Real estate is a major contributor to the Bahamian economy. Our highly experienced team can help you to invest wisely in this sought-after market. Whether you are seeking to buy residential or commercial properties, rental units, condominiums, timeshares or vacation homes, we will guide you through every step of the purchase process and related commercial matters.
We offer the complete range of advisory services, including applying for regulatory approvals, negotiating the terms of sale, settling the Agreement for Sale, reviewing the documentary title and closing the transaction.
Our firm is on all approved attorneys listings for each bank. We are therefore authorised to represent clients seeking a mortgage through a local lending institution and provide the bank with an Opinion on Title, as well as drafting the mortgage instrument.
For non-Bahamian clients, our Real Estate Practice Group can support you in preparing and filing an application with the Department of Immigration for a Home Owner’s Resident Card, Annual Residence Permit or a Permanent Residence Permit. We can also ensure the submission of an application to The Bahamas Investments Board to obtain a Permit or Certificate of Registration – a necessary requirement for buying property in The Bahamas, and we offer title insurance through our affiliate company, Resort Title Insurance Agency Limited.
Our practice group has a wealth of experience in representing financial institutions and lender groups in financing development projects in New Providence and the Family Islands. We offer the required legal work for subdivision planning and development, planned residential communities and condominium development.
Notable projects we have advised on include the restructuring of Baha Mar, the refinancing of the Atlantis Resort, the development of One Cable Beach and the acquisition of the One&Only Ocean Club, among others.
Areas of Focus
With the demand for property increasing, we have expertise in subdivision development, planned communities and residential and commercial developments.
Our services include advice for subdivision and development planning, applying for subdivision approval and bonding for infrastructure development under the Planning and Subdivision Act, 2010. We have made numerous infrastructure bond applications on behalf of developers, as well as ensuring that subdivision approval is obtained in accordance with the law.
We are very knowledgeable with the criteria necessary to obtain subdivision approvals along with the legislative requirements. This allows us to offer expert assistance in the application process. Along with subdivision applications, we also assist with severance applications.
We have represented some of the major residential and commercial developments in The Bahamas, including Baker’s Bay and Norman’s Cay.
We regularly advise on and draft documents related to condominium developments and offer world-class service in this area.
We have particular expertise in the development of planned residential communities with condominium and lot components. We are the leaders in the industry in structuring condominium developments and programs, drafting and filing Declarations of Condominium for condominiums, Master Declarations for planned communities, Declarations of Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions and all other documents necessary to ensure the smooth and efficient operation of the planned development.
We also assist with the incorporation of home and property owners’ associations and the drafting of all associated documents.
Some of our most recent work includes Baker’s Bay, Bimini Bay and Ocean Terrace.
We are committed to ensuring clients are compliant with all regulatory authorities and legislative requirements.
In enabling non-Bahamian clients to obtain property in accordance with the International Persons Landholding Act, we ensure an application is provided to the Bahamas Investment Authority to obtain a Permit or Certificate of Registration to acquire property in The Bahamas.
Additionally, we ensure clients are compliant with the Real Property Tax Act by submitting on their behalf a Declaration of Real Property Tax to the Department of Inland Revenue and advising clients on any outstanding taxes. Furthermore, we ensure compliance with the Stamp Act and Value Added Tax Act by submitting all title documents that are subject to payment of stamp duty and VAT.
Further regulatory approvals we can deal with include the submission of an application to the Central Bank of The Bahamas for exchange control approvals to be granted when a property transaction involving a non-Bahamian client requires payment in U.S. currency from an international source. This will allow the purchaser to obtain a letter granting exchange control approval.
In complying with the legislative requirements of the Bahamian Stamp Tax legislation, our Real Estate Practice Group advises clients on the stamp tax due on property purchases. Furthermore, we submit all required title documents to the Department of Inland Revenue.
To comply with VAT legislation, our practice group ensures the current VAT rate of 7.5% is applied to all required title documents and we advise clients of the amount payable to the Department of Inland Revenue, VAT Office.
For first-time Bahamian home owners, we will provide an application to the Department of Inland Revenue, Stamp Exemption Unit requesting a full or partial exemption on stamp tax and VAT based on the value of the land and the home.
Our Real Estate Practice Group advises clients on the amount payable to settle outstanding real property taxes.
In instances where the client purchases “owner-occupied property”, we will provide the Real Property Tax Department with an owner-occupied affirmation that allows an exemption of real property taxes on the first $250,000. Further exemptions are granted to first-time homeowners based on the market value of the home and land, which is assessed by the Real Property Tax Department.
At the close of a transaction, we ensure the property is registered with the Department of Inland Revenue, Real Property Tax Department, by submitting a Declaration of Real Property Tax advising of the change in property ownership.
In addition, before the close of a sale transaction, we advise our clients of any outstanding real property taxes that must be settled before or at closing.
