Although the country is called Antigua & Barbuda, for historic reasons, it is only possible to buy freehold land and property in Antigua.
Buying and selling in Antigua is a combination of the U.K.system and the U.S. system. There are no restrictions on foreign nationals buying property in Antigua although non-nationals are obliged to obtain a Non-citizens Landholders Licence unless purchasing through the Citizenship by Investment Programme.
All prices are in U.S. dollars and properties are available in Antigua from under US$200,000 to almost US$10 million in a wide range of locations. As with most property purchasing, location is everything and prices will vary according to whether or not the the property is waterfront, has a sea view or a number of other factors.
Selling Property in Antigua
Selling a villa, apartment, land or a business in Antigua is a major enterprise and it is most important that you receive professional advice. There are no rules and regulations governing estate agents or realtors in Antigua and vendors should satisfy themselves that their estate agent has professional qualifications which require them to act in accordance with accepted ethical standards
Richard Watson & Company is the longest established estate agency in Antigua Regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Richard has been professionally qualified for more than 30 years.
Every vendor wants the highest price possible for their property but do not be mislead by agents who claim to have buyers who will pay unrealistically high values just to get the instruction, every property has a market value at which it will sell. Over-pricing your property will not help it sell and it will remain on the market for a very long time, often achieving, in the end, less than it might have done if it had been correctly priced to start with.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is the world’s leading regulatory body for estate agents with a strict Code of Conduct and a high standard of professional ethics which is why we proudly say Richard Watson & Company is Antigua’s most professional estate agent.
Buying Property in Antigua
Buying land or property in Antigua is a relatively straightforward process and easier than in many other countries provided you are being well advised.
Almost all land and property in Antigua is freehold (fee simple).
To check that the seller is able to pass good title we recommend to all buyers that you should instruct a competent lawyer to act for you in the purchase and we work with a handful of lawyers who we are happy to recommend to you.
Having made an offer and had it accepted you will be required to sign a conditional contract and pay a 10% deposit. For most overseas buyers who are not Antiguan Citizens the contract will be conditional on the grant of a Non-Citizens Land Holding Licence (NCLHL see below). This can take 2 to 3 months to obtain.
Once contracts have been exchanged, your deposit will usually be held in the client escrow account of the vendors attorney. If the conditions of the contract are not fulfilled and the time limit expires, or the vendor fails to complete, your deposit is returned. However, if you fail to complete for any other reason, then you will lose your deposit.
If you are a non-citizen and you are buying land to build a house you need to be aware that construction must be started within 2 years (or the time specified in your Non-Citizens Land Holding Licence) otherwise you might be charged Undeveloped Land Tax if you decide to sell the land without building. Capital Gains Tax is not normally applicable to property sales in Antigua although there is a Land Appreciation Tax applicable to non-residents.
Costs and Procedures
The cost of a Non-Citizens Land Holders Licence is 7% of the value of the property (or the land if you are buying land to build, it is not charged on the building costs)
The government transfer fee (stamp duty) is currently 2.5% for the buyer and 7.5% for the seller. Property taxes/rates are based on rental value and are low. Legal costs for the buyer are generally 1% of the value of the transaction.
Land ownership, transfers and any restrictive covenants on the land are all recorded at the Antigua Barbuda Land Registry which is well organised. Copies of Land Certificates can be obtained for a small fee, as can cadastral Surveys. Vendors are now required to confirm that their boundaries have been surveyed within the last 10 years as historic boundaries were not always accurate.
Estate agents commissions are usually paid by the vendor unless you employ an agent to search for you.
Insurance policies which include hurricane and earthquake risk are available, premiums are approx 1-2% of reinstatement value with a 2% deductible.
Citizenship v Residence
The citizenship-by-investment program (CIP) requires a person to make a significant economic contribution to the country in return for citizenship and a commonwealth passport. There are a few approved properties that are eligible for CIP under the residential option, they all cost a minimum of US$ 400,000 and buyers can obtain CIP from approx US$ 60,000. If none of the eligible properties appeal to you, there are 3 other means of gaining CIP starting with an investment of US$ 150,000. CIP appeals mostly to individuals who either face travel restrictions due to their nationality, or who are seeking to re-domicile for tax purposes. If you are interested in Citizenship you will need to consult a Citizenship Agent and we are happy to make recommendations.
Most property buyers are entitled to residency for a far lesser cost than Citizenship. Residency currently costs US$1,000 per adult per year and after seven years of residency, an application for citizenship can be lodged without significant additional payment. Lifetime residency can also be bought in advance, the cost of which is currently being debated. Recently Antigua and Barbuda launched a Nomad Visa programme granting two years of residency for a one time fee of US$1,500.
Mortgages and Banking
Bank financing is only available to Antiguan citizens or those with an income in Antigua, interest rates are high by US or European standards and 30% or more cash deposit will be required. If you are looking to buy a holiday home in Antigua and require finance you should seek it in the country where you live prior to making any offer in Antigua. It is convenient to have a bank account in Antigua but the banking laws are very restrictive and highly regulated to avoid money laundering. Some banks are Canadian owned and are controlled by Canada’s strict banking laws as well as those of Antigua & Barbuda. In addition to high street and savings banks, Antigua has an offshore banking system.
Most properties are serviced by a septic tank, a legal requirement, water cisterns are also required by law. Government electricity and water are usually connected or available nearby as are cable and landline telephone and broadband. Although the electricity supply is generally reasonably good, a standby generator is useful particularly in the hurricane season. Cellular 4G telephone coverage is island wide as is wifi which is getting faster all the time, at the time of writing speeds up to 30MB are available.
Richard Watson are the longest established firm of Chartered Surveyors in Antigua who are regulated by the RICS, with more than 30 years experience of all aspects of residential and commercial real estate development and sales.
When engaging Richard Watson our clients are assured they will receive advice from qualified professionals regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the mark of property professionalism worldwide.
We are able to offer our clients the broadest spectrum of advice, from development appraisals and valuations; through construction management and quantity surveying; to asset disposals, residential and commercial sales, and business transfers.
Thinking of moving to Antigua to start a business here ? Many of our clients wish to sell their businesses quietly so they must remain confidential. Just let us know what you wish to do and lets see if we can help. We have already helped many clients through business start-ups in the Caribbean.
Looking for second citizenship ? We can also help through our associated registered agents.