However, it can also be a worryingly expensive time.
There is something of a temptation to accept the lowest quote for legal fees when you are looking to buy or sell a property. However, what seems to be the cheapest quote may not always be the best (or even the cheapest in the end!).
It is important to ensure that your legal quote covers everything that might be involved to ensure you don’t get any nasty surprises in your final statement.
Advice for sellers
When you are selling, your lawyer is likely to agree to a fixed fee upfront. Sale fees are generally less than purchase fees and you may get the best deal from the lawyer who acted when you bought.
If you are selling by share transfer there may be other costs to consider, for example there may be a small cost for obtaining up to date company documentation from the JFSC and the company secretary may charge for assisting you.
In the unfortunate event that a neighbour needs to be party to your sale they will usually obtain advice from their own lawyer who will charge a fee. It is normal for the seller to bear these costs unless the lawyers who acted previously made an error in not addressing a defect and are therefore responsible to pay these fees.
Given that freehold and flying freehold properties in Jersey are bought and sold on a Friday in front of the Royal Court, some clients are not able to be present when their sale completes, however you can appoint your lawyer as your attorney. Preparing a power of attorney should not be expensive and is often not subject to a fee charge. You will however have to pay stamp duty of £60 for registering a power of attorney.
Advice for buyers
There is generally more legal work involved when acting for a buyer than for a seller. A purchase fee will therefore be higher than for a sale.
Again, your lawyer is likely to agree to a fixed fee upfront, based on various things including the value and complexity of the transaction and whether additional work such as equity agreements or wills are required.
There will need to be enquiry letters and you should allow approximately £350 for this. Essentially, if the buyer is financing the transaction with the assistance of a loan, then the enquiry letters usually have to be done in order to enable the buyer’s lawyer to satisfy various questions asked of him by the lender. In any event it makes good sense to make these enquiries.
Assuming that there is to be a mortgage on the property, the buyer must also pay their lender’s legal fees. Remember that you will also need to obtain your Registration Card for the transaction from Social Security of the Population Office.
If you are buying a property with another person it is sensible to protect each other. There may be an additional fee for an equity agreement as these can be complex documents. You should check whether the cost of preparation is included in the fixed fee quote.
Stamp duty is a significant cost that you will need to factor into your calculations. Your lawyer will advise how much you need to allow but it is worth noting that stamp duty is charged on both the purchase price of the property and at a rate of ½% on the mortgage.
The mortgage lender for the property will also require a minimum of a basic valuation survey which it is your responsibility to pay for.
Always try to obtain an “all inclusive” fee quote.
Whilst price is important there are other factors to consider. You should choose a lawyer who will take the time to update you, take your calls, return your e-mails and make sure that you fully understand everything.
Seek recommendations from others and never make the choice based solely on price.
Ogier's Property Law team prides itself on our promises to you:
1. We make it happen
We make sure the process is as stress-free for you as possible giving you peace of mind that your property transaction will complete on time.
2. We will give you a quality service
We provide guidance and support to you throughout the process. Our approachable professionals have the expertise and experience to handle all levels of transactions. We take a proactive approach and should problems occur we find solutions.
3. We will give you value for money
We put your best interests first. Our quality service is efficient and effective so we save you time and money.
All the best for your house hunting!
For an informal chat call Ogier’s property team on +44 1534 504056.