An Expat’s Guide To Purchasing Property In The Bahamas 2022
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An Expats Guide To Purchasing Property In The Bahamas—In the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas are made up of 700 islands and 2,400 cays. It is situated between Cuba and Florida to the north and southeast, respectively. Nearly 400,000 people live in the archipelago state, the bulk of whom are of West African heritage. The remaining population is made up of descendants of European and Latin American immigrants.
The Bahamas is one of the wealthiest countries in the Americas, with tourism and financial services providing the bulk of the country’s revenue. These industries also employ 50% of the workforce. These are the two industries where expats are most likely to find work. The Bahamas attracts expats for a variety of reasons.
Many of them are retired people who want to spend their golden years on the islands. Expats will find an excellent healthcare system in the Bahamas, with numerous contemporary facilities that are well-equipped and staffed by highly skilled personnel. The islands’ primary language is English, and they have a number of local and international schools. The Bahamas, with its tropical beaches and clear waters, is the ideal destination for people seeking a laid-back lifestyle.
The Bahamas attracts a wide range of property investors, from those who have purchased multi million-dollar estate properties to those who choose condominiums or homes priced between $150,000 and $400,000. Because of the desirable locations, particularly in the New Providence and Paradise Island regions, as well as a stable investment climate, demand for upmarket investment properties with strong property returns has surged. The laid back Bahamian lifestyle is a big draw for property purchasers.
Is It Possible For Expats To Own Property In The Bahamas
The International Persons Landholding Act of 1993, which allows non-Bahamians to own property in the Bahamas, allows non-Bahamians to buy property in the Bahamas. Non-Bahamians must get various licences under the Act if they:
The land being purchased is over 2 acres in size.
The goal is to rent out the entire property or a portion of it.
The land being purchased will be developed for commercial purposes.
Expats who buy land that does not require a permit must register the property with the Foreign Investment Board.
Expats must also register their property with the Central Bank of the Bahamas’ Exchange Control Department to ensure that when the resale occurs, they will be able to transfer the net selling money outside the Bahamas in the currency of the initial investment.
The majority of real estate in the Bahamas is sold as a freehold. Typically, the leasehold holdings are Crown Lands (state-owned land) that are used for development or agriculture.
Do You Require The Assistance Of An Attorney While Purchasing Real Estate
When purchasing property in the Bahamas, it is not required to use a local attorney, but it is strongly advised. An attorney will make certain that the title’s documentation are in order. A local attorney also represents the buyer and gives his or her opinion on the property’s title. The opinion is akin to title insurance in that it holds the lawyer liable if the buyer discovers a title problem.
Expenses Incurred During The Buying Of A Home
Expenses incurred during the buying of a home
Costs To The Seller
In the Bahamas, it is customary to present the sales price as a gross price. The seller must pay half of the government stamp tax on the conveyance, as well as the real estate agent’s fees and the seller’s legal fees, in a gross sale.
The buyer is responsible for paying half of the government stamp tax on the conveyance as well as his or her legal fees.
On January 1, 2015, the government implemented a 7.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on all real estate conveyances, commissions, and legal expenses.
Expats will be entitled to repatriate the entire amount, including any profits, after selling the property. This is only possible if the purchase was recorded with the Central Bank’s Exchange Control Department at the time of purchase.
Is It Essential To Obtain Special Approvals In Order To Make Changes To An Existing Property
To build on a property or make changes to an existing structure, expats must obtain clearance from the Town Planning Board and a permit from the Ministry of Works. An architect or engineer in the area can help expats.
Architects, Contractors, And Engineers Are All Involved
There are numerous qualified architects, contractors, and engineers in the Bahamas. Most architects are globally accredited and have received their education in nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, or Canada. Architects in the Bahamas are licensed by a local board. When it comes to contractors, the licensing requirements are less stringent, but the building business is controlled. The majority of good contractors are civil engineers with international accreditation. They have certified engineers on staff as well. A few of the smaller contractors are highly proficient at residential construction and have gone via the apprentice system. Many civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers in the Bahamas have received training in other countries with international accreditation and hold licenses from local boards, similar to architects.
Expats can hire a non-resident architect if they obtain a permit, as all building plans submitted to the Town Planning Board and Ministry of Works must include the signatures of a licensed architect and local engineers.
Brokers And Sales Representatives
The Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA), an international member of the National Association of Realtors, licenses brokers and sales agents in the Bahamas (NAR). Many BREA members are foreign members who hold various NAR accreditations. It is recommended that expats use the services of a BREA member when purchasing or selling real estate.
Is It Possible For Non-Bahamians And Permanent Residents To Obtain Local Financing
Yes, but the loan will most likely be provided in US dollars at international rates. Typically, a down payment of 40% of the purchase price is required.
