Expatify

Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Buying Real Estate in Jamaica

Many expats are looking to Jamaica for retirement properties. However, they should realize that you have to hire an attorney to buy Jamaica real estate, and that there are some different forms of proper titles of property.

Attorneys and Real Estate Agents

You should hire an attorney to help you along with the process of buying real estate in Jamaica. The laws are old and complicated, so this will help ease up the process. They will also help you with some of the research and bureaucratic measures.

You may do your search through a Jamaican real estate agency, but this is not necessary. There are many established expat areas, and therefore agents, in Jamaica.

Rules, Regulations and Restrictions

The Jamaican real estate system is still governed by the old English common law and Torrens title system. While the real estate laws in England proper have changed, Jamaica is still under this seemingly obsolete system. It is long, expensive and bureaucratic to put up with. This is why it is recommended to work with an attorney who is well-versed in the real estate laws in Jamaica.

Apart from the old legal system, there are no legal restrictions on foreign ownership of property.

There are two different types of property ownership in Jamaica: the Common Law Title and the Registered Title. The Registered Title is more official, so you probably want to go after this one.

Using foreign currency for real estate transactions in Jamaica must be approved by the Bank of Jamaica. It is preferred that you use Jamaican currency.

General Process

First, you should settle on a property, and make an offer to the seller.

Second, you should conduct a land survey and title search, to make sure the property has no defects, and that the seller is indeed the owner of the property. If everything goes satisfactory, then you should lodge a caveat on the property to hold it has their own. You must then obtain the original title document from the Office of Land and Titles. Your attorney can help you with this.

Afterwards, an Agreement for Sale must be drawn up. This is usually written up by the seller’s lawyer. You and then seller must then sign this contract, either in the presence of a lawyer, or at the agency (if you are doing this through a real estate agency). You’ll then have to put down a deposit, which is usually 10-20%, and a stamp tax.

When you sign this agreement, it is then binding on both parties. You must also have gotten permission from the Exchange Control Department of the Bank of Jamaica before you sign the purchase agreement.

After this contract is signed, it must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar of Titles. You must then pay some taxes to them.

The sale is completed with the transfer of deed is issued. This will be issued when the balance of the payment is done, either through cash or mortgage arrangements. It usually takes around 54 days to complete registering a property into your name.

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