Cayman Islands: Cayman Real Estate - An Important Business Enabler

From the perspective of real estate, the Cayman Islands is an ideal location in which to establish a business presence, as well as reside and enjoy the wonderful weather, white sand beaches, sophisticated infrastructure, friendly ambiance and top-class amenities on offer – the perfect blend of a first- world jurisdiction with an exotic Caribbean location.

The Cayman Islands is particularly geared to embracing new business to our shores when it comes to property ownership, and it does so in a variety of ways. One important strength that we possess as a jurisdiction that sets us apart from our competitors is the fact that we have no restrictions on property ownership. This is unlike Bermuda, for example, which has a two-tiered property-ownership system that makes it incredibly difficult to own property if you are non-Bermudian. Homes available to non-Bermudians typically start at around BD$3.5 million, which makes it prohibitively expensive for new residents to purchase property.

In contrast, we in the Cayman Islands realise the value of offering unrestricted property ownership for new residents to enable them to own both residential and commercial property on island without hindrance, a clear attraction that ets us apart from the rest.

Another considerable benefit of owning property in Cayman is the fact that, unlike places such as the United States, we have no ongoing property-tax requirements. The Cayman Islands government charges a one-off stamp duty (currently charged at 7.5% of the purchase price of the property) at the time of purchase and this is the only tax that is paid with regard to property purchase, thereby offering a significant saving over other jurisdictions which impose annual property taxation.

Unlike Bermuda, the Cayman Islands government does not require the purchaser to obtain a licence to purchase property from a local and pay a hefty fee in the process (8% of the purchase price for a house and 6% for a condominium, rising to 12.5% for a house and 8% for a condominium in October 2014).

In the same vein, a would-be purchaser must first obtain an Alien Landholding Licence from the BVI government before being able to purchase property in the British Virgin Islands and fees are required upon application and also on approval. Such licences can take as long as eight months to be approved, or even longer. No such restrictions occur in Cayman, providing a flexible environment for businesses looking to locate to this jurisdiction as well as new residents seeking accommodation.

Purchasing property in Cayman is a straightforward process, especially if you employ the services of a well- established real estate agent who is able to work with clients to ensure their real estate needs are met in an efficient and effective manner.

Further benefits to owning property in Cayman include the fact that a title to real estate can be held in one or more names of individuals or in a corporation and when a title is granted it is guaranteed by the Cayman Islands government. This means property ownership is properly protected. Additionally, there are no imposed requirements to develop land (excluding subdivisions which have covenants) within a stipulated time period. Consequently, parcels can be held indefinitely with little or no expense, for future use or speculation. In contrast, if you are purchasing land in the BVI you will be required to enter into a commitment with the BVI government to develop the land within a three-year period.

Once you have decided to purchase property in the Cayman Islands the breadth of choice is extremely appealing. Affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments are available across the island, with attractive family homes also plentiful. Waterfront homes and condominiums can be found along the highly prized Seven Mile Beach location, with oceanfront homes commanding a premium price. Heading up to West Bay, to the northwest of Grand Cayman, there are also several canal front communities with a variety of property sizes and styles available, ranging from mid-priced condos all the way to multi-million- dollar state-of-the-art individual residences.

George Town is the most populous of the five districts of Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman and is central to the financial services industry, followed (in terms of volume of residents) by West Bay. New road infrastructure now means that the "commute" from West Bay into the George Town business district is smooth and takes just a matter of minutes. Residents of both George Town and West Bay are also within a short commute to Camana Bay, a delightful new town that continues to grow in amenities and stature among the residential and business communities, a central point for residents to shop, relax and dine.

The rental pool is also wide and varied and new residents can choose from affordable condos in the heart of George Town all the way to large family homes in the surrounding areas.

The Cayman Islands offers a unique blend of excellent infrastructure (first-world communications networks, roads, schools, utilities, etc.), first-class amenities (restaurants, entertainment, shops and so on), beautiful year-round sunny weather and scenic, sparkling turquoise water and white sand. Purchasing a part of this location is straightforward and accessible, making the islands a jurisdiction of choice for expatriates the world over.

About the Author

James Bovell, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Cayman Islands X Cayman Islands is a Top 10 RE/MAX International, award-winning agent who specialises in high-value residential properties. With over 20 years of finding his clients dream homes, James and his team work on building relationships and go "beyond results" ensuring a personal, private and professional service.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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