Buying your first home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make and so it’s important to understand what is involved before you make that step. This brief guide is an overview on what to expect and things to consider when buying your first home in Cayman.
Get your Mortgage Pre-Approved
The first steps should be considering your finances and deciding what you can afford. Following this, visit your chosen bank and discuss being pre-qualified for a mortgage. They will review your down payment, income, expenses, savings and any other financial commitments and advise on your mortgage financing options. It is recommended to shop around and speak to several lending providers to get the best/lowest interest rate and to determine any other benefits your chosen lender can provide.
When you buy property in Cayman Islands costs will include a onetime stamp duty payment that is calculated on the value of the purchase (not including chattels). The current rate is set at 7.5%. The Cayman Government offers concessions for first time Caymanian buyers and stamp duty is waived if the property is below CI$300,000. For Caymanians, other concessions are offered for land or higher value purchases.
Further costs will include a 1% duty that is charged on mortgages of less than CI$300,000 and 1.5% on mortgages of CI$300,000 or higher. It is normal to budget up to 1% for legal and registration fees. And remember as the Cayman Islands is a tax-free jurisdiction you only pay a one time property tax upon purchase.
Local banks will usually require you to have life insurance covering the mortgage and will request a valuation of the property by an approved chartered surveyor. Your bank will have an approved list of surveyors that you may choose from and you should expect to pay in the region of CI$400-CI$600 for this report.
It is generally good practice to budget for 10% to 12% of the purchase price for closing costs.
The property search
We recommend outlining or making a list of some of the features that you are looking for in your home. For example; location, type of property, number of bedrooms, garden space, condo or home Etc. You can obviously spend hours researching the huge portfolio of Real estate for sale in Cayman Islands but using the expertise of a realtor can simplify the process, narrow down the search and show you the best matches for your budget and requirements.
Other points to consider
Make sure you get a home inspection, ask your realtor for information on the monthly running costs of the property, check if all strata fees are up to date and maybe consider requesting an Air Conditioning system service report and have the home inspected for any other unexpected surprises.
Presenting an offer
When making an offer on any Grand Cayman real estate for sale, consider recent sales of similar properties, compare features and conditions of the homes together with advice from your realtor on current market conditions. As part of the offer your realtor will help you include contingencies, these are there to protect your investment and any potential risks and may include items such as what is the closing date and who is responsible for the closing costs.
The process of purchasing real estate in the Cayman Islands is straightforward. Personal documents are presented to your real estate agent, then upon entering the contract it is necessary to file with the Department of Lands and Surveys a ”Search and Stay” status on the land. This gives the buyer a priority period where no other interest can be registered until the property is transferred to the buyer. The closing/signing usually takes place in the legal services provider’s offices and the title is transferred following payment of the Stamp Duty which is required within 45 days of the contract being signed.
Buying property in the Cayman Islands is easy when you take into consideration the MLS by CIREBA, the fact that there are over 200 realtors ready to help you and the fact that there are compliant financial and legal institutions that can help you every step of the way.