How to Buy a Home on the Bahamas
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How to Buy a Home in the Bahamas

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - November 23, 2016

If you’re looking to move to an island in the Caribbean, there is so much to think about, from the environment to the cost of living to the culture. And those are factors that can be vastly different from island to island.

But the most important thing is this: how to actually go about buying a home.

To learn more, we talked to Heather Lightbourn-Peterson, Broker/Previews Specialist at Coldwell Banker Lightbourn Realty in Nassau, Bahamas. Here’s what she had to tell us.

Why buy a home in the Bahamas? 

Besides the wonderful climate, stable government, proximity to the United States, low taxes (including no income taxes) a purchaser can obtain permanent residence with a home purchase of a minimum of $500,000. An investment of $1.5 million provides accelerated consideration for the application. A well chosen property can provide a decent rate of return in the rental market.

What’s the real estate market like right now? 

The real estate market is doing really well. There are a lot of properties moving at the moment as it’s the perfect time to buy. It is a buyer’s market, particularly for properties generally in excess of the $700,000 range. Properties are for sale on several islands at varying prices.

A listing in Andros island.

A listing in Andros island.

What’s the average price for a beachfront home? What about a condo? What about an inland property? 

Beachfront prices vary greatly depending on the particular island in the Bahamas.

For instance, in New Providence, beachfront homes are hard to find and are mainly limited to high end gated communities, such as Lyford Cay, Old Fort Bay and Paradise Island where you would expect to spend at least $3 million.

A home for sale on Rose Island off the coast of Nassau. Click here for more information.

A home for sale on Rose Island off the coast of Nassau. Click here for more information.

Beachfront condos are more affordable and a basic condo in a beachfront community can start around $300,000. Interior condos in suitable areas would start at around $350,000 and homes slightly higher.  Some of our Out Islands offer more affordable options, for example,Treasure Cay and Abaco offer condos starting around $235,000 with beach access.

Are there certain areas of the Bahamas that are better for buyers right now? 

Generally speaking, the Out Islands (islands other than Nassau) offer better “deals.” However, Nassau provides a larger selection.

How long does it typically take to purchase a home? 

Ideally two months. However, issues such as needing mortgage financing can extend closings.

What are the taxes like?  

Homes and condos which are occupied by the owner have no property tax on the first $250,000; for the next $250,000 the rate is 0.75 percent and the value over $500,000 is taxed at 1 percent with a $50k ceiling. A 7.5 percent VAT tax is charged on goods and services. On a real estate transaction, lawyer’s fees and the real estate commission incur the 7.5 percent vat tax. A 10 percent charge on real estate transactions over $100k (made up of 7.5 percent vat tax and 2.5% stamp duty) is paid upon completion of a sale and this charge is generally divided equally between buyer and seller. There are no income, inheritance or capital gains taxes.

Can I get a mortgage?  

Yes. Generally, a 30 percent deposit is required with interest rates slightly higher than in the US prime rate.

What do foreign buyers need to know about buying a home in the Bahamas?  

Get a well-qualified lawyer (your realtor can likely make a recommendation) and a  licensed BREA realtor who has experience working with foreign buyers.

What is it like to buy a home in some of the more remote islands of the Bahamas?

Generally more bang for the buck. However, there will be less amenities available. There will be a more laid back atmosphere, which is ideal for buyers looking for a true “island living” feel.

Where are you seeing the most interest right now?  

Properties priced around the $500,000 range, or $1.5million are sought after by foreign buyers looking for residency status, so we have a lot of activity in both price points. Gated communities are most popular in Nassau due to the various amenities, especially options with a community beach access. In the Out Islands, Harbour Island always does well and has some of the most exclusive properties on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world attracting affluent buyers from around the globe. Sales in Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera  have also picked up over the past few years with increased airlift to these islands.

For more information, visit Coldwell Banker Lightbourn Realty.

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