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Buyers Guide

Purchasing real estate in The Bahamas – for locals, visitors and first-time property owners-has become a simpler process.  Lenders and agents work together with a perspective property owner to process sales agreements, loan agreements and property documents. 

The Process:

  • Deposit is made by the Purchaser to secure the property.
  • Sales agreement is signed by the Purchaser and vendor’s attorney.
  • Purchaser’s attorney conducts a title search.  If the purchaser is non-Bahamian, the attorney also applies for certificate of registration/permits to The Bahamas Investment Authority.
  • Conveyance is prepared and executed by the vendor and if covenants are applicable the conveyance is signed by the Purchaser.
  • Balance of sales price is paid and disbursements are made.
  • Each party is responsible for their own legal fees, which are assumed at 2.5% per side, along with half of the Government Stamp Duty.  See rates of duty below.

Bahamian Purchasers

Please note that Stamp exemption is available for first-time buyers of properties under $500,000

Property Transactions

In New Providence, real estate agents charge a 10% commission on the sale of undeveloped property. The commission for developed property, whether residential or commercial, is 6%. Agents charge a 10% commission for Out Island property, whether land, home or commercial.

Stamp Duty

The government stamp duty on property conveyances or realty transfers is graded as follows:

Up to & including

Stamp duty

$0-$20,000

4%

$20,000.01-$50,000

6%

$50,000.01-$100,000

8%

$100,000.01-$250,000

10%

Over $250,000

12%

In property sales, the vendor and purchaser each pay half the stamp duty unless otherwise agreed. The lawyer who prepares the conveyance typically charges a fee of 2.5% of the sale price.

Generally, payment of commission, stamp duty, and legal fees fall upon the seller. Sometimes property owners list a net sales figure, in which case the agent adds those charges to the price quoted to prospective buyers. Stamp duty on mortgages is payable at a rate of 1% on the amount borrowed.

International Persons Landholding Act, 1993

The International Persons Landholding Act made it easier for non-Bahamians and companies under their control to own property.

  • A non-Bahamian or permanent resident who purchases or acquires an interest in a condominium or property to be used by him as a single family dwelling, or for construction of such a dwelling, must apply to the secretary to the Investments Board to register the purchase. Application for Registration Form 1 must be filed with the Bahamas Investment Authority, Office of the Prime Minister, along with proof ownership and payment of stamp duty and real property tax, and a banker's draft/postal money order for $25 made payable to the Public Treasury.
  • Upon receipt of the above, the acquisition is registered and a certificate of registration issued.
  • A permit to acquire property is required if the property is undeveloped land and the purchaser would become the owner of five or more contiguous acres. A permit is also required if the non-Bahamian intends to acquire land or an interest therein by way of freehold or leasehold, when the acquisition is not in accordance with (1).
  • Non-Bahamians who own homes in The Bahamas may apply to the Director of Immigration for an annual homeowner's residence card. This card entitles the owner, spouse and any dependent children to enter and remain in The Bahamas for the duration of the validity of the card. This is intended to facilitate entry, but it does not confer resident status in The Bahamas.

All applications for permits, along with fees made payable to the Public Treasury, should be submitted to the Bahamas Investment Authority for consideration by the Investments Board.

For more information see The International Persons Landholding Act

Fee Schedule

The schedule of fees for a certificate of registration and permit are:

Application for certificate of registration....................................................................$25
Application for permit................................................................................................$25

Upon issue of certificate of registration or issue of permit where:

  • The property value* is $50,000 and under.................................................$50
  • The property value is more than $50,000 but less than $101,000…......$75
  • The property value is $101,000 and over..................................................$100
  • Annual homeowner's residence card........................................................$500

 

*Value in relation to a lease is the annual rent reserved times the number of years.

Property Tax

Bahamians and non-Bahamians owning real property in The Bahamas must pay property tax. Returns are due on or before December 31 each year, and are filed with the Chief Valuation Officer. Taxes are paid to the Public Treasury and are as follows:

Rates of Taxes

Owner-occupied property (residential):

  1. The first $250,000 of market value*.........................................................exempt
  2. More than $250,000 and not exceeding $500,000 of market value.....3/4%
  3. More than $500,000 of market value.......................................................1%

Vacant land owned by non-Bahamians:

  1. First $3,000 of market value..................................................................$30
  2. More than $3,000 and not exceeding $100,000 of market value......1%
  3. More than $100,000 of market value....................................................1.5%

All other properties/commercial:

  1. First $500,000 of market value.............................................................1%
  2. More than $500,000 of market value....................................................2%

*Market value is defined as the amount the property would realize if sold on the open market without any encumbrances or restrictions.