declaration of Co-ownership.

Share transfer – one person (or two, such as joint ownership by spouses) owns shares in a company.  These shares give you a right to occupy the flat (you do not actually own the flat). The company owns the building and the flat within it.  As an owner of a share transfer flat, you are responsible for all or any costs arising from the interior of the flat.  You will also be responsible for a proportion of the costs associated with the building and common land and the Company. Share transfer owners’ rights and obligations are governed by a document known as Articles of Association.


First-time buyer status

Q.  I am a first-time buyer in Jersey although I have owned a property in another country. Do I qualify for first-time buyer stamp duty concessionary rates?

A.  As you have owned a property in another country, Jersey law states you will not be eligible for first-time buyer stamp duty concessionary rates.

Q.  I am a first-time buyer in Jersey, I have never owned a property in another country and I am living here on Licenced status, do I qualify for first-time buyer stamp duty concessionary rates?

A.  Jersey law states that Licenced residents do not qualify for first-time buyer stamp duty concessionary rates.


Stamp Duty

Q. I am a first time buyer, looking to buy a house with my partner. I have been told that there are two types of stamp duty to pay. Is this the case?

A. As a first time buyer, you will be required to pay stamp duty (or Land Transaction Tax (LTT) if share transfer) on the price of the property and also stamp duty (or LTT if share transfer) on the amount you borrow from your lender.  However, as a first-time buyer, the stamp duty rates will be less than existing property owners within specific price ranges.

Q. I am looking for a property to buy with my partner who is not a first-time buyer. Do we still qualify for first-time buyer stamp duty concessionary rates?

A. If you purchase jointly you will not be able to obtain first-time buyer stamp duty concessionary rates.


Ownership

Q. I have been told there are different types of ownership. What are the different ways in which my partner and I can own our home?

A. There are two ways in which the property can be held, either as ‘joint owners’ or ‘owners in common’.  When you co-own a property as joint owners, each co-owner owns the whole of the property and neither owner has a specific or identifiable share. Under ownership in common, each co-owner owns a specific (but undefined) share in the property.

Q. I am getting a mortgage with my partner but I don’t have qualifications to buy jointly.  If we split up can I get my ‘investment’ back out of the property?

A. There is no simple answer to this.  In general terms, you will run a risk if you are on the mortgage but not an owner of the property and you may find it difficult to get back your ‘investment’.  You should always consider whether or not to enter into a joint owner’s agreement to deal with such an eventuality.


The legal process

Q.  What is the process?

A.  In a nutshell,  we review the contract of sale (amend if necessary), check title of the property, attend on site (to ensure that all the boundaries are correct), ask the Vendor’s lawyer a number of questions, ask questions of certain Jersey agencies  and advise you on the legal issues you should be aware of.   With share transfer properties we also review the statutory records of the Company.

Q. How long will the whole process of buying a property take?

A. Jersey conveyancing process usually takes around 3 to 4 weeks. This can vary, however, depending on the length of the ‘chain’ of connected transactions, the complexity of the transactions, the surveyor and your bank.

Q. Do I have to go to Royal Court to buy my property?

A.  If you are buying a freehold or flying freehold property you will be required to attend Royal Court.  If for any reason you are unable to attend in person it is possible to give someone your power of attorney, albeit this will involve additional cost and stamp duty.

If you are buying a share transfer property you will sign a contract and, as such, there is no need to attend the Royal Court.

Q. Do you advise us on the condition of the property such as structure, drains and the like?

A. we are not qualified to advise on such issues.  Reference is made to the section on the survey.


Survey

Q. Do I need a survey of the property I intend to buy?

A. if you are borrowing from a lender they will require a survey or valuation. This is to ensure the property is worth the amount you have agreed to pay for it and they will have sufficient security.

Q.  Will I be able to rely upon the survey the Bank obtains on the property to show repairs and or structural issues?

A. Generally, a lender will request a valuation from the surveyor.  It is quite basic and is to give comfort to the lender that the property is worth the amount you have agreed to pay for it.

Q.  What type of survey should I consider? 

A. There are 3 main types of survey available and it is worth considering which type to choose.  Talk to your surveyor about this.

Option 1: The cheapest option is the valuation (which the lender will require). This type of survey is quite basic and there may not be much information to assist you.

Option 2: You can request a home buyers report. This is not as comprehensive as a full structural survey but will highlight parts of the property that need further investigation. The surveyor will not inspect unexposed or inaccessible areas of the property, for instance, the roof or below the floorboards.

Option 3: You can request a full structural survey. This will provide a detailed report on the structural condition of the building. This type of report is advisable, for example, where the property is of high value or is relatively old.

And don’t forget to consider getting the drains surveyed as well.

Q.  If I choose not to have a survey (or rely on the valuation report provided to the lender) and find structural issues and or repairs after I buy the property, can I ask that the Vendor pay for the work?

A. Once you have purchased the property you are responsible for all or any repairs or work. You will not be able to demand that the Vendor pays for any repairs that are found after purchase.

Q. Where can I obtain further information?

A. Please call Lindsey on 630530 or email her on lindsey.power@parslowsjersey.com


Please note that the information provided is for general information purposes only and is designed to provide you with an outline of the first time buyer legal services we offer.  Whilst we endeavour to ensure our information is correct and useful, we make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information offered.  Information on our website does not constitute legal advice and Parslows Jersey accepts no liability for any loss or damage arising out of, or in connection with, the information found.  Please consult a lawyer in the event that you require professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of the same, is correct.

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