Frequently Asked Questions
Note: While the information below is deemed accurate, this website makes no warranty or claim as to accuracy of the information provided. Please consult with a licensed Fiji real estate agent, law firm and/or accountant before investing.
Q. What is the legal contract for purchasing real estate properties in Fiji?
Any legal contract for purchasing properties in Fiji must be in writing and valid. The common law of contracts also similar to England and USA is to prepare a contract every time one sells or purchases a property. A sales and purchase agreement by the seller that is checked and approved by a certified lawyer prior to signing. For non-residents of Fiji, there are certain requirements that the seller can work through with both parties in order to the contract becoming unconditional.
Q. Is there stamp duty payable?
All transfers of properties prior to settlement and leases is payable on stamp duty. Stamp duty on property leases is payable to 1% on annual gross rent and 3% on real estate property. Non-citizen purchasers are now required to pay 10% real estate stamp duty..
Q. Is there Capital Gains Tax in Fiji?
There is a 10% capital gains tax in effect on profits from the sale of homes or property in Fiji.
Q. Can I as a non-resident investor obtain loans from commercial banks in Fiji?
Non-resident investors can obtain loans from commercial banks in Fiji. The maximum loan is handled by the Reserve Bank of Fiji. Most buyers tend to use their own properties in their own country of residence as equity.
Q. Can I use my real estate property purchased as security for a mortgage in Fiji ?
Yes, real estate properties can be mortgaged as security for mortgage or debt. Most common mortgage source are banks and financial institutions in Fiji. ANZ Bank, Colonial Bank, and Westpac Bank are the most active in the market a proper and direct contact with the bank of your choice can be made by the seller.
Q. How long does the transaction for a property take?
A property transaction usually takes 60 days. However, delays may occur through government agencies but the seller can assist with attorneys to establish things more easily and effectively until settlement.
Q. Can non-residents invest in a real estate property?
Yes, non-residents can invest in a personal real estate property in Fiji. However, freehold properties that are larger than one acre than approval must be made by the Minister of Lands of Fiji.
Q. What forms of ownership is permitted in Fiji?
Ownership of real estate properties in Fiji can be individuals or more than one person. Businesses and partnerships can acquire, hold and convey real estate properties in Fiji. Partnerships may be more than 20 people with one general partner. Trusts and joint venture can purchase real estate properties in Fiji, as well.
Q. Can a non-resident marketer sell his property to another non-resident purchaser?
Yes, non-residents can sell properties to another non-resident buyers. New developments in Fiji are purchased almost exclusively by non-residents for many purposes.
Q. Will I need consent from the Minister of Lands Consent if I want to re-sell my property to another non-resident?
Yes, consent is required by the Minister of Lands prior to dealing into a binding contract. This procedure is simply an application form filled and submitted by each party to the Department of Lands for approval. This usually takes from 2 to 8 weeks.
Q. Are there Registered Appraisers in Fiji?
Yes, and most of Fiji’s commercial banks have approved list of appraisers that form the bank’s panel of appraisers.
Q. Can I let other people use my property?
Yes, anyone can use your property with your arrangements. However, it should not be on a commercial basis. If there are intentions of earning income from the property then approval must be received from Fiji Trade Investment Board. The seller can recommend professional accountants to help structure the investment properly.
Q. Where do we go to obtain approvals to set up a business or to earn income in Fiji?
For approval to set up a business in Fiji, foreign investors need a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate from the Fiji Trade Investment Bureau, which encourages investment. This application can take up to 5 to 14 days. The seller can recommend professional accountants to submit and structure your application properly.
Q. Where to go to get work permit(s) to set up a business in Fiji?
Business permits can be obtained from the Department of Immigration, which is responsible for issuing work permits. Any investor seeking a work permit must invest at least $50,000 before they will be considered for a work permit.
Q. Is it difficult to get a work permit?
If all information requested by the Department of Immigration is provided, it will not be difficult to obtain a work permit. Temporary work permits are also issued in a reasonable time. A permanent work permit will not be issued until all requirements are provided, with clear police reports. Application fees and necessary charges apply.
Q. What is the Expat lifestyle like in Fiji?
Unlike most countries, Fiji is more relaxed, as it is not as busy and crowded. The lifestyle is great, and multicultural people reside in Fiji.
Q. What happens on weekends or whilst on holidays?
There is a lot to do on the weekends when one is in Fiji. There are many activities such as swimming, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, fishing, golf, tennis, bowls, exploring, village visits, shopping, and sightseeing to some of the beautiful islands of Fiji.
Q. Is there VAT payable when I purchase a secondary sale property?
No, VAT is not payable when purchasing a secondary property from private individuals.
Q. Is there VAT payable when I purchase a new property?
VAT is payable when purchasing a new property. The seller encourages one to seek independent legal advice to ensure the responsibility of VAT in the Sales and Purchase agreement.
Q. Is broadband internet connection available in Fiji?
Yes, Broadband internet is available in most locations of Fiji. Vodafone and Digicel now offer 3G wireless Internet service covering most of the country.
Q. Can non-residents open an external account in Fiji?
Yes, external non-resident accounts can be opened by most banks. They will be able to assist you with this requirement for the comfort of transferring currency overseas for your investment in Fiji.
Q. Are developers subject to Tax on Profit?
Land developers are subject to tax on profit. Profits that are delivered by entities dealing with sale of properties with intentions of making profits are subject to tax. You are generally not considered a land developer unless you have a very large acreage and are selling off different parcels or own several individual properties in Fiji.
Note: While the information above is deemed accurate, this website makes no warranty or claim as to accuracy of the information provided. Please consult with a licensed Fiji real estate agent, law firm and/or accountant before investing.
