Tag: first time caymanian buyer

Why People are Seeking Sun, Sea & Safety in the Cayman Islands

All it takes is one visit to the Cayman Islands to fall in love. Of course our sandy white beaches, crystal blue waters and Cayman-kind smiles take a lot of the credit, but a few more critical factors make it a place that have people coming back time and time again. Especially now!

With the inevitable increases in taxes in the, U.K., U.S and Canada, and with “working from home”, now a realistic option more than ever as, it’s no wonder we are seeing an influx of family offices and high net worth families looking to move here. There was a trend pre-COVID from Canada and whilst this is continuing the inquiries are now coming in from the US, UK, Spain and France. C’est jolie ici.

Cayman is a tax-neutral, British Overseas Territory. We are a safe and sophisticated island, with excellent infrastructure and a high standard of living. Its ease of access to and from multiple major cities, including New York, Toronto and London make it easy for many to catch direct flights back home or to attend business meetings near and far. Sure you can meet on Zoom, but the work-life balance movement is real.

We have top rated international schools, excellent medical care, first world amenities, low crime rate, a top-class and fantastic culinary scene, and of course the endless recreational activities including golf, fishing, and all the water sports you can imagine, all right in your backyard. 

Buying real estate is a simple and straightforward process in Cayman. With no restrictions on foreign ownership, nor any property taxes, the prospect of owning a second home become feasible for many.

International buyers generally start out investing in a vacation condo/rental property, however given the direct impact of COVID on the world economy, we have noticed a (not so surprising) trend over the last few months with international buyers reflecting on their quality of life. So the shift begins; making the permanent move to enjoy life in a healthy and safe environment.  Why wouldn’t you invest in that?

New and/or existing buyers are either:

a) moving into their vacation home, with the intent on staying for longer and longer stints OR,
b) buying a primary residence with the direct intent on becoming a ‘Permanent Resident’ in the Cayman Islands, declaring non-residency in their home country, without impacting their current citizenship.

Owning real estate is by law a direct means to gaining Permanent Residency, so the concept of “living where you vacation” is being realized by many, now more than ever!

In conclusion:  We feel this is a trend we are going to see more and more of; COVID has highlighted new opportunities where ‘lifestyle migration’ is building momentum. Don’t forget there’s a reason why we live here. Ever thought of asking us why?

Bank Financing In Cayman – Explained

In these last few weeks we’ve seen a significant uptick in new buyers, both locally and internationally, wanting to invest in their own piece of Cayman.  They may be keen to get their feet wet, but many are unfamiliar with buying property in the Cayman Islands and most importantly what to expect when it comes to their bank financing options.  It’s so important for new buyers to educate themselves on what their options are and what they “qualify” for before they start to look at properties.  This ensures there is no guessing on what they can afford, what they may or may not be entitled to, and guarantee a smooth Closing process when they fall in love with a property and make an Offer. Senior Manager of Personal lending at Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Limited, Amanda Bodden, was kind enough to answer some of the most common questions we are asked at Property Cayman.

If you have any additional questions don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more.  If we don’t know the answer, we will ensure you are connected with the right person to give you the facts ahead of making one of the biggest decisions in your lifetime – buying a property!


Q. How do the bank’s loan terms vary when buying a primary home, investment property & raw land?

The risk profile of an owner-occupied property mortgage is different than that of an investment property or raw land. A person’s primary residence represents a lower lending risk than an investment property which may become less profitable or even loss-making, or raw land which would not provide any income to offset its borrowing costs. Because of this, banks will generally require higher down payments and/or shorter repayment terms on investment properties or raw land than they would for your primary residence. You may also see higher interest rates charged for investment properties and raw land to reflect the higher risk lending.


Q. How do terms vary depending on the borrower’s age?

Typically, most banks in Cayman will lend up to age 65, which is the local retirement age. The borrower’s age will therefore be a factor that determines the maximum repayment term. Where a borrower does not have a mandated retirement age (for example, self-employed individuals) we are able to be a bit more flexible on the repayment term of a mortgage. As lenders we must understand the repayment source and verify that it is reasonably going to be available to service the debt over the agreed term. Lending to age 65 is not a strict policy, but it is important for us to understand when and how a mortgage will be repaid when we consider lending beyond retirement age.


 Q. What if any are the differences in lending policy & immigration status? 

 At Butterfield, our lending policy is the same for Caymanians, PR Status holders, RERC and work permit holders. We do not have different policies; we have one local resident policy that covers everyone. Our non-resident policy differs in that we will require a higher down payment and likely a shorter repayment term.

