Many of the guests who stay with us at Harbour View fall in love with the charm of Exuma and express the wish that they could buy a home on this island paradise.
So let’s explore the idea. The Bahamas does not have income tax, does not have capital gains tax, does not have inheritance tax and with low mortgage rates, now could be a good time to invest. Let’s see what is involved in having a second home in The Bahamas once you have decided that Exuma is the place to be.
One of your first decisions would be whether to buy an existing home or whether to buy land and build your dream home. Tempting as it is, the latter is much more difficult, stressful, time consuming and costly.
To buy an existing home is pretty straightforward. Agree a price with the seller, hire a lawyer, you will already have arranged finance, have the property surveyed and sign the contract.
To have a house built involves finding and agreeing the price of the lot. Hiring a lawyer to check the title and ensure clear ownership, paying any outstanding property tax on the land. Then hiring an architect and getting plans drawn. Submitting the plans to the planning department. Waiting for their response and making any changes that they determine are necessary. Choosing a local builder (has to be Bahamian) and arranging payment terms. Flying to the US to order building supplies and arrange shipping. Negotiate with customs and pay the 35% import duty. Arrange to have materials delivered to your site. Hope that you have a responsible builder to complete the stages you have agreed. Fly down to the island to check that what you have paid for has been accomplished. Hire a plumber, hire a painter, hire an electrician and trust that they will deliver what you request. Get Bahamas Power and light to couple you to their grid ($1000 minimum). Get building inspector to sign off and get your occupancy certificate.
Is your head spinning yet? By now at least 9 months will have passed.
So if you want a simple life, buy an existing home.
Let’s now look at the expenses involved in buying your home in Exuma.
There is stamp tax currently at 10%, an expense shared between both parties.
There is the buyers legal fees to his retained Bahamian lawyer. Then there is VAT (value added tax) at 12.5% on the service fees. The realtors commission is usually paid by the seller.
One very important option in the purchasing is to consider “owner financing”. Let’s consider an example:
Your finances plus the mortgage you have been approved for come to $500,000 but you fall in love with a house costing $700,000. This is where owner financing can play a role. The owner agrees that the $200,000 you are short can be paid to the owner over a given period of time, say 5 years. Basically the owner is providing the buyer a private mortgage over the agreed time period, with an agreed interest added and hefty penalties if the buyer defaults.
So where can you find your dream home? Best place is one of the websites from the realtors. These include, in no particular order:
Seahorse Realty owned and operated by Judy Hurlock
or contact the writer for more information.
If you want to explore the property market why not stay at Harbour View for a week or more and we will share our 20 years of living on a tropical island with you.