Unique Living
December 6th, 2019 | by Serge Cowan

Property Buyers Advisory Guide to St Kitts & Nevis

Why buy a villa or apartment in St Kitts & Nevis?

One of the last unspoiled islands in the Caribbean, Nevis appeals to people looking for a tranquil, laid back place to live.  The island remains affordable and there are properties for every budget and lifestyle preferences.

For those interested in obtaining a second passport, the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis has the oldest Citizenship by Investment program in the world.

There are two options available to qualify for the citizenship; a donation to one of the Government funds or an investment in approved real estate.

All non-nationals of St Kitts and Nevis are required to apply for an Alien Land Holding License to become a property owner on Nevis.

It is an easy enough procedure requiring several documents including a completed application form, Affidavit of Character, notarised copies of Identification documents and plans of the property to be purchased.

The attorney retained by the purchaser files the application with the relevant government ministry. Part of the process involves for Inland Revenue to assess the value of the property being purchased. The Alien Land Holding License fee (10% of the assessed value) is based on this evaluation

Financial Planning your Kitts and Nevis Purchase

The first thing we would recommend you do is sit down and review your numbers, ideally even before you start looking at properties. It may be that you can afford to spend more than you had thought with some thorough financial planning.

Mortgages in St Kitts and Nevis   

Mortgages in St Kitts and Nevis are available but not very easily obtained. The local banks are reluctant to extend financing to foreigners who are not able to provide collaterals in the Federation.

Down payments can be as much as 30 to 40% and interest rates are still high (up to 6%). The loan is usually repayable over 15 years depending on your age. All mortgage applications will require a property valuation by one of the banks pre-approved appraisers before the loan is granted. If you require a mortgage and have not already applied for one, provide your bank with documentation to support your application.

We would be happy to meet you to discuss your mortgage and financial plans

The Process of buying a property in St Kitts and Nevis

After you have negotiated and agree price and clarify inclusions for example furniture, equipment and sometimes even a car are included.

You should then appoint an attorney to draft the Purchase and Sale Agreement. Once both vendor and purchaser agree to the terms of the contract, it can be executed. At which point, a deposit of 10% of the purchase price is paid and held in an escrow account by the attorney. This agreement should be contingent on (a) the Government approving the Alien Land Holding License application or (b) The Government making a decision on the Alien Land Holding License application in a reasonable period of time. Once the Alien Land Holding License is approved, you move to completion on the purchase.

Relating to the fees applicable, the purchaser pays the fee for processing the application for Alien Land Holding application which stands at approximately $US 372, the balance of the purchase price (90%), Aien Land Holding License fee 10%, Legal fees, usually about 3% a registration fee of $US2.70, Assurance fund: EC$0.01 per each EC$5.00 and site plans which can cost up to $US 500.

The Seller is responsible for paying Government stamp duty of 10% based on the same valuation, the fee to Government for permission to sell at US$372 and the real estate commission. The Seller shall settle all obligations through and including the closing date, including but not limited to telephone, cable TV, electricity, water bills and house and land tax.

On completion of the sale, the Sellers shall deliver to the Purchasers a Memorandum of Transfer of the land hereby sold executed by the Sellers in favour of the Purchasers to transfer the title to the land to the Purchasers free and clear of any liens or encumbrances whatsoever, except for standard utility easements. Unique Living would be happy to introduce you to recommended lawyers should you wish.

Let’s meet to discuss your plan to buy a luxury property in St Kitts and Nevis

Contracting of your property purchase in St Kitts and Nevis

Further to satisfactory results from due diligence, your solicitor will proceed to drafting, negotiating contractual issues and signing an agreement.

There’s a lot of information here and we do this all of the time to let’s arrange a meeting and we can review with you

Purchase Taxes in St Kitts and Nevis

As a general rule, these are the additional costs incurred when buying a property here: Bank charges: This includes the mortgage valuation fee which you’ll pay for even if the loan is not approved. Surveyor fees: A survey is optional but extremely advisable. Land Registry fee: A transfer fee is payable at the point at which the deeds are transferred. It’s charged on a sliding scale of 3% to 8% of the purchase price depending on the value of the property. (Note that fees will be lower if buying in joint names as the purchase value is divided between the two parties). Legal Fees: These will vary according to the value of the property – but a good lawyer is worth paying extra for.

Property Surveys in St Kitts and Nevis

We recommend you have a survey carried out on any property you are thinking of buying to ensure there are no hidden defects. Qualified surveyors are not easily found in Nevis so in general, architects or civil engineers carry out this task. A survey is not a legal necessity in St Kitts and Nevis, but it is a good insurance against any issues that may materialise later and can be used as a condition of purchase.

Money Transfers in St Kitts and Nevis   

Currency prices fluctuate all the time so it is a good idea to fix your rate via a specialist foreign exchange company.  You can literally lose or save thousands of dollars, St Kitts and Nevis use the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD) that is pegged to the US Dollar (USD) depending on the currency provider you use. In most situations, a specialist FSA regulated currency broker can offer you a much better exchange rate than your bank. Please contact us for our list of recommended currency brokers. We recommend you only use brokers regulated by the FSA.

Cost of Ownership for a property in St Kitts and Nevis

Once you own a property in St Kitts and Nevis, it is important to understand the associated expenses.  The only tax property owners pay is the yearly property tax which is very low.

Additional expenses to be considered are; utilities, gardener, housekeeper, pool maintenance (if applicable) and in most instances, home owners who do not live on island the whole year will employ a property manager to look after their villa during their absence.

The cost for property management varies between USD250.00 to USD500.00 a month depending on the size of the property.

We looking forward to meeting to discuss your property search in St Kitts and Nevis

Serge Cowan

Serge Cowan

Managing Director and Founder

Serge has an extensive marketing background, after a broadcasting career, Serge moved into marketing where he worked for BSkyB & a number of leading Public Relations agencies.
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