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Buying Property

Trinidad and Tobago - Buying Property

In Trinidad and Tobago is it necessary for foreign nationals who wish to purchase land and/or property to obtain a licence. Ownership of land or property does not mean that the owner automatically has the status of a resident, but a non resident who owns property can remain in the country for three months without a visa depending upon the country of origin.

Those wishing to purchase land of more than five acres must have a development licence from the Tourism Development Company, who will be able to advise on the tax breaks and financial benefits that are available. A commercial property owner does not have an automatic to earn an income in Trinidad and Tobago; a work permit will still be required.

When a purchase price is agreed, the buyer places a 10% deposit in escrow and there is a maximum of 90 days allowed for the sale to be completed. Both parties will require legal representation to prepare the conveyance documents and to carry out all the necessary searches on the property. The property can only be sold if there are no restrictions on the sale or any other issues which may hold up the process.

When all the necessary costs and fees have been paid, the documents are stamped and must be registered with the Red House, the Warden's Office in the area where the property is located and the Ministry of Finance. Fees include deposit, balance, and lawyers' fees and there is a stamp duty of between 3 and 7.5% if the property is worth more than $850,000. Legal fees will vary according to which lawyer is being used. Commission to the estate agent is paid by the seller.

Once you own a property there is a land and building tax to be paid. This is based on the potential rental value of the property and the valuations are carried out by the Ministry of Finance. Valuations are based on location, size and type of property. When purchasing a property it is a good idea to check with the seller what they are paying for this tax, as all properties will be different. There are no exceptions to this; all property owners must pay this tax.

The friendliness of the local people means that expats do not tend to stick together in their own communities so there are no particular residential areas which are more suitable than others.

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