Real Estate Transactions
Real estate commissions standardized by the Bahamas Real Estate Association are at 6% for developed properties and 10% for vacant land property in New Providence (Nassau). For out island property the real estate commission is 10% for all property. There are sometimes variations to the rule, but this is a general guideline.
The Government charges a stamp duty on all real estate transactions at closing. Rates are calculated based on the property sales price as follows:
|Up to & including||Stamp duty|
In property sales the standard procedure is for the buyer and seller to split the stamp duty 50/50.
A lawyer is typically used for handling real estate sale transactions and this is advisable. The normal legal charge is 2.5% of the sales price.
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.
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.
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):
- The first $250,000 of market value*.........................exempt
- More than $250,000
and not exceeding $500,000 of market value..................3/4%
- More than $500,000 of market value..........................1%
Vacant land owned by non-Bahamians:
- First $3,000 of market value................................$30
- More than $3,000
and not exceeding $100,000 of market value..................1%
- More than $100,000 of market value..........................1.5%
All other properties/commercial:
- First $500,000 of market value..............................1%
- More than $500,000 of market value..........................2%
Permanent Residence Permit
In addition to being at least 18 years of age and of good character, in the application of the applicant for permanent residency, the applicant must state that he or she intends to reside permanently in The Bahamas. Permanent Residence has become very popular and accelerated consideration of application is given to major international investors and owners of residences valued at one million, five hundred thousand Bahamian dollars (B$1.5 million) or more. The government fee for this is a one-time fee of ten thousand Bahamian dollars(B$10,000) and one hundred Bahamian dollars (B$100) for an applicant’s spouse and dependent minors. Fees for the initial application for the primary applicant is three thousand Bahamian dollars (B$3,000) (minimum) subject to increase in complex and lengthy cases and payment on account of one thousand five hundred Bahamian dollars (B$1,500) should be made upon our being instructed. Although our experience has been positive, as mentioned above, the grant of permanent residency is in the absolute discretion of the Board. The following documents are required:
- Immigration Form duly completed and notarized with a four dollar (B$4.00) Bahamian Postage Stamp affixed thereon. The applicant must state that it is her or intention to reside permanently in The Bahamas;
- Two (2) passport-size photographs with signature on reverse of prints;
- Police certificate covering five (5) years residence or where these are not issued, a sworn affidavit in lieu of the same;
- Birth certificate;
- Financial reference from a reputable bank verifying economic worth, i.e., citing a figure range;
- Two Testimonials of good character;
- Medical certificate dated not earlier than thirty (30) days before the application;
- Proof of ownership of property and/or investment in The Bahamas in the form of copies of conveyances, deeds or contracts;
- Proof that Real Property Taxes on the real property in The Bahamas are current; and
- Processing fee of one hundred Bahamian dollars (B$100).
A person holding a certificate of permanent residence who wishes to include his wife, or dependent child under the age of eighteen (18) and ordinarily resident in his household, may have them endorsed on the certificate at the time of his original application or at a subsequent date, subject to such conditions as might be laid down by the Board.
All international persons owning residences in The Bahamas are eligible to receive, upon application to the Director of Immigration, an annual “Home Owners Card”. This card facilitates entry into The Bahamas and entitles the owner, his/her spouse and minor children to multiple entries to The Bahamas and the ability to remain in The Bahamas for the duration of the validity of the card.
Non-Bahamians who own homes in The Bahamas may apply to the Director of Immigration for an annual home owner’s resident card (the “Home Owner’s Card”) that bears the holder’s picture. This card entitles the owner, spouse and any minor endorsed on the owner’s card, to enter The Bahamas and reside here for as long as the validity of the card. The government fee for this is five hundred Bahamian dollars (B$500) per annum and is obtained within a few days of purchasing. Fees for the initial application is one thousand Bahamian dollars (B$1,000) minimum subject to increase in complex or lengthy cases and payment on account of five hundred Bahamian dollars (B$500) should be made upon our being instructed. The intended purpose is to facilitate entry into The Bahamas with minimal formalities. There is no need for a return ticket and the Home Owner’s Card entitles the holder to stay up to one year. The following documents are required:
- Immigration Form duly completed and notarized with a four dollar (B$4.00) Bahamian postage stamp affixed thereon;
- Two (2) passport size photographs with signature on reverse of prints;
- Police certificate covering five (5) years of residence or where these are not issued, a sworn affidavit in lieu of same;
- Birth certificate;
- Financial reference from a reputable bank verifying economic worth, i.e. citing a figure range;
- Two (2) testimonials of good character;
- Proof of ownership of home outside The Bahamas;
- Proof of ownership of property and/or investment in The Bahamas in the form of copies of conveyances, deeds or contracts; and
- Processing fee of one hundred Bahamian dollars (B$100)
Although the form does not have to be completed and submitted until after the applicant’s arrival, please note that there are documents to be submitted with the application which would be appropriate to obtain or request prior to the applicant’s departure for The Bahamas.