Top 10 Caribbean Real Estate Tips
We love Caribbean real estate, and you do to, that’s why you are here reading this blog. We want to help you as much as we can when it comes to Caribbean real estate and making the smartest purchase possible all while avoiding the pitfalls.
Why do people buy Caribbean real estate?
There are many reasons why people buy Caribbean real estate. Some people want to own their own place, while others want to take advantage of the investment opportunity. And then there are those who just want a place to call home.
Why buy in the Caribbean?
The Caribbean is a region that is known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back lifestyle. It’s no wonder why so many people are looking to buy property in this area.
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What you need to know before you buy:
What does it cost? What can I afford? How much do I need for down payment? How much can I afford monthly payment wise? Does my credit score affect me in a different region of the world? Buying a home with the help of a mortgage: What you need to know before you buy? What does it cost? How much can I afford monthly payment wise? How much do I need for down payment and closing costs? Does my credit score allow me to secure financing from the bank or mortgage company?
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The Caribbean is a popular destination for vacationing and buying a home. People buy homes in the Caribbean for many reasons, but there are some commonalities that are universal.
People buy homes for many reasons, but there are two main reasons for buying a home in the Caribbean: climate and location. The tropical climate means that you can enjoy outdoor activities year-round without having to worry about snow or ice. Plus, living on an island means that you’re always near some of the most beautiful beaches in the world – with just a few minutes’ drive or walk from your front door.
People buy Caribbean real estate because they want to live the life of luxury. The island offers an escape from their everyday lives and provides them with an opportunity to enjoy themselves. They want to be able to get away from it all and experience something new.
Many people buy homes in the Caribbean because they want to retire there or spend their golden years on the beach. They hope that one day they will be able to move away from their stressful jobs, live out their days in paradise, and enjoy retirement with no worries about work or money.
Buying a beach home is not only about the house. It’s about the lifestyle. You’ll be living in paradise, with the ocean and sand close by, and you’ll have access to some of the best beaches in the world. .There are two types of beach homes – beachfront and non-beachfront. Beachfront properties are those with a direct view of water, the waves, or a body of water such as the ocean or strand.
Non-beachfront properties have a view that’s not overlooking the ocean – they can be located on what is considered to be an inland oceanfront property, such as a bay or sound. What are the main costs of beach home ownership? The cost of owning a beach house includes the purchase price, property taxes and insurance, maintenance and repairs, initial construction costs (usually those in the first few years), and recurring costs such as utilities.
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In this blog we are going to tackle a few key issues that need to be addressed before you purchase Caribbean property. The Caribbean real estate market can be a crazy place and we want you to be prepared. It won’t matter if you are purchasing luxury Caribbean real estate or just a regular home, these tips can offer you some value and a new way of looking at things.
Things To Do Before You Buy Caribbean Real Estate:
1. Research the countries that offer tax incentives to purchase and all the laws concerning purchasing real estate as a foreigner. Maybe you can purchase in your name, or you should purchase with a corporation, LLC or another legal entity designated in that country. Always purchase foreign real estate in the most tax advantageous manner possible. Why not save tens of thousands of dollars?
2. Complete research about a country’s tourism and economic & infrastructure sector (assuming the gov. is stable). You don’t want to buy in a country that has a very limited window of tourism and can’t keep the water flowing.
3. Join Facebook expat groups and speak to them and find out about the area, what realtors to use, which ones to stay away from, the reality of vacation homes in that particular area, tourism in the area, tourism window, best property management companies to use and which ones to stay away from, how easy/hard it is for tourists to get around, etc..
4. Complete a Discovery Trip. Actually visit the country and property before you buy it, get to know the realtor/broker. While you are on the trip find out where the closest office is that offers tours, clinic, grocery store and car rental.
5. The purchasing contracts should be bilingual. Your title deed will be in the native language of that country. You can also pay a translation service on the island to provide a title deed for you in English (it won’t be an official title deed) but at least you know what it says.
6. Before you buy make sure the real estate lawyer and agent can provide you with a list of all fees you will have to pay for legal services and the property and other documents you will need. Translation fee, all service charges, apostille fee, etc.
7. Make sure you receive copies of everything you sign and everything is communicated clearly over email so you have a written record. Keep a digital record by scanning all documents and storing them on a USB or cloud service. Be sure to check out our blog before you buy Caribbean real estate in the Dominican Republic.
8. If you are purchasing a pre-construction then research the developer thoroughly. You don’t want a company to take your money, dig a hole in the ground and disappear. See if anyone in the Facebook expat groups has experience with them, etc.. Ask a lawyer if there is a national record of all property developers. Check to see if they are insured and have permits.
9. Home Insurance. You are in the Caribbean, hurricanes happen sometimes, we suggest you get it.
10. Realize that EVERYTHING moves at a slower pace.
What Should You Care About When It Comes To Caribbean Real Estate?
Responsiveness and honesty across the board when it comes to your questions. You should only deal with agents that get back to you (yes, some will ignore you) and agents that tell you the truth concerning the property/area that you are looking to buy in. This is why you join the Facebook expat groups in the particular country you are looking to purchase in so you can get the general consensus of market, agents, tourism, etc..
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I’m sure you know that things in the Caribbean move at a slower pace than they do in the US or Canada. Some lawyers, brokers, banks, real estate agents all move slow as well, also, don’t be surprised if some just flat out ignore you. It’s the cold reality because it’s bound to happen at some point in time.
