Jamaica:Guide to Buying Property: Costs and Procedures

I ran across this article, and felt that the information could be beneficial to those of you thinking about purchasing property in Jamaica. Dated Nov 2007.

http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Caribbean/Jamaica/Buying-Guide

How difficult is the property purchase process in Jamaica?

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property.

In purchasing property the first step is to make an offer. Upon acceptance by the vendor, a land survey and title search is conducted to confirm if there are any other claims or conflicting interests registered against the property. Once fully satisfied, the buyer is advised to lodge a caveat on the property to prohibit any other interest from being registered against the property, until transfer has been completed.

There are two kinds of land titles in Jamaica. A common law title is a certificate of ownership used for unregistered lands. However, this is not a full title to the land. Nonetheless, a common law title can be upgraded to a registered title. This registered title is both legal and official. 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.

The Agreement for Sale is then prepared, normally by the vendor’s lawyer. It is usually signed by both parties either at the agency (if a real estate agent is employed) or in the presence of a lawyer. The transaction becomes official and binding upon signing the agreement. At the same time, the buyer will be required to pay a deposit of about 10% – 20% of the selling price, depending on what has been agreed upon, and to pay his share of the stamp duty on the transaction.

It is normal for payment to be made in a number of installments.

It is important to note that 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.

After signing the sale agreement, an application should be submitted to the Office of the Registrar of Titles, and government duties paid. An important reminder: documents on conveyance of land must be stamped within 30 days of signing, to avoid substantial penalties.

The transfer of the deed signals the completion of the sale. If the purchase is in cash, the time it takes to complete will depend largely on the participating entities. On the other hand, if a mortgage is involved, the completion can last up to three months or more from the date of signing.

The whole process of registering a property can take around 54 days to complete.

See above link for Cont:

Questions>On Moving to JA >Schools

The following post was recently placed by me on jamaicans.com

Hi,
I have been tasked with the job of gathering information for a free Resource guide e-book, that will be made available to expats relocating to Jamaica.
Expat friends here in Kingston have shared with me that they could have been better prepared for a move to Jamaica, had there been some type of a Resources Guide about a move to Jamaica.

So, I have decided to gather Research/Feedback from individuals on what they believe would be helpful to know before moving to Jamaica, or what would they recommend to individuals considering a move to the sun.

If you have already moved to JA please share with me a few things that you wish you knew before arriving in JA.

If you are in the process of moving to JA, then please share about what topics/resources that may be helpful for you/family

Note: The following is a question and then my response to the question Jamaicans.com

Welcome to Ja.com. I don’t think that I have much to add, just wanted to say hello…..hmmm…perhaps you could include information on schools, an explanation of Jamaica’s school system ( common-entrance exam, CXC exams), and perhaps help with locating extra-curricular activities for children (swimming, tennis etc.)

eta: perhaps also include websites (if any), phone numbers for various country/region related associations, and some information on the ins and outs of purchasing real estate..

RESPONSE:

Coolbeans,

Thanks for taking the time to drop a note and provide input. I do have some things about schools in ourupcoming ebook and on my Blog Transitionsunshine.info. there are a few pieces on Schools in Kingston. My post however does not really touch CXC as that is not the target market, but I link to things that could be useful for that topic.
This blog is still in its’ early stages, as truth be told “meh sorta fraid the writing business” very unlike my hubby.

I am the true story teller, but the writing and me??? I will try to overcome this, as there is so much I want to share on.
The entire country is complex yet beautiful, but when people have to worry daily about food and shelter, how can they move on to other things, or enjoy the beauty for that matter.

I have several links to things you mentioned in my upcoming Resource guide e-book, which will be ready by mid to late June is the plan. I even have an on-line Directory at my blog post.
So I am trying, it will be work in progress, as I will be adding more each month is the plan. I can only guess at this time what Expats want and not so much returning residents, so we will see.

You are correct, as there really is not much for kids to do, and I here that often.There is one big play center in Kingston at Loshusan center, but I her it is expensive and simply noisy games. There is also a woman doing arts/ and crafts at Grosvernor but I here tell its way expensive as well.
A local young artist and her boyfirend will be offering summer art & tennis classes this summer in Liguean, but then again this is only Kingston based. Stella Marris now has a great pool for those with swimming kids.

So there is a business idea for ALL you readers. Lets do something great for the likkel youth them in Kingston.

Thanks
Trinija

Questions>On Moving to JA>Discouragement

The following post was recently placed by me on jamaicans.com

Hi,
I have been tasked with the job of gathering information for a free Resource guide e-book, that will be made available to expats relocating to Jamaica.
Expat friends here in Kingston have shared with me that they could have been better prepared for a move to Jamaica, had there been some type of a Resources Guide about a move to Jamaica.

