OWN A PIECE OF PARADISE - THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
The British Virgin Islands offer a stable economy, a temperate climate, a variety of islands from which to choose a home or lot and the official language is English. However, it's a little more difficult to get to than other Caribbean islands, it's a bit more expensive than many and while there isn't an "income tax" per se, there IS a "payroll tax." Properties for sale are as varied as the 60 islands that comprise the British Virgin Islands. However, unlike many other Caribbean destinations, you can actually buy your own island if you can pay the price.
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If you're still thinking about making the BVI you home, or maybe your vacation home away from home, here's some basic information about purchasing here.
Can I buy a home or land in BVI? Yes, with restrictions.
The legal system in BVI is based on English Common Law. Here, non-residents are referred to as non-belongers. Even British citizens are considered non-belongers. But, non-belongers can purchase here if the following guidelines and laws are followed:
1- Hire a competent and licensed realtor to help you find the right property and negotiate your purchase offer. 2- Hire a competent and licensed real estate attorney. The attorney will not only handle the legal issues regarding the purchase, but he/she will also prepare and file your non-belonger landholding license application. 3- Normally, a purchaser will offer a 10 percent earnest money deposit with an offer. The money will be held in escrow until a sale and purchase agreement is signed. 4- Once both attorneys have reviewed the document and the parties have signed, the sale is still contingent upon the non-belonger obtaining a non-belonger landholding license. Your attorney will file the documents and, in approximately 30 days the application will be processed. 5- If approved, the remaining balance of the purchase price will now be due to the seller.
Building There are very few restrictions on building here, but all plans must be approved by the Land Development Control Authority, certified contractors must be used and all construction must meet the current building codes. Currently, almost all building materials are imported and from start to finish a building project may take anywhere from 9 - 18 months to complete.
Financing Generally banks in the BVI will allow a mortgage of up to 75 percent of the value of the home, and for up to a term of 20 years. This can change at any moment so be sure to check with your own bank if you have plans to purchase overseas.
Taxes and Fees There are many, so it pays to investigate this thoroughly with your attorney and real estate broker well in advance. There is a stamp tax of 12 percent of the purchase price that the government collects, and there are various licensing fees,
How is title held? The property here is normally held as "fee simple" title, as it is in many other countries. Another way land is held here is called "long lease" and usually means the purchaser has all the rights to ownership as that of fee simple, except it's for a finite period of time usually 99 years. After that the terms can be re-negotiated.
For more on the BVI government and immigration, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.