Thinking about buying property in Cayman? Here is what you need to know first.
There is no such thing as being too prepared when it comes to purchasing property. For most of us, buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions we will make in our lifetime. And there is a lot to consider— way more than just the purchase price.
Narrow Your Property Search
It’s time to ask yourself the hard questions. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Do you have or are you planning for small ones or fuzzy ones? What is your ideal location? Do you want proximity to work and activities, on-site amenities, seclusion, lots of square footage, water frontage? What will make the difference for you in your home? There are a ton of factors at play, so take the time to explore what is most important to you. This will help narrow your search and save you time.
When my wife and I bought our home, we purchased it based on where we were at that moment. A young couple with a dream of owning on the ocean. Little did we know we would be growing into a small family and needing more space sooner than we thought. So, while we love our little ocean hideaway in Bodden town, I urge you to learn from my experience. Think about where you want to be a few years down the line. And, if at the end of the day, you can’t answer these questions (I couldn’t either), my advice to you is simple. Buy an affordable property that serves your short-term purpose in the best location your money can buy. Get yourself on the property ladder. And then, when you are ready to build or buy your dream home, that first purchase will serve as an asset to sell or who knows, it could end up being a great rental income.
Hidden Costs of Buying Property in Cayman
A common mistake buyers make, including me when I was a first-time buyer, is narrowly focusing on the purchase price. Fact; there are silent costs associated with all property purchases. One of the big associated costs when buying property in Cayman is Stamp duty. Stamp duty is charged at a fixed rate of 7.5%. This rate applies to either the purchase price or the Surveyor’s property valuation, whatever is the greater amount. (Note: first-time Caymanian buyers can apply for exemption of stamp duty.)
Property purchase expense number two: when applying for financing to buy a property in Cayman, the bank will require at least a 10% to 15% down payment to secure a loan. To get a quick estimate of how much you could borrow, check out https://www.propertycayman.com/mortgage-calculator/.
Another expense, often forgotten, is the stamp duty charge on your mortgage. That means that in addition to the 7.5% property Stamp duty payment and your deposit, you will also need funds to cover the Stamp duty charge on your loan amount. The government charges 1% for loans under CI $300,000 and 1.5% on anything greater. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to remind buyers of this.
There are also legal fees associated with the property purchase. You will want to budget between 0.5% to 1% of the property purchase cost for this. So here is the list in short - property Stamp Duty, deposit, mortgage Stamp Duty, and legal fees. It’s a lot to consider. My advice to you is to sit down with a local bank and get preapproval for a mortgage. The benefits of preapproval are huge. It ensures you are house-hunting in the right price range, saving you time. And when it comes to buying property in Cayman, preapproval also makes you more attractive to sellers. It just makes sense. Comparing two matching offers, a seller will always go for someone with preapproval over someone without. For more information on mortgages in Cayman, visit https://www.propertycayman.com/blog/mortgages-in-cayman/.
Property upkeep is another cost to factor into your property purchase. Can you afford the day to day expenses of this home? Ask for information on the current running costs such as insurance, strata, and utilities. Not only that, but try and get a sense for how well the property has been cared for. For example, how old is the A/C unit, and how often is it serviced? What about the other major appliances and the roof? On average, an A/C unit lasts ten years in Cayman. That is a significant expense to budget for, so of course, it is better to have an idea of what kind of timeline you are working with.
Stamp duty, deposit, legal fees, and running costs. Factor in these expenses to avoid the stress of overextending yourself.
Do Your Property Research
Then comes the research. Analyze recent sales based on location and comparable features. Getting to know the market will help give you a realistic expectation of what is affordable and what is not. It will allow you to feel confident in your purchase offers, whether you come in under asking or over asking. Simply put, you will know when to go bat for a property and when to walk away.
Top tip when researching, consider the future of the location. Are there new roads or developments happening in the area? What about school or amenities? The best way to find this information is https://www.caymanroads.com/projects.
Use A Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent will save you time and money. And this is a brief overview of how. First, we will help you narrow your property search. Then we will research to find properties that suit your criteria and organize viewings. We have our ears ground and will alert you of properties you haven’t heard of or overlooked. We know Cayman. The areas, the complexes, the developers, and all the recent sales.
And when you have found the one, we advise you on your offer and present it for you. We help with negotiations and work with you to satisfy the conditions of an accepted offer to purchase to make sure the home you want becomes yours.
Relators make commissions from selling homes. This fact makes some buyers hesitant. They fear that working with an agent will drive up the cost of purchasing a home. But there actually is no cost for buyers to work with an agent. When it comes to buying property in Cayman, relator commissions are a cost to the seller. For more information, check out the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association https://www.cireba.com/commission-rates.
If you have found a property you are ready to purchase, remember that you do not need to use the agent who is listing the home. It is just as important for you as a buyer to have someone representing your interests as it is for the seller. Every agent is different, so my advice is to ask around and find someone who suits your style. Find someone you feel has your best interest at heart. Because buying property should be an exciting and enjoyable experience, and the right realtor will make it so.
View Multiple Properties Before Buying Property in Cayman
It is critical to view multiple properties, even in our fast-paced island market. Looking at different properties will expand your real estate knowledge. Seeing property features in person is the quickest way to determine if the criteria you think you want is really what you want. Plus, it is incredible the feeling you can get by walking through the front door of a potential property. Often buyers know right away if this is the home for them, the place they can see themselves in.
Renting is always an option
There is no law in life that says you must own a home at a certain age or ever. I think we have established there is a lot to consider when buying a home – hidden costs, your must-haves, and future plans. Buying will always be a big decision, and maybe at this moment, it is not right for you. There is a healthy rental market island-wide, and this may be the best option for you. And if that is the feeling you got after reading this blog, that’s awesome. Because at the end of the day, you need to feel happy at home.
So whether you are looking to buy or rent, my advice is to take the stress out off your shoulders. Lean on an agent you trust. Let us do the heavy lifting for you. My goal is always to ensure my client feels confident in their property decision, whatever it maybe.
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