So, I have decided to gather Research/Feedback from individuals on what they believe would be helpful to know before moving to Jamaica, or what would they recommend to individuals considering a move to the sun.

If you have already moved to JA please share with me a few things that you wish you knew before arriving in JA.

If you are in the process of moving to JA, then please share about what topics/resources that may be helpful for you/family

Note: The following is a question and then my response to the question Jamaicans.com

I wouldn’t know where to start to move to JA. I even have business ideas but family friends (in politics and banking no less) have discouraged me as I have a “good job” where I am so “what I’m going back to JA for”…

So I guess my main concerns are:

– How to overcome obstacles family and friends may put in your path
– How to find honest business partners or get funding for a projec

RESPONSE:

Hello BlackStar,

The first thing you will need do, is to ignore comments, as best as you can. When I decided to follow my husband here, I actually got the worst comments from my West Indian pals. While many say they care, many times you are getting reasons of why they themselves will not move to JA, and this may have absolutely nothing to do with you or your planned move.
From the Trinis I heard ” gurl you mad, dah place backward no tail, you leaving you good job and moving where? ” So I would ask, ” have you been there” Ans “no but I here, as meh friend tell me”

Then my Jamaicans friends were the most discouraging, “about why they could never live there, why they moved, about the high crime rate, about all the ignorant people, the horrible corrupt government etc etc” Trust me I heard it all. My African American friends, were all certain that my Jamaican husband did not have a Green Card, or something strange was going on and we had to bolt. Why else would we leave the United States ? I simply learned to channel who I told we were moving.

Many of my White American friends all said great, cool, i wish I could do such. It was funny as ever, but then my gay friends were silent. So all this to say, ignore folks, and march to your own drums my friend. Not an easy task in this life but certainly doable.

Moving here is not easy, but if you start building your networks now and coming on small trips, you can meet people and learn the lay of the land. Again, I will never say its an easy move and piece of cake,as I can write a book with stories.Power going my first month, and I had an early morning meeting, water going, forcing me to bath in a bottle of water. I then learned about Water tanks, generators, candles and buckets for holding water fast.
Business partners will be gained by being in a Network and like Facebook and putting in your dues of leanring the culture.
I am not sure if you are Jamaican, or if your family is, but being able to arrive and stay here without needing work permits etc. would make things easier.

Thanks for your post
TriniJa

Questions>On Moving to Jamaica>Public Services

The following post was recently placed by me on jamaicans.com

Hi,
I have been tasked with the job of gathering information for a free Resource guide e-book, that will be made available to expats relocating to Jamaica.
Expat friends here in Kingston have shared with me that they could have been better prepared for a move to Jamaica, had there been some type of a Resources Guide about a move to Jamaica.

So, I have decided to gather Research/Feedback from individuals on what they believe would be helpful to know before moving to Jamaica, or what would they recommend to individuals considering a move to the sun.

If you have already moved to JA please share with me a few things that you wish you knew before arriving in JA.

If you are in the process of moving to JA, then please share about what topics/resources that may be helpful for you/family

Note: The following is a question and then my response to the question Jamaicans.com

One of the many bones of contention I`ve heard my mother mentioned are partly to do with public services, she moved back a few years ago,telephones, electricity, water, all less than satisfactory,especially the waiting times for some items,also she complains about construction workers who quote a price but the final total is way above the quotation.

I`ll have a word with her and get back with my findings

RESPONSE

Hello :
Thanks for taking the time to respond, and I will address some of your concerns. For now do share with your mother.

Yes, your poor mother is dealing with nuff, as it pertains to public services. Cable $ Wireless ( Cable & worthless) we all say JPS, Water commission etc.

I was amazed my first year here about lining up to go pay a bill at Paymaster because one could not mail in payments with checks, or do it on the phone.
Or you could get into, not receiving your bill and having to still pay when they forgot to send you a bill. If you forget that the bill did not arrive you could arrive home to a dark house. While this has not happened to us, I know several that this has happened to. We had our phones cut for two days once, as they said we had a balance overdue, which was really a credit due to us.

So yes the system is in abit of a shamble, but so it ahh go, so your mother may have to adjust her habits, as things may not soon change. What works for us now, and I share often is for people to make a note of when bills are due.
We now have it set up to pay on line. I am not sure if that will work for your mother, as if she is like my mother in law, she nah paying bills on line. But if she has a check list of when things are due, she can save herself some drama. Where she gets up one morning a month, take a bottle of water and head off to Paymaster say a Tuesday at 1′ oclock. We even figure out times and days to go, no joke, or she can hire a Bearer to come around once a month and deal with all of this for her.