If you are planning on opening a bank account or some other account with an agency in an official capacity don’t be surprised if you have to visit the bank/agency multiple times in order to get all the information/documents need to open an account. This also depends on the country you are in, some are more put together in that aspect than others. Just don’t be surprised if the worse case scenario happens where you have to visit the bank/agency 4 times in a month to open an account and you learn you need new documents each time you return. Or you turn everything in and they don’t even contact you for a month to a month and a half.
Getting a mortgage in the Caribbean is possible, you can even get pre-approved in just a couple of days, but most likely you won’t receive the money for 3-5 months. If you bother the bank about the loan process and why it’s taking so long and they will reject you and you won’t get the loan. The bank doesn’t care that you want the loan for the home before someone else comes along to get it, they move at their own pace. So is there an alternative?
Yes, this all depends on the country that you desire to buy in. “Associations” or private lenders. Maybe your best bet is to go through private lending to get that Caribbean dream home you have always wanted. It’s worth asking the real estate agent about.
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A Caribbean Real Estate Horror Story
We are going to share a story with you and why you should research the property management company before you sign any contracts. We also suggest you don’t have an individual take care of your property, always use a reputable company. Nothing ruins your day like getting a call and finding out your property has been rented out to multiple vacation goers over the last several months behind your back and you have missed out on thousands of dollars of profits.
Never under any circumstances use a single individual to manage your property. Always use a reputable property management company.
Then, on top of that, there is extremely limited legal action that can be taken due to the very sluggish and corrupt legal system. The money that should be in your pocket is gone. Always go with a reputable company and never an individual.
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Updating/Additions Concerning Caribbean Real Estate
When it comes to adding on another room, building a guest house, pool, whatever the case is make sure you research the laws concerning building on your property. We suggest asking 2 different lawyers the laws concerning building on your property, permits needed, etc. Do not become your own contractor, hire a reputable company to do the work for you especially if there is a language barrier.
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Most of the houses in the Caribbean are built with concrete and if you aren’t an experienced cement mason then you will be in over your head. You will need to be present during the construction process and learn as much as you can from a contractor because some contractors will try to cut corners, you don’t want that happening to your property.
Lifestyle In The Caribbean
So you want to move to the Caribbean full time? Before you buy a home make sure you rent in that area for 3-6 months to get a feel for the area, the people, what life is really like that. You may like it, or hate it. There is a HUGE difference visiting a country for a week or 2 versus actually living there. Every day there is a fantasy sold online concerning all the hot Caribbean vacation destinations and it looks great! But it’s a fantasy.
It’s just 1 second in time that is caught and projected on the internet and we subconsciously want to give it the benefit of doubt and believe that the picture we love so much is an accurate depiction of life in that country. It is not.
Your lifestyle in any Caribbean country will be extremely different than it was in the US or Canada. The weather, people and the overall flow of life is slower, many things you see don’t even make sense or are flat out dangerous but nobody cares. Be prepared for culture shock. It’s going to happen, no way to avoid it, just ride the wave. The cable company will tell you they will be there on Monday at 9 am but what they really mean is they will be there on Wednesday at 7 pm.
The repairman you called who said he is on his way over right now to fix your toilet may or may not show up. What are the chances he hangs up the phone, pops open a beer and starts watching TV? 50%.
This is why it is important that you research and speak to plenty of people on the Facebook expat groups who have lived or currently live in the country where you want to purchase Caribbean real estate, it can save you a lot of time, a massive headache and some serious money as well. You can learn from other people’s mistakes and the lessons they had to learn the hard way. If used correctly then Facebook can be a free education resource so take advantage of it.
You can also find plenty of videos on YouTube of people that have left the US or Canada to create a new life in the Caribbean. They post valuable videos with lots of insight and tips about life in the Caribbean, rent cost, average cost of bills, transportation, etc.. and whether that particular country lived up to their expectations or not. You can usually pull their email off their YouTube profile and reach out and see if they can answer any specific questions you may have, this is a method to find out important information if you don’t want to use Facebook.
You have to be creative when searching out the right information before buying Caribbean real estate and asking the right questions. Every social media platform is an educational resource if you can use it the right way.
Helping people is one of the most important things that we can do. It is our duty to provide assistance to those who need it and be a valuable resource for those who don’t. We should always be on the lookout for opportunities to help others. Whether it is lending a helping hand or providing value in the market, we should make sure that we are doing our part.
Helping people is important because it allows us to be a valuable resource to them. It also helps us find value in the market and industry that we are in. This is because contributing to the market and industry allows us to get a sense of what type of skills we have and what our value could be. When we help people with Caribbean real estate we have a sense of purpose within the market and industry that we are in. Moreover, when one helps people, they feel like they are helping society as a whole, especially those involved in Caribbean real estate.
We hope you learned a thing or two while taking in this blog, we always want to add value to the community of potential Caribbean real estate buyers. If we can save you time, headache and some money then we are happy! It’s very important to be a resource to the community and offer information and tips that you won’t find out there on the internet.
If you ever have any questions about purchasing Caribbean real estate then feel free to reach out to us, you can always send us an email. We usually respond within 24 hours. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to Caribbean real estate then don’t worry, that’s why we are here! Reach out to us anytime.