Q. What if any are the benefits of paying your mortgage bi-monthly instead of monthly?

 Paying bi-weekly accelerates your mortgage repayment. If you pay half of your normal monthly payment every two weeks you will essentially make 13 payments each year instead of 12. On a longer-term debt this can save quite a bit of interest and repay the debt earlier. At Butterfield we offer weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly payment options.

*The responses to these questions are specific to Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Limited and do not represent the opinions/ lending policies of other banks. Buyers are free to use any lender of their choosing when buying a property. 

Cayman Islands Stamp Duty: Explained

We get asked a lot about the Stamp Duty Law, and for good reason. With changes to the Stamp Duty Laws coming into effect on January 1, 2020, we wanted to break things down and answer some FAQs we get on the topic. 

In short, stamp duty is a one-time tax paid to the CI Government on all real estate transfers in the Cayman Islands. It’s a flat rate of 7.5% of the purchase price of the property, less the value of any chattels (furniture and appliances). This may seem steep, however it’s worth noting that this is the only tax you will ever pay on your property. The Cayman Islands have: 

  • Zero annual property taxes
  • Zero capital gains taxes
  • Zero inheritance taxes
  • Zero state/council taxes

(N.B. If you are a foreign citizen, we advise seeking guidance)


  1. What will the stamp duty changes be effective Jan 1, 2020?

As we understand it, the changes to the Stamp Duty Law will affect purchasers looking to buy pre-construction properties. Currently, for certain developments that received Planning Approval prior to June 30, 2019, buyers are able to pay a significantly reduced amount of stamp duty calculated on the air space that their future apartment will occupy (aka the ‘volumetric air parcel’),or calculated on the raw land footprint that the townhouse/apartment occupies. This is opposed to paying the stamp duty on the full purchase price.  

If you are reading this and are interested in buying pre-construction, we urge you to do so before Dec 31, 2019; you could save yourself tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Click the respective links to view several pre-construction options we have available at One Canal Point, Dolphin Point Club, and Indigo Bay. Alternatively, feel free to reach out to us for more information.  


2. How and when do I pay Stamp Duty?

Assuming you are buying an ‘existing’ (already built) property and are using mortgage financing for the purchase, your stamp duty will be paid at closing – your attorney will be able to guide you through this process.  

If you’re purchasing a property with cash, you have 45 days to head to the Government Admin building to make your payment otherwise you face penalty charges. 

If you’ve already purchased a pre-construction condo, you may be able to save some money by paying your stamp duty ASAP. If the development you purchased into received its Planning Permission before June 30, 2019, you’re able to pay stamp duty on the value of the volumetric air parcel your condo will one day occupy, as we illustrated above. We would recommend getting in touch with your developer to discuss your options. 


3. Does the Stamp Duty rate vary depending on the location or price of the property I want to buy? 

No. Stamp duty is assessed at 7.5% of the purchase price (less value of chattels) of the property, unless you are a first-time Caymanian buyer.  


4.  How do I calculate Stamp Duty on an existing property? 

As mentioned above, stamp duty is only levied on the physical property itself and does apply to the chattels (furniture and appliance). For example, if you purchase a condo for $500,000 and the list of chattels included in the sale totals $25,000, the stamp duty calculation would be 7.5% x $475,000 = CI$35,625. 

5. My father wants to give me a piece of land, do I pay Stamp Duty on this?

Technically, no. This would be considered a transfer made out of ‘Natural love and affection’… aww, thanks Dad! The standard 7.5% stamp duty does not apply here, however the Lands & Survey Department will charge a nominal flat fee of CI$50 irrespective of the value of the gifted property. 

With that said, if you’re Caymanian and have never purchased property before, this gift from your family would likely disqualify you from your first-time Caymanian home buyer stamp duty waiver. For more information about purchasing your first home as a Caymanian, check out the blog post we wrote about it here. 

6. My friend needs to sell their house quickly and has offered it to me for below market value, do I pay stamp duty on this?

Yes, the regular 7.5% rules would apply here. Note however, that whilst you may be getting a ‘deal’ on the property, our friends at Lands & Survey reserve the right to reassess the value of your property if they deem it to have been sold for less than the going rate. In this case, you may have to pay the full 7.5% stamp duty on whichever value is higher – the purchase price, or the re-assessed value. 

7. Can I include the Stamp Duty costs in my mortgage loan?

Probably not. Banks in Cayman will generally only lend you enough for 70% – 95% of the property’s value and prefer that you to have enough cash to cover both the down payment & stamp duty payment. In short, they want to see that you have skin in the game. You ‘may’ be able to take out a separate line of credit to cover your stamp duty, however this will be dependent of your equity and ability to service all your loans. An alternative option would be to use a withdrawal from your pension to contribute towards your closing costs, more on this to come.  