We advise on all aspects of residential and commercial real estate transactions, individual and project financing. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience in the intricacies of financing projects including loan agreements and share purchase agreements.
We advise some of the leading financial institutions in The Bahamas and the lender groups in the financing of development projects in New Providence and the Family Islands. Our attorneys provide advice for the acquisition and financing of residential and commercial property including private residences and vacation homes, condominium developments, resort developments and subdivisions.
Led by top tier attorney David R. Johnstone and Senior Partner Chelon Carr-Newbold, our Real Estate Group has over 40 years’ experience providing first-rate property services to both commercial and private clients.
Our team is well-versed in the preparation of lease arrangements for substantial commercial properties and local residential properties. We ensure that careful drafting and negotiation is employed to ensure the basis on which leases are granted fully protects the interest of our clients. This is essential when complex provisions and other restrictions must be incorporated. Landlords often impose strict prohibitions on sub-letting and the conditions must be considered carefully to ensure they are reasonable in all the circumstances—we make sure tenants are aware of any such restrictions.
The Bahamas Government has targeted particular areas for foreign direct investment in the country. We provide advice to non-Bahamian investors on regulatory requirements for direct foreign investment in the region.
Foreign investment in land is particularly encouraged in hotel and resort development, marinas, upscale investment condominiums, timeshares and second-home/vacation home development. The purchase of land by non-Bahamians means liaising with various government agencies to obtain legislated approvals which permit the investor to acquire the property.
Our attorneys are adept in obtaining investment incentives for foreign investors, including exemptions from the payment of customs duties on building materials, equipment, business license fees and real property tax among other concessions.
Additionally, investments may qualify an investor or applicant for a permanent residency permit or an annual residence permit. Our attorneys can assist in making these applications for clients.
The Bahamas maintains an investment-friendly climate and encourages both Bahamian nationals and foreign investors to establish businesses here. Lennox Paton attorneys advise our clients on the various investment incentives schemes and benefits available to them.
As it relates to real property transactions, investment incentives offered by the Government include exemptions under the Hotels Encouragement Act regime, including exemptions for duty free entry of approved construction materials, furnishings and fixtures for hotel development, as well as exemptions and concessions from real property tax for the first 20 years of operation of a hotel/resort.
Investors in timeshare facilities may be eligible for exemptions under the Bahamas Vacation Plan and Time Sharing Act, which provides for duty-free concessions for building supplies for the construction of timeshare facilities. For clients interested in investing in our pristine Family Islands, the Family Island Development Encouragement Act provides duty concessions on importing building materials, equipment and supplies for commercial and residential developments on certain Family Islands.
The Bahamas has plenty to offer to foreign investors. A stable democracy and highly-trained English-speaking workforce—not to mention breath-taking sea views and landscapes—are supplemented by an array of legislative incentives for doing business in The Bahamas.
These incentive schemes extend beyond the tourism and hotel sectors to encompass agro-industries, mariculture, pharmaceutical manufacture and offshore medical centres.
We regularly advise corporate clients on how to benefit from these various incentive schemes and our attorneys we have been involved with some of the most ambitious projects undertaken in the Bahamas.
We offer title insurance and escrow services through our affiliate companies, Resort Title Insurance Agency Limited and Resort Title Escrow Services Ltd.
With respect to title insurance, The Bahamas has an unregistered land system. This means that real estate attorneys conduct title and cause list searches to ensure that property commences with a good root of title, in line with the provisions of The Conveyancing and Law of Property Act of The Bahamas.
During a transaction, our attorneys will provide the purchaser with an opinion on title which will confirm that the title to the property is good and marketable. If there are any encumbrances on title, these will be raised with the purchaser and included in the opinion on title. Our opinions on title will also indemnify the purchaser up to the amount of the transaction.
Another option for a purchaser or a lender is title insurance. Title insurance is an indemnity insurance that insures against potential monetary loss that may arise as a result of defects in title to real property.
There are two types of title insurance policies—an owner’s policy and a lender’s policy. An owner’s policy insures the owner from financial loss in the amount of the purchase price, while a lender’s policy insures a lender/mortgagee from financial loss in the amount of the loan.
With title insurance, our attorneys will provide the underwriter with an opinion on title confirming that title is good and marketable and listing any encumbrances on title. Once title is approved by the underwriter, our affiliate company, Resort Title Insurance Agency Limited, will issue a title commitment and upon closing of the transaction, a title policy will be issued to the purchaser or lender.
We also offer escrow arrangements through our affiliate company, Resort Title Escrow Services Ltd.
Resort Title Escrow Services Ltd. will hold legal documents and funds in escrow pending the completion of a loan, transaction or satisfaction of the terms and conditions stated in an escrow agreement. While acting as escrow agents, we act impartially and carry out the mutually agreed instructions of the clients. We also assist with the drafting of escrow agreements to ensure that this process is convenient and seamless for our clients.
Our Resort Title team is run by Debbie Russell