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 Citizens 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 there is a sea view and 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, it will probably 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 sell.
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
The term ‘Buyer Beware’ is as applicable in Antigua as it is anywhere else in the world when it comes to buying property. It is up to you, the purchaser, to ensure what you are buying has proper legal title and that you comply with all legal requirements and, to that end, you need a competent lawyer. We work with a handful of lawyers who we are happy to recommend to buyers.
Having masde an offer and had it accepted you will be required to sign a conditional contract and pay a 10% deposit. The contract will be conditional on one or more factors and will be time limited with extension clauses. The most usual condition for overseas buyers will be the Non-citizens Landholding Licence (see below). This usually takes 1 to 2 months to obtain. There could be other conditions such as mortgage or survey. If you are not resident in Antigua and do not have an income in the country, obtaining a mortgage is almost impossible. You will need to raise funds elsewhere. These days, vendors are required to provide a boundary survey which is less than 10 years old.
When paying the deposit, ensure it will be held in a protected escrow account. If any of the conditions of the contract are not fulfilled or the time limit expires, the deposit is returnable in full. However, if you fail to complete for any other reason, then you will lose your deposit. If the vendor fails to complete your deposit will be returned.
If you are a non-citizen and you are buying land you need to be aware that construction must be started within 2 years (or the time specified on your Non-citizens Landholding Licence) otherwise you might be charged Undeveloped Land Tax if you decide to sell without building. Capital Gains Tax is not normally applicable to property sales in Antigua although there is an undeveloped land tax applicable to non-residents.
Buying in Antigua is actually easier than in most other countries provided you are being well advised,
Costs and Procedures
The cost of a Non-citizens Landholders Licence is 7% of the value of the property.
Government transfer fees are 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. Properties are registered at the Land Registry which is well organised. Copies of Land Certificates can be obtained for a small fee, as can cadastral Surveys. Before a property can be sold, the vendor must produce a Certificate that the boundaries have been surveyed in the last 10 years. A necessity nowadays as historic boundaries were somewhat inaccurate.
Estate agents commissions vary from 4% to 6% on sale of both residential and commercial property and are paid by the vendor unless you employ an agent to search for you. Insurance policies can include hurricane and earthquake risk, premiums are approx 2% of 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. At present there are 4 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.
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 residency, an application for citizenship can be lodged without further excessive 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 permitting 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. As agents, we can introduce you to reputable banks. 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.