Despite the current economic climate, home ownership still remains one of the best ways to create generational wealth for yourself and your family. Whether you’re looking for an investment property, or your first family home, the Caribbean remains a great place in which to invest in property. If you’ve consciously budgeted over the past few years and have significant savings, it might be time to consider buying.
Confirm your eligibility to purchase property
If you’re a non-resident, some countries like St. Lucia require you to be on the island to sign the conveyance (the act of transferring an ownership interest in property from one party to another) documents for purchasing property. In Jamaica, you must have a unique taxpayer registration number issued by the Tax Administration Department before the purchase can proceed. Other islands have mandatory requirements for overseas property buyers.
Can You Afford To Buy?
You should know from the outset how you intend to finance your purchase. Will it be a cash purchase or will you require a mortgage from your local bank? If you’ll need a mortgage, you should first seek pre-approval to ascertain how much you can borrow, the repayment period and monthly payments. You will be required to provide documentary evidence when submitting an application for a mortgage. According to Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago, documents such as the Agreement of Sale, confirmation of savings/debt, Equifax and or Esperian credit report and valid forms of identification are just a few of the documents potential buyers will be asked to produce. The process for obtaining a mortgage may vary from island to island, therefore research is recommended and you may want to consider employing the expertise of a mortgage broker, to make the process a little less daunting.
Finding A Realtor
Now that you’ve determined how you’ll be funding the purchase of your home, the next step is to find it. This is when you may require the services of a reputable realtor whose role will be to arrange appointments for viewings. Not sure where to find a realtor? A quick search on Google, should immediately reveal who the major players are in your area. However be sure to ask friends and family for recommendations of reputable agents. Prior to meeting with your realtor you should have a few questions handy.
Some good questions to ask:
- How long have you been in business?
- What can I expect from you- in terms of my overall experience- if I chose you as my realtor?
- Are there any additional ownership costs/ fees I should be aware of?
Remember, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person so it’s important you like, respect, and actually enjoy being around them, or it could represent the beginning of a very frustrating relationship down the road.
Making An Offer
Having selected the property of your dreams, you will need to make an offer to purchase. Offers to purchase are usually done via the agent with whom you viewed the property. Some Caribbean islands require that you make your offer in writing. It should be noted that although you may have made your offer to purchase in writing, it is only when you sign the Agreement for Sale and transfer the remaining funds to your attorney, that you’ll be legally bound to proceed with the purchase. Failure to do so will lead to you forfeiting your down payment. You’ll also want to budget extra funds for a surveyor’s report, as it will highlight any structural issues affecting the property you wish to buy. Last but not least, you’ll require the services of an attorney to deal with all legal matters on your behalf.
According to Caribbean Property Magazine, the conveyancing process for buying property can take anywhere from three to six months to complete, depending on the pace at which your attorney and the attorneys representing the seller work and whether or not there are any legal issues that need to be finalised before hand.
Keeping Your New Purchase Safe
It’s no secret that the region has experienced an up tick in crime over the past few years. Besides the family dog and burglar bars, have you seriously thought out security measures for your new home? From smart phone apps to remote monitoring, technology has radically changed the way we protect our homes. Seek out the services of your local home security service provider for the best solution to your security needs.