As winter approaches, buyers in the U.S. and Europe could be eyeing homes on the Caribbean islands with warm weather and scenic beauty. But a Caribbean home isn’t a refuge just for the winter. Anyone from anywhere with a dream of owning a tropical paradise can invest in a Caribbean property. However, there could be some hurdles. Even when you desire to buy a Caribbean property, you may not be sure of the locations that you should focus upon, what type of property to buy, the buying process, or the budget that you should have.
To help you navigate such hurdles and find the right answers, we bring you this Caribbean property buying guide. By reading this guide, you’ll understand the essential aspects of the Caribbean property market and its opportunities for overseas buyers like you. So, let’s cut to the chase and dive in.
The Property Market in the Caribbean Region
From Tobago, located in the south, to the islands that make up The Bahamas in the north, the Caribbean region that spans almost 1,500 miles is exceptionally diverse. The diversity would go up by a few notches if you consider the Wider Caribbean basin region that consists of Central American countries bordering the Caribbean Sea.
The Caribbean regions differ significantly with respect to their climate and geography, economy, legal systems, culture, and political scenario. For instance, if you consider the weather, Curacao is pretty dry, but it has torrential rainfall at times. Contrast it with the British Virgin Islands that experience a lot of rain showers. Thus, even when the Caribbean is famous for its year-round sunshine, the local climate can have a lot of influence on what type of weather you’ll enjoy. Additionally, it’s crucial to find hurricane-proof homes, provided you’re considering buying a property in a region that has a history of being struck by hurricanes.
Several Caribbean islands have a significant population of people who speak French, English, Dutch, Spanish, etc. Some even offer citizenships against investments in real estate properties, which is worth considering. It would help if you thought about these and other factors like the types of property on offer, their price range, the time taken to reach them from your place of residence overseas, the region’s climate and landscape, its people and their lifestyle, etc. Thus, overall consideration of all these is crucial to make an informed and wise decision.
Property Prices in the Caribbean
Just like the climate, Caribbean property prices vary widely from location to location. If you’re looking to invest in luxury real estate and don’t mind paying a premium price, you could check out properties on the Platinum Coast of Barbados, St. Barts, Anguilla, the Turks & Caicos Islands, etc. You could even focus on some of the exclusive gated communities in the Bahamas though even medium-sized, beachfront homes could set you back by more than $2 million. The U.S. and British Virgin Islands could be other regions to go house-hunting but be ready to shell out over $285,000 for a two-bedroom home located in a friendly neighborhood.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, don’t get disheartened. Just look elsewhere where the average property prices tend to be much lower. While some locations could have homes costing less than U.S. $200,000, others may offer you properties that cost under U.S. $100,000. For instance, in Jamaica or Puerto Rico, you could get properties that are just under U.S. $200,000. Again, suppose you have your eyes set on the tropical haven of the Dominican Republic. In that case, you could buy a newly-built modern villa near the beach or a small house in a gated community at just $162,500 and $130,000, respectively.
Typically, the per square meter cost of Caribbean properties escalates if they’re located at the heart of the region’s financial or administrative capital, or are at the center of the rental market, or function as the party hotspot. But if it’s a buyer’s market, you could get great price discounts or even enjoy low-ball offers. So, consider all these aspects and judge the property market in your desired location before proceeding further.
Caribbean Real Estate – What Are Your Options?
After you have finalized the region where you want to buy your Caribbean property, you would need to decide what type of property would best suit your lifestyle.
As mentioned before, the Caribbean is a region of diversity, which applies to the properties made available for sale. From luxury villa rentals, boutique hotels, and private island retreats to resorts, affordable condos, and apartments, a lot’s on offer here.
Whether you’re looking for a beachfront villa on the Platinum Coast of Barbados, a 6-bedroom stunning mansion located in the gated community of Coral Views, or a luxury home in Roatan’s West Bay, you can have them all and much more.
If affordable Caribbean real estate is what you need, you could find some ultra-contemporary condos put up for sale in Puerto Rico and Grand Cayman. For instance, in Puerto Rico, you could choose between this 1-bedroom-2-bath condominium in the Bahia Marina complex on the Island of Culebra, and this 1-bed-1-bath Costa Bonita unit costs under U.S. $175,000. You may even find affordable properties to your liking in Jamaica, Noord (in Aruba), and Roatan.
Ultimately, it’s your choice to decide what type of property would suit your needs and lifestyle.
What is the Cheapest Island to Buy Caribbean Real Estate?
Often, your budget is a decisive factor when buying a Caribbean property. If you’ve got budgetary restraints, it’s best to focus on Caribbean locations where the average property prices tend to be comparatively lower. But where can you buy the cheapest property in the Caribbean?
The property costs in islands like the Cayman Islands, the Turks & Caicos Islands, and St. Barts, which are known to offer luxury accommodation options to the rich and famous, could run into tens of millions. However, you can find much more affordable properties in some other locations. For example, Roatan, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica offer some excellent Caribbean real estate options that are easy on the pocket and provide significant value for money.
Property in the Caribbean – Can Foreigners Buy It?
Most Caribbean destinations allow foreign nationals to buy property though there could be specific restrictions in place. In some cases, it might be a long-drawn-out process, primarily due to bureaucracy and cultural differences.
When buying a Caribbean property, you’ll need to consider certain things like how you’ll finance the purchase, the fees payable to your attorney and real estate agent, and the associated costs you’ll incur. If you aren’t opting for a cash purchase, you’ll need to seek pre-approval from lenders for a mortgage before starting your property search. Residents of certain countries are eligible for such mortgages if they want to buy a second home or vacation home in particular Caribbean jurisdictions.
The main Caribbean institutions that offer mortgages are Scotia Bank, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, and The Royal Bank of Canada. Typically, loans from around $250,000 to $2 million are made available for a maximum of 15 to 20 years. Factors they will consider are your country of residence, the loan-to-value (LTV), the buying price, and which island the property is on. Also, the interest could vary from 0.50% to 3.5% per annum.
You’ll also need adequate funds to pay the fees of your real estate agent and your attorney (attorney fees are about 1% to 3% plus VAT) along with land transfer taxes that depend on your property’s size and condition.
Perhaps you’re wondering why you would need an agent or an attorney. Keep in mind that the buying process, including the legal aspects involved along with the related taxes and fees, varies significantly across the Caribbean. For instance, non-nationals in the British Virgin Islands need to get a Non-Belonger Land Holding License when buying or leasing a property. Thus, hiring a competent real estate agent and an attorney becomes essential.
The Process of Buying Property in the Caribbean
The buying process differs from one Caribbean island to the other. For example, in the English-speaking regions like Antigua and Barbados, and Saint Lucia, English law influences the buying process. But when you move to the French Caribbean areas such as St. Barts, St. Martin, and Martinique, you’ll find the buying process reflecting France’s general procedure. Thus, you should ideally consult your attorney to get proper guidance and advice regarding the property buying process before you move ahead to finalize the transaction.
Want to Know More About Buying a Property in the Caribbean?
If you need more details about buying a property in the Caribbean, you can browse our website or contact us as we’re one of the leading luxury real estate specialists in the Caribbean. We can also help you find affordable Caribbean properties to suit your budget and lifestyle.
If you’ve got any questions or want to discuss your buying options, we would love to talk to you and help you find your dream property in the tropical paradise of the Caribbean.