There are many advantages to buying a home or plot of land in the Cayman Islands. If you are planning to spend an extended period of time on the island, owning your own property is likely to be more affordable, particularly during the peak tourism season. Luckily, property in the Cayman Islands isn't restricted by any residency requirements, which allows for foreign ownership of property there f you're looking for Cayman residential property. It's important to understand that land ownership in the Cayman Islands can be very different than in the United States.
Here's a look at some things you should know before you buy:
Accessing Property Information
Every piece of land in the Cayman Islands is registered with a parcel and block number. Every property owner is registered to their corresponding block and parcel. If you are considering a particular property, you can examine all of the records held for it. This is helpful, because it allows you to ensure that there are no liens, restrictions or other issues with the property.
Building on Undeveloped Land
Unless the land covenants say otherwise, there are no deadlines in place for building on undeveloped land. In fact, you can purchase land and hold it indefinitely, if you should choose to. Many families in the Cayman Islands invest in property so that they will have it for later generations to build on.
When you are ready to build, though, make sure that you plan in advance. Your builder will need as much as six months to develop the building plans and obtain the necessary planning approvals for construction. Once the planning approvals are secured, most homes can be constructed quickly. You'll probably find that your new home will be finished within a year of putting the plans in motion.
Potential Issues to Avoid
When you buy land in the Cayman Islands, it's important that you're aware of some of the lesser-known issues that foreign buyers may not otherwise know.
Utility Bills and Costs
First, make sure that the previous property owner has settled the final water bills and any other utility costs for the property before you take ownership. Although you can't legally be held responsible for outstanding accounts, those unpaid balances can be problematic for you when trying to reconnect new service after the sale.
You'll also want to ask your real estate agent about the average utility costs on the property. Depending on where the house is, the costs throughout the year can fluctuate significantly. The last thing you want to do is find out that your winter utility costs are beyond your means, or that your summer cooling costs just keep climbing. When you know what the averages are by season, you'll have a good idea what to budget.
Air Conditioning Maintenance
In the Cayman Islands, air conditioning is a necessity, and the cost of installing a new system can exceed several thousand dollars. Make sure that the previous owner has kept up with the routine maintenance of the air conditioning system, and ask to have it cleaned and inspected as part of the purchase agreement. That way, you can review the inspection report to ensure that it's in good condition.
Inspections and Surveys
Another important part of the purchase process is the survey and inspection. If you're buying land, you'll want to have a Conditions Site Survey completed. This involves inspecting the property for stability. The inspector will then tell you if you'd need to support your new home with pilings or if the land will support the structure without the added reinforcement.
As you can see, buying land in the Cayman Islands requires more than just a standard purchase agreement. As a foreigner, having the inside track on some of the things you should consider can help you make the process a smooth one. Talk with a real estate professional on the island for a more successful purchase experience.