There are no income taxes, capital gains taxes, or inheritance taxes in the Bahamas. There is likewise no sales tax, with the exception of Stamp Duty + Value Added Tax, which is imposed on property conveyance. The VAT (7.5%) is a consumption tax that is due on all property conveyances, commissions, and legal costs, and was imposed by the Bahamas government on January 1, 2015. The government obtains revenue via customs duties imposed on items imported into the Bahamas, as there are no income taxes, capital gains taxes, or inheritance taxes. The typical duty rate is around 35%, and in most situations, the 7.5 percent VAT is added on top of the tax.
Stamp Duty Tax
Stamp duty, which is a tax on the transfer of property, is a graduated tax with the following total amount imposed:
When the consideration is less than $100,000, the charge is 2.5 percent.
When the consideration is valued at $100,000 or more, the rate is 10%.
The 7.5 percent VAT on commercial property sales over $100,000 can be claimed as a credit or netted off by VAT registrants.
Unless additional arrangements are agreed upon, it is common in the Bahamas for the buyer and seller to split the tax equally. First-time home buyers may be excused from paying Stamp Duty on a residential property or unoccupied land purchased for residential purposes up to the value of $500,000.
Tax on real estate
The taxable value of a property is determined by the most recent selling price. The buyer of undeveloped land is required to declare the worth of improvements as they occur. Those with an annual homeowner’s permit can claim their primary abode as their primary residence.
The following are the real estate tax rates:
The first $250,000 in market value is exempt from taxation.
The rate is 3/4 of one percent on homes valued between $250,000 and $500,000 that are owned or occupied by the owner.
The tax rate on the portion of the property worth more than $500,000 is 1% of the market value.
More than $5,000,000 in market value is worth 25% of the total.
Other than property exempt under Section 39 of the Real Property Tax Act, unimproved Bahamas property:
A fee of $100.00 is charged on the portion of the market value that does not exceed $7,000.
A tax rate of 1.5 percent per year on the market value of the Bahamas property on that portion of the market value that exceeds $7,000
In the case of business property:
A tax of one percent per annum of the market value on the portion of the market value that does not exceed $500,000;
A tax of 2% of the market value of the Bahamas property is levied on the portion of the market value that exceeds $500,000.
The market value of a property is the amount it would fetch if it were to be sold on the open market with no limitations. If the owner fails to file the return, he is in violation of the law and may face a fine if convicted. False statements can result in fines, jail time, or both. If the tax is not remitted on or before the due date, a surcharge is applied.
Getting A Residency Permit In The Bahamas
The Bahamas’ government has established standards that allow non-Bahamians to settle in the country. There are two sorts of permanent residency: permanent residency with the ability to work and permanent residency without the ability to work. The investment of at least $500,000 in the Bahamas is one of the requirements for gaining permanent residency. This investment can be made by purchasing real estate worth at least $500,000. Expats who own property in the Bahamas can apply for a homeowner’s residence card from the Director of Immigration, which can be renewed yearly and allows the owner, spouse, and minor children endorsed on the card to enter and live in the Bahamas for the period of the card’s validity. The card allows visitors to enter the Bahamas with the fewest possible formalities.
Apart from enjoying a relaxing lifestyle in a nice setting, citizens of countries with high personal and corporate income taxes, as well as inheritance taxes, can benefit from tax advantages in the Bahamas. The tax benefits vary depending on the applicant’s citizenship and the tax laws of his or her home country.
Citizenship In The Bahamas
It is possible to gain Bahamas citizenship, however it is a time-consuming process. Long-term permanent residents and Bahamian spouses will have an easier time obtaining citizenship.
Obtaining Financing For The Purchase Of Real Estate In The Bahamas
Obtaining financing for the purchase of property on the islands is simple. Mortgages are available from most major banks and life insurance firms to Bahamians and permanent residents. Some of them have periods as long as 25 years and just require a 10% down payment.
Foreign nationals can get mortgages from major banks and lending organizations, however interest rates, limitations, and down payments vary per institution.
Architecture In The Bahamas
The Bahamas’ traditional architecture is colonial with island influences. Dormer windows are common on residential structures, as are high-pitched wood shingle roofs. Traditional hardwood covered verandahs and French doors with double hung windows and loured shutters are seen on the top levels. Commercial buildings usually have a magnificent entrance with colonial-style columns and dormer windows. Covered verandahs and double-hung windows have been removed in many recent renovations. Buildings today make better use of available space.
The gated residential estates on New Providence and Paradise Island are particularly popular with foreigners. Harbour Island, Eleuthera; Hope Town, Abaco; and George Town, Exuma and the Exuma chain of islands are among the most popular residential areas.
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