Yes, workmen participate in that activity all the time, again i have had experience that is up close with this. What she can do is write down what they say and have the jokers sign it. Get the Boss mans’ name and his cell and insist on what you will pay.
I always say they pull prices out of there bottoms, as they can get away with it, due to shabby pratices, many loose money, then need to make up on innocent folks.
People often assume I am “farrin” so I have money, and this drives me wild, and returning residents get hit with that a great deal as well. It is all pure survival is my conclusion.
Where is your mother living? Do tell and mention more if you can in this channel, as sharing is great. I will continue to share as best as I can.

Tek Care
Cheers
TriniJa

Build or Purchase Homes In Jamaica

To Build or to Buy?
By John Casey

Posted at jamaicans.com

One of the foremost thoughts of those migrating to Jamaica is to buy a piece of land on the beach or one with a panoramic view of the Caribbean ocean to build their dream home. It isn’t as easy or as practical as it sounds. Over the years I have touched on this subject on several occasions but never gave it the justice it deserved. I have been prompted this month by two articles in recent editions of one of Jamaica’s national newspapers, The Jamaica Observer. The first one is from a letter to the editor of The Jamaica Observer from Mr. Leon Hughes, a Jamaican in the Diaspora from England.

The other one is from a follow-up story written by one of the leading journalists for The Jamaica Observer, Mark Wignall. By the time you finish reading this you will have some insight into what you would encounter in building that dream home.

One of my earliest readers, who I will call Betty, provided me with first hand knowledge of all the problems she encountered with her building project. Betty’s situation was, she bought a run down hotel that needed major renovations instead of building from the ground up. She came to Jamaica with years of experience in buying fix-it-uppers and selling them for profit. However, Betty had never done this in Jamaica. Before she moved here, I went to great lengths to prepare her for the Jamaican construction worker.

With confidence in her past experiences including working with Jamaicans in Florida, my cautions went on deaf ears. It didn’t take long for her to learn the hard way. For instance, one of her foremen was caught stealing money from her and her laborers on payday. When she found out and dismissed the man, she had to hire a bodyguard to protect her from his death threats. One of her trusted employees had friends steal building materials and tools to build her own home. This went unnoticed for some time because the supplies were taken away in a boat in the middle of the night. Several months into the project it was discovered that the wrong material was used necessitating demolishing part of the building to correct the situation.

The cost between the proper material, that was supposedly ordered and paid for, and the wrong material was pocketed by a different foreman. All this and several other instances cost Betty thousands of US dollars during the life of the renovations.

In Mr. Hughes letter, he mentions that he is nearing retirement and wants to return to his native Jamaica to enjoy the rest of his life. His first problem was living and working so far from Jamaica. He states with confidence that he was sure that he “knew all the tricks and could overcome any obstacle.” His family recommended an architect but as soon as the firm found out where he was living the prices went up. This architect went so far as to pretend to submit plans to the local planning board for approval. When Mr. Hughes came for his regular visit the architect and the money were nowhere to be found.

Secondly, the person whom he was buying the land from didn’t have a title to it but insisted that Mr. Hughes pay a 50% deposit. Once again the money was unrecoverable. Lastly, even his attorney couldn’t be bothered in helping him through his plight. His letter ends with this profound statement; “Unfortunately, no one can be trusted, and it seems one has to be right on the spot to do the business.” I highly concur with his conclusion.

Mr. Wignall’s article reflects on Mr. Hughes being victimized by those who took advantage of his living so far away. He states, “Unfortunately, this is an old story. Old but sad and tragically true.” Mr. Wignall continues with excerpts from a retired economist and an attorney-at-law who responded to Mr. Hughes’ letter and gave incredible stories of scamming that occurs in Jamaica. To read Mr. Wignall’s whole article, log on to www.jamaicaobserver.com and look for Wignall’s World, Sunday, April 6.

