An organisation set up to promote Guernsey's Open Market has criticised a report this week which said there had been an upturn in the housing market.
The OMF explained that the 'Unusualities of Guernsey' lists all Open Market transactions, including those done for £1 between the same person, so an increase in the number of transactions shouldn't be viewed as positively as it was previously described.
In a statement, the OMF detailed a change in the law which happened in November 2017, affecting properties being held in an SPV which were sheltered from stamp duty meaning that from now on all properties; open, local or commercial, will pay stamp duty, whether in an SPV (company structure) or not.
The OMF said: "Many people have decided that paying the expenses and costs each year for an SPV, when there are no stamp duty savings upon a sale, is a waste of money. The law allows people to convey their property from a company to their own name for a £1."
The OMF said the report included those £1 transactions and its statement continued: "We are aware that certain estate agents and property law firms are trying to paint a positive picture on the Open Market. We sympathise with them, as this is how they earn a living. However, spreading false news is not the solution. The States as a whole need to focus on the real issues that are causing people not to come to Guernsey, not to invest, renovate, buy further properties and more. We hope that the property lawyers, estate agents and associated parties are able to work together constructively in highlighting the negative impact of various parts of the April 2017 Housing and Open Market legislation, and the simple changes required to help drive further OM sales, investment and the income it generates for the island, along side other fundamental issues, such as sea and air links."
However, Carey Olsen has said the £1 transactions were not included and that if the Q1 statistics had included the £1 transactions then the number of sales would have been 32.
Having launched the Forum with a survey to gauge residents views, the OMF said they continue to want to work with the States for the good of all island residents: "We hope that Deputies can put aside their differences, understand the key issues the island is facing and focus on the evidence we have presented when it comes to voting. The OM is one barometer of the market, but according to stats, this 'small sector' alone provides nearly 25% of island tax revenue. Why kill our golden goose or pluck it's feathers out one by one?"
Pictured above: Zef Eisenberg and Helen O'Meara of the Open Market Forum
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