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Buying your first home together

A home is probably the biggest investment which most of us make in our lives and it is important not to leave decisions to chance.

The investment is not simply money; it is emotional too. Getting it right can make all the difference between simply somewhere to live and making it a home. The following are a few tips and considerations for buying a home in Jersey.

Am I allowed to buy property in Jersey?

Jersey operates a system which requires people to be qualified to buy or rent property on the Island. The system is administered by a department of the States called the Population Office. It is important to check with the Population Office that you have qualifications before you buy. A property cannot be conveyed before a housing consent has been issued and consent will not issue to someone who does not possess the relevant qualification.

The three main categories are as follows:

People who are born in Jersey and have lived in the island for ten years. This category is usually proven by providing the Population Office with a birth certificate and references from schools attended on the island.

Those who have been in the island for at least ten years. This is evidenced in a number of ways but the usual method is a social security record and employer’s references.

Those who are “J” category employees. These are people who have been given a permission to buy land in the island under sub-rule “J”.

If you are to marry anybody in the above three categories then you will have the right to buy jointly with the “qualified” person. The system is a little more complicated for “J” category employees as a property holding company is required.

The above categories are due to be revised. A wholesale review has been carried out to simplify the complicated categories of those who may and may not buy land in Jersey. That revised law is not yet in force but is likely to be introduced during this year.

The next steps

If you are “qualified” to buy land in Jersey then the next steps are practical.

What would you like to buy? I know the question sounds obvious to answer but it will include factors such as: the standard of accommodation; how many bedrooms there are; and whether it is in the flight path for the airport. Location is important. Some may want to watch the sun go down in St. Ouen while others in St. Martin prefer to watch the dawn. Compromises have to made even with the most grand properties, so be realistic.

When would you like to buy? Compromises sometimes have to be made, particularly if you get caught up in a property chain. Keep you lawyer informed of any timing requirements and whether or not you need to tie two transactions in to each other (i.e. a purchase and a sale needing to complete on the same day). Most people are willing to accommodate as we are all in the same position.

How much can I borrow? You can approach lenders directly and ask what they are willing to lend. They are likely to ask you details about your income and your outgoings. The alternative is to go to a mortgage broker to find out what is on offer. You need to think about the deposit which the lender will require.

How much will my costs be for surveyors costs, legal fees and stamp duty? Stamp duty can be quite hefty and therefore it is wise to seek advice from your lawyer as to the potential costs involved so that you can work out a budget. Stamp duty is charged based on price bands based on the price of the property you are buying. It is paid by the purchaser and not a vendor. Stamp duty is also paid on the registration of a mortgage. Your lawyer will need to know roughly the price of the property you think you can afford and the amount you are looking to borrow, then he/she will be able to provide you with a rough idea of costs.

What is your budget? Most people are focused on what they can borrow and what they can afford now. You may need to think about the future too. Will you be starting a family? Can you cover the mortgage and nursery costs?

Boxes to tick

Other things which you may want to put on your tick list:

  • Is it next to a busy road? (noise and risk for children)
  • Does it have an enclosed garden? (privacy and small children)
  • What is the school catchment area?
  • Is there enough parking and can you park your car in the space without trouble?
  • Are they clear parking spaces (side by side) or back to back?
  • Where are the nearest shop and bus routes?
  • Does it have central heating, proper insulation and double glazing?
  • What repairs and upgrades will I need to carry out and how much will they cost?
  • What are the neighbours like?

It may sound like hard work and can certainly be time consuming, but it can also pay to thoroughly research the market for properties. Go to open viewings as well as specific viewings scheduled with an agent. It is surprising how much information you can glean by watching the market closely. There is no better feeling than believing you have got the very best property available on the market because you have thoroughly done your homework. Go on, be bold, get out there and work hard to find yourself that dream home….. you can do it (and maybe bag a bargain at the same time).

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