At this point you might have some reservations about constructing your own home in Jamaica. I must point out that these examples are merely that, examples. There are many reputable contractors that are above reproach waiting to assist you. It is very important to check and double check all referrals and references. Further it would still be advisable to be on site at all times to make sure that you are getting what you’re paying for. I too was one of those people who wanted to build their own home but several Jamaican friends advised against it. Today I am very happy with the existing house that I purchased. My opinion is to buy not build.

http://www.jamaicans.com/articles/primearticles/tobuildortobuy.shtml

A Peace Corps Volunteer’s Tale

A Peace Corp Volunteer shares his cultural experiences of being in Jamaica. These stories appear to be have written sometime ago, but from a cultural perspective it could have been last year.

http://www.abengnews.com/index.php?news=328

http://www.abengnews.com/index.php?news=336

http://www.abengnews.com/index.php?news=354

http://www.abengnews.com/index.php?news=349

On Surviving as a Trailing Spouse

In the parlance of the world of expats who move to a foreign country, the “trailing spouse” is the wife or husband who follows behind the partner moving to work.

The welfare of the trailing spouse is critical to a move to a foreign land because studies have shown that some 60-70% of failed moves have nothing to do with the job, the employee or the company, but instead have everything to do with what happens at home, with the trailing spouse.

In my own move back to Jamaica, I have experienced some of this myself. My wife had only been to Jamaica twice before moving permanently, once to visit and the second time to get married. She has a Trinidadian background, but moved to live in the US when she was nine.

Moving to Jamaica was a culture shock for her, even though she loved the great food.

Recently, as we have been interviewing expats and their wives, and doing research into what it takes for an expat to move successfully to Jamaica we have come across some excellent material that described her experience over the last two years perfectly. It was just a little uncanny in terms of its accuracy.

In fact, I think that the research might describe the experience of any couple that moves back to Jamaica — whether they have a Jamaican background or not. More often than not, there is one spouse that wants to move back more than the other.

They take the lead in finding themselves a job. They move to take the job, either paying their own way or when sponsored by a company.

The trailing spouse, (who is a woman more than 95% of the time), agrees, but perhaps with a lot less enthusiasm than the working spouse.

They arrive in Jamaica, only to find that their working spouse is MIA (missing in action.)

For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that the working spouse is a man, and the trailing spouse is a woman.

He spends all his time at the office, busy adapting to the new working culture. He has to be successful at the job, because that is the reason he came after all, and brought his family this far.

She, by contrast, is dealing with a new culture, a new language and is doing so on her own. More often than not, she cannot work due to legal restrictions. She probably left a good career back home to follow her husband, and is all of a sudden thrown into the unfamiliar role of housewife.

She experiences the brunt of the culture shock, and quickly finds that there are few people who can relate to what she is going through, including her old friends back home. The company typically provides few resources, as she isn’t an employee and has few rights of her own.

In other words, she is in a tough spot.

What many do is to retreat.

The phases of cultural adaptation upon arriving in Jamaica, or any other country are simple:

1) The honeymoon phase comes first — the expat loves the warm climate, the friendly people, the beautiful beaches and is in love with the experience.

2) The culture shock comes next as they realize the reality of living in Jamaica or Nigeria — high crime, poverty, very little quality shopping, high prices, people trying to rip them off, etc. They begin to blame their new country for all its ills, and talk about it being backward, or stricken, or even cursed. They see the people as violent, aggressive and ignorant.

3) Most expats exit culture shock is by accepting that their new country of abode is not going to change, and that it is they who will have to change. They come to see that it is their own expectations and norms that are out of place. They question what they assume to be “acceptable” and start to understand more and more about the culture and its people.

4) Adaptation comes when they change their actions to suit their new environment. When surprising events happen, they have learned to question their own thinking and start asking themselves what they need to do differently. They eagerly look for and accept opportunities to get more and more involved in the world around them, learning the language and getting more and more integrated into Jamaican society.

Unfortunately, many expats never leave the second phase. Instead, they withdraw more and more into themselves, and venture out less and less from the safety of their homes. They mix only with other expats, and surround themselves with what is called “the expat bubble.” Their favorite sport becomes “Jamaica bashing” which they enjoy doing with other expats who live in their bubbles.

The count down the days to when they will be able to leave, and leave for good.

They are likely to pressure their husbands to leave the assignment early, and some have left, with children in tow, telling their husbands “I’ll see you back home — I can’t stand another day of this.”

There is an excellent book called A Portable Identity — a Woman’s Guide to Maintaining a Sense of Self While Moving Overseas by Bryson and Hoge that I strongly recommend for trailing spouses of all nationalities.

As far as I can tell, Jamaican wives who are trailing spouses are likely to go through these phases, and I recommend this book to them. Working spouses can also experience culture shock, and there are some good books that address the difference in culture that they are likely to find.

All in all, anyone moving to Jamaica or any other developing country, returnee or expat, is advised to do a lot of homework before they come, and it’s a good idea to assume that there will be some culture shock, and that they should be well-prepared.

Written By Francis Wade