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Q. What Does Under Contract Mean
When Yogi Berra said a baseball game wasn’t over until it was over, he meant that even as much as a team might be down or up in runs, the game wasn’t over until the last pitch was made. This also applies to the real estate term “under contract.” Under contract in real estate means that a buyer has made an offer on the house, and the seller has accepted. But the sale is not quite final. And many things must happen between “under contract” and “sold.” When everything is finished completely with the transaction, then the home will have been sold. And then it’s officially over.
What does under contract mean?
The simple answer is as above. The buyer has made an offer on a house, and the seller has accepted that offer in written form. But that’s typically just the beginning of negotiations on the house. There are often contingencies from both the seller and the buyer. And these must be met and completed to both sides’ satisfaction or compromised on. Real estate contracts discuss many conditions that must be met by both the buyer and seller. And if either side fails to meet one of these conditions, the contract could possibly be voided with one or both sides backing out of the deal.
Steps in a standard real estate transaction
And here are the general steps followed for buyers and sellers heading into a contract and toward closing:
- Buyer finds a house they like – After getting pre-approved and working with their agent to find the right place, the buyer prepares to offer a bid on their chosen house.
- Buyer makes an offer on the house – After being advised by their agent, the buyer submits an offer of payment to the seller. Sometimes if the house is popular, a multi-offer scenario can arise. And then the seller has multiple contracts from which to choose.
- Seller accepts the buyer’s offer – When the seller accepts an offer, this means the home is no longer on the market. And its status in the MLS will be updated to Under Contract or Pending. Although the parties have agreed in principle, there could still be multiple points of negotiation on both sides. Those are for example inspection, sale price, length of time to close, etc. These will be enumerated in the contract. And that may be amended several times before closing.
- Both buyer and seller sign a contract together – We’ve reached the stage of being under contract. The contract is typically contingent on additional things like financing and inspection results. These both allow for the buyer or the seller to back out if necessary.
- Buyer’s earnest money is deposited into an escrow account – As part of the contract, the buyer offers earnest money to demonstrate seriousness of their offer. In some instances, it makes sense to try to sway the seller with more than 5% of the purchase price. But the buyer’s agent can advise on what makes sense. The typical earnest money deposit varies of course. But it is generally about 10% of a home’s purchase price. That means a $300,000 home might call for an earnest money deposit of $30,000.00
- Buyer gets their mortgage lined up with a lender – If the buyer is borrowing money in order to finance their purchase, they will need to disclose enough information to convince the lender that they will be able to pay off their mortgage.
- Home is inspected – Both of these actions are critical for the contract. Inspection is the buyer’s chance to have an expert look over the home. They’ll do this with a fine-toothed comb to identify any maintenance issues with the home. Inspection is typically followed by a negotiation. The buyer will then object to items found during the inspection. And the two parties will negotiate on resolutions. Inspection resolutions typically consist of financial concessions or agreements to complete the repairs before closing.
- Home is appraised – The appraisal is the lender’s chance to evaluate the home. An appraiser assesses the value of the home. This is to make sure the buyer and their lender are making a wise financial choice. If the appraisal comes in low, the buyer and seller will need to work together to figure out how to cover the difference between the two prices.
- Deal is closed – Now the house is not just under contract. The finish line has been reached. And the ownership changes hands from the seller to the buyer.
A house is technically under contract in real estate when a buyer makes an offer and the seller accepts it to transfer ownership to the buyer. But contracts aren’t legally enforceable until someone puts them down in writing. So most people consider a home under contract only when the final side of the agreement signs it. And this signed document is the agreement by the seller to sell the house to the buyer.
Additionally, the buyer needs to give the seller something of value not only to make the contract valid but to signify seriousness for both the buyer and the seller. In most home sale transactions, this is called earnest money. And buyers put this into escrow.
If the deal goes through, this earnest money goes toward the house’s purchase price. And if the buyer violates the contract, the seller typically gets to keep the earnest money. But if the seller violates the contract or the deal fails for a reason that was no fault of the buyer, the buyer typically gets their earnest money back.
Contingencies under contract in real estate can be any number of stipulations in the contract, either from the buyer or the seller. This can commonly involve the buyer’s right to inspect the home. And the buyer needing to secure financing to cover the agreed-upon purchase price.
This home sale would proceed only if the stipulations are met, or some other arrangement around it is made, such as compensation or subsequent offers to fix home inspection issues from the seller.
And the home’s status changes back to “active,” if the sale falls through and the home goes back on the market. The status changes to “pending,” if all the contingencies are met and agreed upon.
What is the difference between sale pending and under contract?
Sale pending is a component of the house being under contract. And this is really the last stage of the contract, between numbers 7 and 8 above. Once all contingencies are accounted for, then the sale of the house is pending.
Can buyers still make an offer while sale is pending under contract?
Sometimes buyers will find a home they are interested in after it already goes under contract.. In this situation, it is sometimes possible, sometimes not possible to submit an offer on the house.
If the seller is interested, the buyer can sometimes submit an offer on a house that’s already under pending sale. This is typically known as a backup offer. It definitely helps if the buyer’s potential offer on the pending sale house is higher, quicker, or otherwise more appealing to the seller than the previous offer.
There could also be components in the pending sale involving short sales, and closing times that extend to more than 4 months, or longer in which case the buyer may default on both, allowing the seller to entertain new offers from other buyers.
If the seller is not interested in going through the whole process again with a different buyer, some over-the-top late offers are still not enough, especially if the buyer’s financials and timing are rock-solid.
There is always a small chance it won’t work out, as the average real estate contract failure rate is around 4%, as reported by Zillow and HomeGo . It’s small but existent. But if the buyer and seller align, everything is followed and completed to the letter in the transaction process noted above, then there should be a successful change in ownership that’s satisfactory to both the buyer and the seller.