The Housing Transactions Act (843/1994) includes regulations on the sale of used residences. http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1994/en19940843.pdf

If you are considering buying a home

The vendor and the vendor´s estate agent (if the vendor has chosen to use one) are obliged to give you all information you need about the home and the housing company. The property manager cannot give any unofficial information or opinions about the home. All of the official information can be found in the documents ordered by the vendor.

As the buyer, you are responsible for understanding all of the information you have been given, asking for further information and finding out about the home and the housing company in sufficient depth. If you suspect that errors have been made, you must come to an agreement with the vendor about having the matter reviewed by an expert. After the sale, the vendor is only responsible for faults that you could not reasonably have been expected to notice before you signed the contract of sale. You must also tell the vendor if you notice an error.

A sales leaflet should be available at the viewing. This leaflet should include the floor plan, building manager´s certificate, housing company´s financial statements, articles of association, energy performance certificate and information about the condition of the building. This will enable you to form an opinion of the company´s financial position and technical condition. Both of these can significantly affect future living costs.

Make sure you find out the following:

  • The service charge and charges for utilities (property manager´s certificate and housing company´s budget)
  • The basis for setting the service charge and other fees (articles of association)
  • Any outstanding loans or service charges in arrears that are tied to the home (property manager´s certificate)
  • The housing company´s income and expenses (financial statements and budget)
  • Energy consumption and proposed measures to save energy (energy performance certificate)
  • The housing company´s liquidity position. The housing company should aim to have a cash sum equivalent to two to three months´ service charges to smooth out monthly fluctuations in costs and provide for unexpected expenses. (financial statements)
  • The division of responsibility for maintenance between the shareholders and the housing company (articles of association)
  • Your right to any storage areas, use of common areas and similar (articles of association)
  • Availability and means of assigning parking spaces, sauna times and similar (property manager´s certificate, vendor)
  • Completed and forthcoming renovations, estimated renovation costs in the next few years, the housing company´s maintenance programme (maintenance programme, long-term plan or board of directors´ analysis of maintenance needs)
  • The existence of a redemption clause in favour of the housing company or other shareholders (articles of association)

Ownership of shares in a housing company

When a home that is part of a housing company is sold, the sale consists of shares in the company that entitle the owner to occupy the home. Although share certificates may refer to several shares (such as shares numbered 1-24), these shares cannot be sold individually. The entire series, or a proportion of the entire series (such as 50%), can be sold.

All of the owners must approve the sale of a series of shares in a housing company (such as in the case of a deceased´s estate). The Local Register Office can authorise a sale on the behalf of a minor or person with no legal capacity.

For married couples or registered partners living in a shared home, the consent of both spouses or partners is required before the home can be sold, even if one of the spouses or partners does not own the shares.

The property management company keeps a record of the share owners in the housing company´s share register. The names of the registered owners are displayed on the property manager´s certificate. The vendor(s) must be registered in the housing company´s share register as the owners of the shares that they are selling. Please contact the property secretary if the records are not up to date.

Lawyers may be able to help if there is confusion regarding ownership or the related documents.

If you are selling your home yourself, you will also need forms or example documents such as a binding purchase agreement and a contract of sale. You can buy forms from bookshops and on the internet. The contract of sale must include the following information: detailed contact information for the vendor and the buyer, the asset being sold, the sale price, payment of the sale price, transfer of ownership, change in occupancy of the home, transfer of costs related to the home, transfer of share certificates, collateral, obligation to pay asset transfer tax, equipment in the home or other property being sold along with the home, and the signatures of the parties to the agreement.

Note that

Note that if the building´s pipes are renovated, it may be necessary to strip out the bathroom or kitchen and the housing company may only pay for them to be reinstalled to a basic level. It is not a good idea to invest large amounts of money in kitchens or bathrooms in a building that has a pipe renovation coming up within ten years.

Discuss with the vendor which equipment and other property is included in the sale. For example, when a terraced house is sold, there are occasionally differences of opinion over who owns the plants in the garden.

Make sure that the vendor has the right to sell the home. The owners are listed on the property manager´s certificate. The share register is a public document that you can order from the property secretary if necessary.

Becoming a shareholder

As a buyer, you must notify the tax administration when you buy shares in a housing company and you must pay asset transfer tax. You must notify the tax administration within the period defined for paying the tax. http://www.vero.fi/en-US/Individuals/Buying_a_home/Buying_shares_in_a_housing_company(17572)

The housing company must be informed of the change of owner and the transfer of the obligation to pay service charges. When you have paid the asset transfer tax, you should send proof of this payment along with a copy of the contract of sale to the property manager. You will then be entered into the housing company´s share register.

The contract of sale must include the following information: detailed contact information for the vendor and the buyer, the asset being sold, the sale price, payment of the sale price, transfer of ownership, change in occupancy of the home, transfer of costs related to the home, transfer of share certificates, collateral, obligation to pay asset transfer tax, equipment in the home or other property being sold along with the home, and the signatures of the parties to the agreement. If any of the terms of sale are conditional (for example, ownership is to be transferred when the sale price is paid in full) you must send proof that you have fulfilled the conditions to the property manager before you can be entered into the share register.

