Buying Real Estate

Every piece of property is registered under a unique block and parcel number, which means every owner is registered and the Government guarantees the right of ownership. A potential purchaser may examine the records regarding any piece of property to check whether there are any liens, charges or restrictions on it.

Unless stipulated within the covenants for a particular development, there are no time deadlines for building on raw land. The land can be held undeveloped indefinitely and many families are land banking for future generations. Planning approvals are valid for five years following the grant of planning permission. Building time in Cayman is relatively fast and most homes up to 3,500 sq ft can be built within a six to eight-month period from the commencement of construction.

Allowing four to six months for your architect to design and obtain planning approvals and prices, you can expect to be able to design and build a home in just over a year. See the Building a Home Tips section for more information.

For planning info visit www.planning.gov.ky or see our Land Surveyors page for a list of licensed land surveyors.

It is very important however that you take local legal and real estate advice when buying land in Cayman, particularly if you are buying from a company that is based somewhere other than the Cayman Islands. It has been known for Cayman land to be sold at international property fairs at a much higher price than you can buy it for locally. See this article.

Therefore, if you are thinking of buying land in Cayman do your due diligence and check that the prices they are quoting you per acre are accurate. Ask a local CIREBA (Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association) member for their input before signing anything.

Know your Client/Customer (KYC)

Please keep in mind that the sale or purchase of real estate in the Cayman Islands constitutes as Relevant Financial Business for the purposes of Cayman’s anti money laundering measures. As part of the Know Your Client/Customer (KYC) requirement, your real estate agent or any professional acting in relation to a real estate transaction are required by the Cayman Islands Government to collect your identification details such as passport or drivers license numbers and source of funds (by way of a bank statement) as well as other relevant information to finalise the transaction.

If you require further information about this requirement, please contact a legal conveyancing professional found on the Legal Conveyancing page.

Stamp Duty & Other Charges

Stamp duty, which is payable on all real estate transfers and purchases (other than those between close family, aka ‘by love and affection’), is 7.5%. However, a first time Caymanian buyer will pay no stamp duty if the property is below CI$300,000 (2% if it is over CI$300k but does not exceed CI$400k) and is going to be owner occupied.

Furnishing Exempt from Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is not charged on the furnishings or chattels of a house. Some confusion has surrounded what is and what is not included.

 

Pitfalls to avoid

There are various pitfalls you will want to avoid when buying a property in Cayman. Many, such as unpaid strata fees by the previous owner, will be caught by a conveyancing lawyer during title checks.

Mortgages & Borrowing

Banks and financial institutions offer mortgage packages. Interest rates are quoted based on the KYD and USD prime rate published in the Cayman Islands by the retail banks.

Life Insurance Required for Mortgage

Many banks will require a life insurance policy to be collaterally assigned to them for the amount of your mortgage. Your bank loan officer will advise if such a policy is needed for your mortgage purposes.

Strata Titles

Residential property in Cayman is often sold as part of a strata plan if it is in a condominium or apartment complex. Most countries have the concept of freehold property, where the owner has ownership and responsibility for the land they own and all buildings on it.

Realtors – Sales

When buying a property, work with one real estate agent. (This does not apply to rentals.) Rest assured you absolutely only need to go to one agent within the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA) to view each and every property on all three Islands.

Timeshare Properties for Sale

Various hotels in the Cayman Islands offer timeshare ownership and these include: the Wyndham Reef Resort, Morritt’s Tortuga Club, and Morritt’s Grand Resort. A timeshare is a type of vacation property allowing individuals to purchase an increment of time (usually one full week) at a luxury resort.