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Ask the expert: Buying real estate in Cayman

Ian Jamieson, Cayman Islands attorney

By Ian Jamieson

As an attorney, I am often asked questions about buying real estate in the Cayman Islands. Below are the answers to some of the most common questions I am asked.

Q: What types of property are for sale in Cayman?
A: All types of properties are for sale, from standalone houses, to condominiums to bare land for development. 

Q: How can I learn which properties are for sale?
A: Details of properties for sale can be found in local newspapers or with realtors online at cireba.com.

Q: What is the role of the Cayman Islands Lands and Survey Department?
A: Registers noting ownership of land are maintained by the Cayman Islands government at the Lands and Survey Department. Property registers are publicly searchable documents.

Q: Are there any restrictions on purchasing real estate as a non-Caymanian?
A: Non-Caymanians are entitled to hold land without restrictions.

Q: Can a company or a trust hold real estate in the Cayman Islands?
A: It is possible for a company or a trust to hold land in Cayman. In the case of a non-Caymanian company, this will need to be registered in the Cayman Islands before it is entitled to hold land, but this is a fairly simple process. Alternatively, once the appropriate identification and incorporation paperwork is provided, it is a simple and quick process to incorporate a Cayman Islands company to hold land. Companies do have to pay annual fees to the Cayman government, however.

Q: What stamp duty is payable on real estate purchases in the Cayman Islands?
A: With some exceptions for first-time Caymanian purchasers and lower value developments, the rate of duty on purchases is 7.5 per cent of the higher of the price paid for the property less chattels or the market value. Stamp duty is typically the responsibility of the purchaser and is paid when documents are submitted to the Cayman Islands Lands and Survey Department for registration. Penalties accrue if documents are submitted more than 45 days from execution.

Q: What ongoing property taxes are charged in the Cayman Islands?
A: Once a property is purchased and stamp duty is paid, there are no ongoing property taxes levied in the Cayman Islands.

About the author

Ian Jamieson is a partner of  the Bedell Cristin law firm in Camana Bay. He heads the firm's Cayman Inward Investment Group. His areas of expertise are real estate and banking and finance.

This article first appeared in January's print edition of Camana Bay Times, under the headline "Ask the Expert: Buying real estate in Cayman."

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