Swoffers is Guernsey’s largest and most experienced estate agency so not only do we have a huge range of properties to choose from, we’re also able to offer the best advice to help you through every stage of the buying process.
The Local and Open Markets
Guernsey has two housing markets; the Local Market and the Open Market. The majority of properties on the island are Local Market, which can only be occupied by locally-qualified residents or licence holders. Open Market properties are available for purchase and occupation by anyone with the right of abode in the UK or an EU member state
There are far fewer Open Market properties (approximately 1,700) available and they are generally more substantial dwellings that command higher prices than their Local Market counterparts. For a more in depth definition of the markets and further information on local qualifications and licences, please visit Guernsey Housing information.
Before you start searching for your home property, you’ll want to know what price bracket you can look in. If, like the majority of people, you need a mortgage to enable you to buy your home, you will need to approach your bank, building society or a mortgage broker who will advise you how much you can borrow. In most cases you will need to have a deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price, and you will also need to take into account the legal and court fees as well as bond fees and document duty.
Register with us to start your search. Simply sign up and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest properties as soon as they come onto the market. You’ll no doubt know what you’d like for your dream home but remember, the less specific you are the greater choice you will have. For information on the property market in general, feature properties and new developments don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter too.
3. Putting in an offer
Once you have seen the property you would like to buy, talk to your Swoffers negotiator and they’ll put your offer to the vendor. If the vendor decides not to accept you can of course make another if it is within your means. If your offer is accepted then the legal and technical aspects of the buying process begin.
4. Appoint an advocate
Conveying property in Guernsey is a complex legal process and you will need an advocate to act on your behalf. Contact a selection of advocates until you find one who you feel comfortable dealing with and whose fees you are happy with. The advocate will be responsible for researching the titles and deeds to the property to ensure there is no problem with the transfer of ownership and the complexity of this will be reflected in the fees and the timescale. So, if you are buying a new development there won’t be a long trail of documents to examine but if the property is old and hasn’t been sold for sometime then there will be a lot more to investigate. Swoffers will provide your advocates draft Conditions of Sale together and the title deeds to the property and most transactions complete within four to six weeks from then.
If you are getting a mortgage the lender will require, and arrange for, a valuation from a surveyor. But depending on the type of property you are purchasing, you may wish to have a more in-depth report.
There are essentially three types of survey:
- Valuation report
- Home buyers report
- Structural report (full survey). A structural report is not normally needed unless the property is very old or suspected to have structural defects
6. Operative date
The ‘operative date’ is usually around two weeks after your offer is accepted and it is when the conditions of sale are signed or become unconditional. On or before your scheduled operative date you will be required to hand over the 10% deposit of the full purchase price. You must therefore ensure that all finances are in place and your funds are available. Once you have signed conditions of sale you must accept the property as specified and if you subsequently decide not to proceed with your purchase, you will lose your 10% deposit. The conditions of sale will include the ‘completion date’ which is the date you will go to court to complete your purchase. The conveyancing court sits each Tuesday and Thursday at 9.30am, so if you are in employment you will need to arrange time off.
On completion day you will normally meet at your advocates’ office before, where they will explain the court procedures. You will then go across to the Royal Court. (Please note that dress should be smart with no shorts or beachwear and that there are security checks, similar to airports). Your advocate will call you down as soon as they can and by 10am you will be handed the keys and walk out the owner of your new home.
Congratulations! All being well you are the proud owner of a new home in Guernsey. For an overview of the removals process, please see our moving to Guernsey guide. You’ll soon be settled with your feet up, ready to enjoy a new start on the island.