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Residential property

is reaching completion, is now a familiar sight to us all. There are, however, a few in the pipeline, with planning permission being granted for sites such as Randalls Brewery in St Peter Port, and dialogue with the planners continuing on Leale’s Yard in St Sampson. According to Paul Nobes, Director

of Infinity Developments, the island still has a lot to offer for new builds. “We have completed a number of developments over the past few years, and are still very busy on a mixture of projects ranging from apartments to first-time buyers’ homes, all the way to top-end residential properties of £1 million plus,” he says. “The demand is still there on every level.”

Change is coming What may have an impact on the market in the immediate future are changes to legislation. While there have been no significant changes regarding the housing market in the past 12 months, some are in the pipeline. The Population Policy Consultation

took place early in 2011 as the existing Housing Law was due to expire at the end of the year. (In fact the Law has now been extended to 31 December 2013.) There were many proposals in the document, ‘Managing Guernsey’s Population’, the majority of which relate to establishing a new system of residence permits to replace the current licensing system. Davey Le Marquand, Advocate and

Partner at Carey Olsen in Guernsey, believes the proposals will make Guernsey

The outlook for Guernsey

Ross Le Marquand, Director of Open Market Sales at Cooper Brouard Estate Agents, says: “After an unsettled year, we can welcome the more practical housing principles proposed by our Policy Council, which should renew confidence and help build the stability we’ve enjoyed in past years. Given the economic chaos in other jurisdictions, Guernsey could be well placed to benefit from disillusioned British and European nationals seeking a more relaxed lifestyle in a well regulated location. We have an ever-improving stock of high-quality housing that will help attract these applicants to our unique island.”

Shauna Clapham, Director of Open Market Sales at Swoffers Estate Agents, echoes this. “Any prediction for the next 12 months will be made with a certain amount of caution,” she says. “The media is full of tales of global economic crises, falling UK house prices, recession, double dips and stilted growth, yet our little island continues to thrive. To date, our Local Market has remained strong and prices have continued to increase. The Open Market has also fared well.

“It is probably too early to predict what effect the demise of the fulfilment industry in the Channel Islands will have on the property market – if any. Equally, until we know the effect of the proposals by the Policy Council in respect of the Population Consultation Document, it is difficult to make accurate predictions. We were in a similar position this time last year, making predictions based on uncertainties, but yet again the robust nature of our island economy has exceeded our expectations.”

more open. “We are generally more open because of the Open Market system,” he says. “However, the proposals indicate people will be able to acquire rights to remain here more realistically than under the current system, which has been subject to much scrutiny and jurisprudence. The current rules have been construed and applied too restrictively.” There are also some changes which

will affect the ownership and disposal of real property in Guernsey. Historically, stamp duty has not been payable on the transfer of shares. This made it a sensible and attractive move to convey a property – especially higher value or Open Market – into a company. A purchaser of the shares in the company would make a saving in not being liable for document duty, levied at three per cent of the purchase price. This saving is now set to be abolished. The States of Guernsey 2012 Budget

Report includes within it the proposition to introduce a Share Transfer Duty regime, which taxes sales of interests in entities that own either commercial or domestic real property in Guernsey at the same rate as applied under the Document Duty Law for standard conveyances. Details of this will be prepared this year, and the new regime should take effect by 1 January 2014. Another legislative change coming up is the introduction of a new Inheritance

14 PS February/March 2012

Law. Existing Guernsey laws apply restrictions regarding the individuals to whom you can leave your property. However, the new law will abolish this ‘forced heirship’ and give people the freedom to leave their property to whomever they choose. This will, however, be subject to a right of certain dependents to challenge the will, but only in very limited circumstances. Advocate Jason Green, Partner and

Head of Property and Wills and Estates at Collas Crill, says: “For decades Guernsey has been subject to a restrictive regime regarding what people can do with their assets in the event of their death. This change brings Guernsey’s inheritance laws broadly into line with those of the UK, and allows much greater freedom.” Carey Olsen’s Le Marquand says some

people are already factoring in the change to the law when considering wills. “Many people still wish to leave property to their spouse and their children, and for many that won’t change. But this is the 21st century, and people’s circumstances can be a lot more complicated. The new rules, which we are waiting for Privy Council approval on, are reflective of that.” n

PAUL NETTLESHIP is an Advocate and Senior Associate in the Property Department at Collas Crill in Guernsey


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