Purchasing freehold property in Jersey - the basics
19 April 2018
Jersey's conveyancing system is unique, complex and, at times, confusing. Therefore, in order to guide you through the various steps of the legal process, we have prepared a simple guide to purchasing freehold property in Jersey.
What do I need to do as a buyer?
Obtain a registration card
In order to buy and reside in a freehold property in Jersey you must hold a valid registration card proving entitlement to purchase. This can be obtained from the Population Office. It is important to be aware that if you do not have a card you will not be permitted to purchase.
If you require a mortgage, ideally you should seek mortgage approval before making an offer on a property. If you are a cash buyer, ensure your monies are in place for completion.
Survey and valuation
You should be aware that whilst your bank (should you have a mortgage) will request a basic survey and a valuation, it is not comprehensive. Therefore, you should consider instructing a surveyor to carry out a homebuyer's report or a full structural survey to draw to your attention any major issues. The general rule is "buyer beware" so, if problems do arise with regard to the structure of the property after sale, it is extremely doubtful that you would have any recourse against the previous owner.
It is essential that you are covered by buildings insurance from the time of passing contract so you should arrange cover well in advance. If you are purchasing with the assistance of a mortgage, your lender will require sight of the cover note with its interest noted on the policy before releasing funds.
What will my lawyer do upon instruction?
The contract of sale will be reviewed to ensure that all the rights for the benefit of the property are adequate. We will also check whether anyone else has any rights or claims over the property.
To ensure that the vendor has a good, unencumbered and marketable title to pass on to you and that the property is free from any outstanding claims, we review all prior property contracts going back at least forty years.
Searches are required to check that the property you are purchasing has access to the main utilities and that there are no issues with Planning or any public roads surrounding the property.
As soon as our title research is completed, we will undertake a site visit to the property to check that the boundaries conform with the title. This is a crucial step as a site visit can sometimes reveal issues with boundaries, a breach of restrictions in the contract or encroachments that are not recorded historically in the contracts.
In addition you need to be aware of…
These items are included in the agreed price, it is important that you check the inventory to make sure that it is correct. It is the purchaser's responsibility to ensure that all items are working as they should be.
Stamp duty is a duty levied by the Treasurer of the States and is applicable to every contract which is passed before the court. You should consider the amount payable when calculating your affordability. Please see the stamp duty calculator on our website at www.bedellcristin.com/services/property/calculators/
Your contract of sale will provide for the apportioning of the parish rates and other periodic payments between the vendor and purchaser.
The big day ... buying your new home
Passing of the contract
It is an old Jersey tradition that a freehold purchase can only happen on a Friday in the Royal Court. You can appear in person or, by Power of Attorney, appoint your lawyer to attend on your behalf.
Once the contract has passed before the Royal Court you will receive the keys to your new home. A copy of the contract will be retained in the Public Registry and will constitute evidence of your title to the property.
Should you require further information or a no obligation quote, please talk to our property experts at Bedell Cristin.