Buying property in Barbados

The process of purchasing property in Barbados is similar to the UK because the island’s laws are based on the English system. However, there are important differences which we highlight on this page.

International buyers are well accustomed to the protections afforded to the buyer of units in other jurisdictions, particularly in the UK, and are likely to expect the same safeguards to apply in Barbados.

We are experienced in dealing with Bajan property and the professionals on the island. We have extensive experience of dealing with real estate development and off plan sales, both internationally as well as in the UK and we are aware of the differences between jurisdictions and the concerns of a buyer. We are aware of the various protections that an international buyer is likely to expect to have the benefit of in the current economic climate.

The process

When purchasing a property in Barbardos, the following process will take place:

  • Price is negotiated upfront in advance of exchanging contracts;
  • On exchange, you pay a deposit to the seller and will be committed to purchase the property;
  • Title to the property will be investigated to check that the seller has right to sell – local attorneys will undertake the conveyancing searches required;
  • New-build property requires planning permission from the Town and Country Planning Office and certificate to show that the building was constructed in compliance with planning guidelines. There is no building regulation regime so you will be reliant on the developer’s expertise to ensure the quality of the work;
  • Documents need to be signed in front of a Bajan attorney (or your signature can be notarized in the UK);
  • Registration is not generally compulsory in Barbados and your title is likely therefore to remain unregistered. A Condominium Declaration will be required for apartments and that has to be recorded at the land registry.

The pitfalls

There is no equivalent for Bajan property of NHBC cover, which is generally provided for a new-build property in England. It is therefore important to negotiate the contract to ensure you are adequately protected and the developer is required to construct the property diligently and to the agreed quality and specification.

Contracts are commonly provide for stage or down payments as construction progresses. It is also important to ensure that there is adequate protection for those payments, for example by adding a provision for them to be held in a separate secure escrow account until completion of the building.

How we can help

We can help you to navigate local laws and regulations by liaising with developers and local attorneys with whom we have excellent relationships. We can structure your purchase efficiently to save you time and money when buying your property and maximise your gain should you decide to realise your investment.

There are important differences in the way that Barbados deals with real estate. Our experience of dealing with Bajan real estate and working with professionals on the island means that we are well placed to guide you through the process, which includes:

  • Negotiation of sale purchase agreements and other documentation for new condiminium developments;
  • Ensuring services advertised to be provided in a development are procured by the developer for a period of time after completion;
  • Negotiation of the terms of escrow agreements with developers’ lawyers to provide buyers added protection, for example to ensure that stage payments are held in an escrow account rather than being paid directly to the developer to finance the construction;
  • Where buyers have acquired Bajan real estate in an offshore company, typically incorporated in the BVI, addressing the control over currency exchange – we have in place an efficient procedure to set up a BVI purchasing vehicle if required;
  • Providing an excellent working relationship with local attorneys on the island to avoid the need for a buyer to deal directly with a local attorney;

Bringing money into Barbados

Exchange controls restrict the ability of non-residents to obtain loans in Barbados. The correct procedures must be followed when bringing in funds for your purchase and repatriating your gain when you come to sell.

Your funds will have to be registered with the Central Bank of Barbados to ensure repatriation of money following your sale. Non-residents also need permission to purchase the property from the Exchange Control Authority of the Central Bank of Barbados.

We can set up an offshore company to hold your property to simplify repatriation of any gain from the sale of your property. The cost of setting up and running a company structure would, of course, need to be offset against the potential savings in time and money.

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