The Bahamas  Real Estate Guide  The Bahamas  

  The Bahamas

Lennox Paton



Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?

The ownership of land by a foreigner in his personal name or in the name of a company is regulated by the International Persons Landholding Act.  A foreigner who wishes to purchase a home or condominium for use as a family residence or undeveloped land not exceeding two (2) acres in size for the construction of a family home must register his purchase with the Bahamas Investments Board after closing.  A foreigner who wishes to purchase a home or condominium or undeveloped land exceeding two (2) acres in size for any other use (i.e. as rental property or any other commercial use) must be approved by the Bahamas Investments Board before closing.

Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?

Financing is available in U.S. currency through local lending institutions for foreigners who wish to purchase real estate in The Bahamas.  Where Bahamian real estate will be granted as security for a U.S. currency loan, the prior approval of the Exchange Control Department of the Central Bank of The Bahamas will be required.  



A. Buying

Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.

Value Added Tax is payable on the sale and purchase of real estate at the following rates:

2.5% when the purchase price is under $100,000
10% when the purchase price exceeds $100,000

Real estate broker fees are usually payable as follows:

6% of the purchase price for improved property
10% of the purchase price for undeveloped property.

B. Owning

Are there taxes applicable to owning real estate and can the burden of the taxes be passed to someone else (e.g. a tenant or an occupier - not being the owner)?

Property taxes are payable annually at differing rates for various types of property.  The owner is primarily liable for payment of the property taxes.  Where property is mortgaged, the lender/mortgagee is also liable for payment of the property taxes. Any property tax due will remain a first charge on the property in favour of the tax authority until paid and this charge would rank ahead of the rights of any lender/mortgagee.

C. Tax Breaks

Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?

Foreigners who own a residence in The Bahamas may apply for annual residency or a home-owner’s card (without the right to work) to facilitate the applicant’s entry and re-entry into The Bahamas along with their wife and children.  

Foreigners who purchase a home with a minimum value of $750,000.00 for use as a family residence will be eligible to apply for economic permanent residency (without the right to work).


Title of Real Estate

How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?

The ownership of real estate is usually evidenced by a deed of conveyance.  The Bahamas has an unregistered land system which is based on the conveyancing laws of England and Wales prior to 1925.  Title must be deduced by the seller for a period of no more than 30 years or title must otherwise commence with a grant or lease by the Crown or a certificate of title granted by the Court in accordance with the provisions of the Quieting Titles Act, whichever period is shorter.  Accordingly, it is customary for a buyer to engage a local attorney to search title and to issue a title opinion for the purpose of ensuring that the seller has good and marketable documentary title.

Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?

Priority of right, title and interest in real estate is given to documents which are first lodged for record in the Registry of Records.  This is a public database and therefore it is not possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential.

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Chelon Carr_newbold
Lennox Paton
The Bahamas