Buying Real Estate in the Cayman Islands

Buying a property in Cayman has many advantages, not least that if you are staying for some time, mortgages tend to work out cheaper than rents over a three to five-year period.

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate if the property is for personal use and there are no annual property or capital gains taxes. If the property is rented out as an investment, then no tourist tax is payable if the property is rented to residents (although, if more than two properties are owned for rental, there will be additional licences required, namely a Trade and Business and Local Companies (Control) Law Licence).

Cayman’s Land Registry office enables transfers to be relatively quick and simple. Every piece of property is registered under a unique block and parcel number, which means every owner is registered and the Government guarantees the accuracy of the entries recorded at Lands. 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 section for more info.

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.

Stamp Duty & Other Charges

The price of stamp duty on all real estate and bare land purchases, who is entitled to pay it, instructions on how to pay and other potential charges.

Furnishing Exempt from Stamp Duty

Note that furnishings (officially known as chattels) are deducted form the sale price of a property before the stamp duty is calculated.

Mortgages & Borrowing

Most banks and financial institutions in Cayman 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

Not many people know that you must have Life Insurance before purchasing a home in the Cayman Islands, so that, plus home insurance (and hurricane insurance) are things that can affect your finances when purchasing a home. A Property Insurance Policy collaterally assigned to the bank is required for all mortgages and many banks will also require a Life Insurance Policy so the mortgage can be repaid in the event of death, but is not required if the property is 100% privately owned. Your loan officer will advise on their bank’s specific requirements. Numerous providers offer life insurance in Cayman. With life insurance, as with any product of this nature, it is definitely worth your while to shop around and check quotes, coverage terms, reputation and customer service strengths of several providers.

Visit our Life Insurance section for more information.

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.

Property Valuations & Appraisals

Whether applying for a mortgage, or purchasing or selling a property it is customary to instruct an independent valuation surveyor who is a registered valuer, chartered surveyor and member of the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) to carry out a valuation report.

Pitfalls to avoid

here 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.

Home Inspections & Site Surveys

In the UK, it is common practice to have a Chartered Building Survey completed before purchasing a property, whereas in the US you would most likely have a Full Home Inspection done by a licensed home inspector. There are companies that provide both services in the Cayman Islands and it is highly recommended that you have one done when purchasing a home.

Realtors – Sales

When buying a property, it’s more productive to work with one real estate agent. As mentioned before, the Islands’ MLS is run by CIREBA and it ensures the best market coverage to view 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.