Notary Public & Commissioner for Oaths

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What tax is due by first-time buyers?

Stamp duty by persons acquiring their first property for residential purposes is due at the rate of 3.5% over the first €150,000 and at the rate of 5% over the remaining amount. However, there is currently a temporary exemption for first-time buyers who acquire their first property by the end of June 2015. Such buyers will be exempted from stamp duty tax on the first €150,000. In order for a person to be eligible as a first-time buyer, such person must be acquiring his first ever immovable property by title "inter vivos" (i.e. by purchase or donation). Thus, a person who for instance already owns another immovable property (even if not residential such as a garage) will not be eligible.

We are about to buy a property for €200,000. The property is being sold in a finished and furnished state and it estimated that the furniture and appliances in the property are worth €35,000. Is stamp duty on the full €200,000 or should one deduct the value of the furniture and appliances?

Stamp duty is due on the value of the immovable property. Therefore, one should deduct the value of the movable objects such as the furniture and the appliances. In the example mentioned above, tax would be due on €165,000.

What deposit should be paid upon the signing of the promise of sale, and should the deposit be retained by the notary?

The law does not stipulate any fixed deposit that must be given on the signing of the promise of sale. Therefore, it is entirely dependant on the agreement between vendor and purchaser. The parties may even agree that no deposit is to be given. Likewise, the decision on who retains the deposit is entirely in the hands of the parties. The parties may for instance decide that the deposit is to be given immediately to the vendor, or else they may agree that it is to be retained by the notary (or some other third party) until a stipulated time.

Should a promise of sale be registered?

Yes. This is a compulsory requirement by law and if a promise of sale is not registered with the Director General of Inland Revenue within 21 days of its signing, then it would lose its legal validity.

Is any tax payable upon the signing of the promise of sale?

Yes, 20% of the total stamp duty in a contract of sale is due upon the registration of the promise of sale. The remaining 80% is paid upon the signing of the final deed of sale.

If the promise of sale falls through, would I be able to get a refund on the amount of stamp duty paid initially?

Yes. The notary will apply for a refund after presenting a writing signed by the prospective vendor and purchaser that the promise of sale has lapsed and that the parties are renouncing to any right of action that they might have against one another.

My partner and I are looking to purchase a property and I will be forking out most of the price. Can a property be acquired by two persons in different shares?

Yes, absolutely. A property can be acquired by two persons (or more) in different shares without any limitations. For instance, the property may be acquired in a 80%-20% ratio or other different ratios as agreed.

I have entered into a promise of sale and I want to cede my rights to a third property. Can I do so?

Yes, unless the promise of sale expressly prohibited you from so-doing. If any gain is made on the cession of the rights, then provisional capital gains at the rate of 7% are due on such cession.

Is the notary in charge of verifying that building permits are in order?

No. This is something that will not emerge from the searches carried out by the notary. Therefore, it is advisable that a prospective purchaser engages an architect of his choice to inspect the property and advise on such matters before committing to purchasing the property.

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