We hope the above was helpful to you. Still have a stamp duty question that wasn’t covered? Want some general advice on buying property in Cayman? Get in touch! It’s free of charge, and every member of Property Cayman is happy to help you on your property journey.  

First Time Caymanian Buyer?

Depending on the location of the property you wish to buy, as a First-Time Caymanian Buyer, you may be eligible for a reduced rate of stamp duty or, even better, a total stamp duty exemption!

Updates to the Stamp Duty Law in January 2019 took the threshold for the First-Time Caymanian Buyer concession from CI$300,000 to CI$400,000 for homes, and the threshold for ‘raw’ undeveloped land from CI$100,000 to CI$150,000.

Yusssss, we hear you shout! Well, there is a little more to it and we’d certainly recommend you seek legal advice once ready to begin. To get you started, we’ve put together a quick summary on Stamp Duty 101.

Here goes…


Normally, on every property purchase, a stamp duty is paid to the Cayman Islands Government at a rate of 7.5% of the value of the property or land.  E.g. if the property is CI$200,000, then CI$15,000 extra will be owed on closing (on top of your purchase price and mortgage down payment). It’s important to be aware that the banks who lend you the money to buy your home will not allow you to add the stamp duty fee to your mortgage.



First things first, you’ve got to be Caymanian (and we know this in itself can be complicated!). It’s advisable to make an application to the Minister of Finance’s office at the Government Administration Building prior to your property purchase to ensure your eligibility. (See link below)

You will need to prove that you are Caymanian and if you are applying with your spouse then you will need to provide a certified copy of the marriage certificate.  A sworn affidavit signed by a Notary Public or Justice of the Peace is required together with a copy of the land register of the property you want to purchase and recent private sector valuation report (within last six months from an approved valuation survey) proving the value of the land.



There are some exceptions that a first-time Caymanian buyer needs to be aware of when selecting potential properties to buy. Certain land or property located in the Seven Mile Beach corridor and in George Town will not qualify for the stamp duty waiver; the full 7.5% stamp duty would be due.

Also, be aware that stamp duty exemptions do not apply to overseas first-time buyers. Interests in property held in the name of a company also do not qualify for reduced rates of stamp duty, regardless of the ownership of the company.



Caymanian buyers may qualify for a reduced rate of stamp duty but only when the land or property is for your first owner-occupied dwelling and providing that the market value is below certain CI$ thresholds.

Simply put, to be eligible for the stamp duty exemption:



To be eligible for full stamp duty exemption:

Land – current market value of raw, undeveloped land cannot exceed CI$150,000
Property – current market value of building and land cannot exceed CI$400,000

To be eligible for 2% exemption:

Land – current market value of land must be over CI$150,000 but not exceed CI$200,000
Property – current market value of building and land must be over CI$400,000 but not exceed CI$500,000

The specific rates of duty applicable together with application requirements can be found here: CNS Library



Caymanian spouses: If a husband and wife who are both Caymanian first-time homeowner have been approved for stamp duty waiver and are taking title in both of their names, then they will effectively ‘use up’ both of their waivers on the purchase. If either spouse takes title in their name solely, then their spouse’s waiver may be used for another property purchase.

Caymanian and non-Caymanian spouse: If a husband and wife intend to take title in both of their names and only one spouse is Caymanian, then the stamp duty waiver will only be eligible on 50% of the current market value of the property. The non-Caymanian spouse will be required to pay the standard 7.5% stamp duty fees on 50% of the purchase price.



Stamp duty waivers also cannot be used partially or split between property purchases.

Once title has been taken, there is a restriction placed on the land register preventing the owner(s) from transferring title to the property for a five-year period. That means you won’t want to sell your home for five years after purchase or you’ll risk having to pay the full stamp duty owed. Any transfer of title which holds the restriction requires the consent from the Financial Secretary to remove or lift the restriction.

Don’t forget, team Property Cayman is able to advise you on ANY property on island, no matter if you discover it via CIREBA, Ecay, or private sale. We can help guide you through the process as our team of agents have over 20 years’ experience in the Cayman Islands real estate market. Even more importantly, we care about connecting good people with great places!

All you have to do is get in touch. Don’t worry, it’s free of charge; all we ask is that you trust us to do our job – to help you find your perfect home!

We look forward to helping you on your property journey.

Updated on 4 Nov 2019