QUESTION: Dear Legal Wiz,
I live in Montego Bay in western Jamaica. Can you please give me some guidelines on the stages involved in selling or buying property. I am doing both, but need simpler explanation that what I see on the internet. What are the costs involved. Both properties in question have houses..
RESPONSE: Dear Laura,
Thank you for writing in.
It’s always good to buy a house in Jamaica, whether you are a Jamaican or not. Whether you use a lawyer, power-of-attorney or paralegal, ‘common man’ make sure you have a general idea of the steps when buying or selling property, land etc.
If the purchase is in cash, the time to complete the transaction depends largely on the participants in the contract/agreement/transaction. However, where a mortgage is involved, the completion can last three months or more, in some cases from the date of signing.
Here are the stages succinctly listed. REMEMBER: If you are the VENDOR, prepare to pay approximately 20%-21% of the agreed cost of the total cost and the PURCHASER should prepare to pay 5%-8%.
1. If a real estate agent is involved, their commission is usually 5%+General Consumption tax (GCT) of land/property value payable by VENDOR, although this fee is being passed on to the PURCHASER in modern practice.
2. VENDOR can do an evaluation to establish a sale/purchase price.
3. VENDOR secures an attorney/lawyer. Attorney fees for VENDOR ranges (3%-3.5%) + 16.5%GCT of the agreed sale/purchase price.
4. PURCHASER and VENDOR should understand which title is available, if any, for the property being sold. Two kinds of land title exist in Jamaica. A common law title is a certificate of ownership used for unregistered lands ie lands without an official title. More on common law title here at http://www.antheamcgibbon.com/i-have-a-jamaican-common-law-title-how-do-i-get-a-title.htm). NOTE: By the end of the transfer a properly registered legal and official title must be passed on to the purchaser. The other title is the official and legal title you get upon officially registering your property. The Registration of Titles Act stipulates that the original must be retained at the Office of Land and Titles, while a duplicate is provided to the proprietor.
5. PURCHASER secures an attorney. Attorney fees usually range between (2%-6%) + 16.5% GCT of land value
6. PURCHASER should make background checks. A land survey and title search is done to make sure that no other claim or conflicting interests is registered against the property.
7. PURCHASER makes an offer or accepts VENDOR’S PRICE. Remember that it is normal for payments to be made in installments. NB: Foreign currency remittance for the purpose of purchasing real estate is prohibited without the approval of the Bank of Jamaica. Consent from the Exchange Control Department of the Bank of Jamaica is required prior to engaging in purchase agreements
8. The PURCHASER should lodge a caveat on the property. This caveat will prohibit any other interest from being registered against the property, until transfer has been completed.
9. VENDOR prepares an Agreement for Sale usually via his/her lawyer.
10. BOTH VeNDOR And PURCHASER signs the Agreement for Sale, either at real estate agency if the same is employed, or, in the presence of a lawyer.
10a. PURCHASER pays a deposit of approximately 10%-20% of selling/purchase price.
10b. PURCHASER also pays percentage of stamp duty on the transaction (which may be included in overall deposit)
11. VENDOR submits an application to the Office of the Registrar of Titles.
12. VENDOR pays government duties. NOTE: Documents on conveyance of land must be stamped within 30 days of signing, to avoid substantial penalties.
13. Transfer of deed completes the sale. NOTE: registering of title takes approximately 54 days.
SUMMARY OF FEES in Land sale transactions in Jamaica:
Agent’s Fees, Lawyers’ fees, Notaries’ fees, Registration fees, Taxes, etc. NOTE: If the land/property is not properly sorted and prepared for sale, the vendor can incur other costs such as a. those required to free the land/property of incumbencies (may include tenants) b. probating a will and relating expenses etc
Real estate agent´s commission is negotiable, generally, Around Kingston it generally is 5% of sale/purchase price plus 16.5% General Consumption Tax (GCT). The seller traditionally pays the agent´s fees, but in modern times, it is becoming the norm to pass the cost to the buyer.
Lawyers attend to almost every aspect of a property transaction in Jamaica.
PURCHASER pays 2% to 4% (purchase price) + 16.5% General Consumption Tax (GCT);
VENDOR pays 3% to 3.5% ( purchase price) + 16.5% GCT.
Agreement for Sale:
The total cost (approximately 0.4% of property value + 16.5% GCT) for the preparation of Agreement for Sale, tax registration form and other miscellaneous costs are typically split evenly between VENDOR and PURCHASER.
VENDOR usually pays 0.20% (property value)+ 16.5% GCT
PURCHASER usually pays 0.20% (property value)+ 16.5% GCT.
Stamp duty is usually 5.5% of the sale/purchase price, and is shared equally between the PURCHASER and VENDOR.
VENDOR pays 2.75%;
PURCHASER pays 2.75%
Registration fee is payable at the National Land Agency.
VENDOR pays 0.25% of the purchase price.
PURCHASER pays 0.25% of the purchase price.
VENDOR pays Transfer tax of 7.5% of property price.
All the best!