You should also notify the maintenance company and property manager of your new address. If you have submitted a change-of-address notification to the post office or Population Register Centre, these companies will not automatically receive the information. Sauna times, parking spaces and other common facilities may only be used when your information has been entered into the relevant systems. If you are locked out of your home, the maintenance company will only open the door for you if your details are in the register of occupants.

Are you planning to renovate your home before you move?

You must inform the property manager of any renovations that you plan to make to your home. By law, notifications can take a maximum of one month to be processed. If you are planning a renovation for which you need permission, you must not begin work until you have received permission. You may also be given instructions on how to do the work. You can only submit notification if you are the registered owner of the shares. Make sure that your ownership is registered if you are planning a renovation.

Preparing to sell your home

If you are selling your home, you are obliged to give buyers or agents all of the information they need about your home. This includes any information that could be expected to influence the price and the buyer´s decision-making process, so be honest and careful with the information you give. The majority of the information is included on the property manager´s certificate and related documents.

If you sell your home yourself, you must obtain the documents yourself. You can find advice, guidelines, example documents and forms on the internet. If you use an estate agency, the estate agent will obtain all of the necessary documents and draft the contract of sale. The Central Federation of Finnish Real Estate Agencies provides information on good agency practices and reliable estate agents on its website. http://kvkl.fi/in_english.html

Remember to order your documents in good time. It takes two to three working days for a property manager´s certificate to be delivered. Express orders are subject to an extra fee. Documents that are delivered by post will come with an invoice. If you choose to collect your documents from our customer service point, you can pay in cash or by card. If you have outstanding invoices for documents, you will have to pay for new orders in cash.

Check the documents carefully. Contact the property secretary if you think that the information is incorrect or if there are any discrepancies. The documents contain only official information. The property manager cannot give any unofficial information (such as the reputation of the neighbourhood) or anticipate the decisions that the general meeting of shareholders may take on matters such as renovations or the service charge.

The property manager´s certificate is valid for three months, after which a new certificate must be ordered. It is not necessary to reorder all of the supporting documents unless a general meeting of shareholders has taken place in the mean time.

Check the listings of other vendors for information on the asking prices of similar homes. The asuntojen.hintatiedot.fi website provides information on actual sale prices http://asuntojen.hintatiedot.fi/haku/. The property manager cannot give you information about actual sale prices or the price level in the area because he/she does not have comparable information about the condition of the homes or the terms of the sale.

Residents are legally obliged to inform the property manager of renovations in accordance with a law that came into force on 1 July 2010. This means that any renovations or changes made before that date will not be included on the property manager´s certificate. Instead, the vendor is responsible for finding out about such changes.

Put yourself in the buyer´s position and think what you would like to know. It is a good idea to find out about common areas and the extent and availability of services that the housing company offers (such as the price of parking spaces, how they are assigned and the status of the waiting list). You are also obliged to tell potential buyers about any things that might negatively affect their decision to buy your home (such as noise, disturbances, smells or disputes within the housing company).

The City of Espoo´s website provides a lot of information about services in the area and town planning.

http://www.espoo.fi/en-US

HRT´s Journey Planner provides information about public transport. http://www.reittiopas.fi/en/

Documents required for the sale of apartment, etc.

Required documents:what information is included?
Property manager´s certificate, provided by the property secretary

  • The identification of the residence (e.g., A1)
  • The size of the residence (floor area in accordance with the articles of association)
  • Owner as recorded in the share register
  • Service charge, charges in arrears
  • Information about the building and the plot
  • The housing company´s financial standing, loans
  • Completed and forthcoming renovations

Financial statements, appendices to the property manager´s certificate

  • Annual report of the board of directors
  • Income statement
  • Balance sheet
  • Auditor´s statement
  • Operational auditor´s statement, if applicable

Budget, appendix to the property manager´s certificate

  • The housing company´s income (service charges, utility charges, rent) and expenses (management costs, maintenance, renovations and financing)
  • Forthcoming renovations and acquisitions

Articles of association, appendix to the property manager´s certificate

  • The official size of the residence (this may differ from the actual floor area considerably)
  • Intended use of the residence
  • The serial numbers of the shares that entitle the owner to occupy the residence
  • Common areas belonging to the housing company
  • Basis for setting the service charge
  • Redemption clauses = restrictions that may apply to the transfer of shares
  • Any rules that apply to maintenance (for example, the division of responsibility for renovations and the division of costs between shareholders and the housing company may differ from the norm).

Maintenance programme, appendix to the building manager´s certificate if the housing company has prepared such a programme

  • The types of renovation that the property will require in the next few years
  • The best way to handle these renovations
  • How much the renovations are expected to cost and how the costs will be financed

The floor plan of the residence, to be ordered separately from the customer service point

  • Line drawing of the residence´s floor plan either to scale or "not to scale"