Can a US Citizen Own Property in The Bahamas? Legal Considerations for Foreign Buyers

Owning a slice of paradise in The Bahamas is a dream for many, and for US citizens, that dream is entirely within reach. The Bahamas welcomes foreign buyers, including Americans, with open arms. 

While the general rules for property ownership in the country apply to everyone, including expatriates, there are some nuanced considerations that we’ll get into later on. In essence, the government policies are designed to make buying a property in The Bahamas easier for foreigners.

With no language barrier— English is the official language of The Bahamas— and the influence of the neighbouring US lifestyle, American expats can seamlessly settle in the country and find a second home here. 

This blog will highlight the key considerations, including legalities, for US citizens who want to own property in this tropical haven.

Restrictions on Expats Buying Property in The Bahamas

Under the International Persons Landholding Act of 1993, non-Bahamians, including US citizens, can own property in The Bahamas without restrictions. 

The majority of real estate in The Bahamas is freehold. Leasehold holdings, typically Crown Lands (state-owned land), are commonly used for development or agriculture. 

Understanding these classifications is crucial for American expats trying to navigate the Bahamian real estate landscape. Non-Bahamian buyers will require a permit when buying certain types of properties and their uses. 

Expats will need a permit in the following conditions:

  • If the land being purchased is over 2 acres in size

  • When the goal is to rent out the entire property or a portion of it

  • If the land being purchased will be developed for commercial purposes

For all other real estate purchases, they only need to register their property with the Foreign Investment Board. 

Sellers can repatriate the entire amount, including any profits in the currency of the initial investment, after selling the property if they’ve registered their purchase with the Central Bank Exchange Control Department.

Do US Citizens Need Residency To Purchase Property in The Bahamas?

You don’t need to be a resident to purchase property in The Bahamas. However, if you stay in the country for an extended time, you’ll need a residence permit

Anyone who owns a property in The Bahamas is eligible for permanent residency; however, those who invest $750,000 or more get speedy consideration.

Cost Associated With Buying Property in The Bahamas

Expats love buying property in The Bahamas not only for its dreamy location but also because investing in real estate there is quite profitable. Here are some costs and fees you’ll incur in addition to the purchase price of the property.

Value-Added Tax (VAT):  Non-Bahamian buyers face a 10% VAT on purchases over $100,000 and 2.5% on those below. Buyers and sellers cover half of the VAT each.

Real Property Tax:  Property owners incur an annual real property tax determined by market value, usage, and ownership. 

Legal Fees:  It’s better to engage a Bahamian attorney for a seamless purchase, with legal fees typically around 2.5% of the purchase price.

The Bahamas is considered a tax haven, and real estate owners can take advantage of the many tax exemptions available. Seek advice from your real estate agent or attorney to learn more about how you can maximise your tax benefits.

Property Values Appreciation

With its stunning landscapes and captivating lifestyle, The Bahamas presents a real estate market with significant appreciation potential. Property values, influenced by location and amenities, have consistently shown an upward trend. 

Due to high demand, beachfront properties, luxury villas, and gated communities are likely to appreciate most. Additionally, islands experiencing increased interest, like Eleuthera and Exuma, offer promising investment opportunities.

The Bahamas continues to be a sought-after destination; it anticipates close to 8 million visitors in 2023, set to break the destination's record-setting 7.2 million visitors in 2019, despite Hurricane Dorian

The visitors and expats are drawn to the luxury, privacy and proximity to the captivating beauty of the ocean, so real estate investors can find value in properties that cater to these demands. 

Up and Coming Neighbourhoods With High Appreciation Probability

Here are a few of the hottest communities in Nassau where you can embrace the Bahamian way of life, bask in luxury, and get a high return on investment on resale.

Windsor Lakes:  This is an ideal choice for those seeking the beauty of The Bahamas with modern comforts. This new development offers vacant lots priced from $195,000 to $375,000, with homes estimated at around $1 million (pre-construction price). Rental rates are expected to begin at $3,200 a month for townhomes and $6,000 to $10,000 for homes.

Palm Cay:  A paradise for ocean lovers, this beachfront community is centred on a vibrant marina. Rentals start at $3,500 for 2-bedroom condos and can increase with unit size and amenities. New marina units at Palm Cay may rent for $10,000 or more. In comparison, smaller condos sell from around $525,000 and more, with various units available up to $5 million.

Sandyport:  Built around an elaborate canal system, Sandyport offers a tranquil tropical escape steps away from crystal-clear waters. Smaller two-bedroom rentals start at approximately $3,500 a month, while a sizable canal-front home in Sandyport may cost around $10,000.

Goldwynn Phase 2:  Just a short walk from Baha Mar Resort, this community offers opulent beachfront living. One-bedroom rentals in Goldwynn start at $4,500 per month. Sales begin at $750,000 for a one-bedroom unit, and two-bedroom units start at approximately $1 million.

Investors and homebuyers should also consider properties in other smaller islands, affectionately known as Family islands, for lucrative opportunities, both for living and ROI.

Cat Island:  Some notable communities are Pigeon Cay, Hawks Nest, Greenwood, and Fernandez Bay, offering a peaceful island experience without gated communities or high-end amenities.

Exuma Cays:  Short-term rentals are more common in communities like Tar Bay, Tropic of Cancer Beach, Emerald Bay, Rolleville, Rolletown, George Town, and more. 

Treasure Cay:  Real estate offerings range from charming beach bungalows and resort-style condominiums to opulent luxury estates.

Inagua Island:  Inagua is closer to Cuba and Haiti than bustling New Providence! Mathew Town is the island’s heart, its capital, and the only harbour. 

Can US Citizens Get Financing for Buying a Property in The Bahamas?

US citizens can secure mortgages from both local and international banks at favourable terms. To streamline the process, working with reputable banks or mortgage brokers experienced in international transactions is best. 

Like Bahamian residents, permanent residents qualify for property loans, enjoying government incentives for homeownership. For citizens and residents, major banks and insurance firms offer mortgages with attractive terms, including up to 25 years and a minimal 10% down payment. 

Expats may face different criteria, with potential requirements of a 30% down payment and financing in USD at international rates. 

Non-residents from only select countries can expect financing, and each application must meet specific underwriting criteria concerning income, net worth, and credit score. 

With its vast network, ERA Dupuch Real Estate Agency can connect you with top-tier financing options tailored to your needs. Borrowers can typically secure up to US $2 million, with mortgage rates ranging from 5% to 8%, amortised over a maximum of 15 years. 

Considerations For US Citizens Owning Property in The Bahamas

Navigating the Bahamian real estate landscape as a US citizen comes with unique challenges. However, we hope our insights will ensure a smooth and secure experience for expats investing in the tropical haven of The Bahamas.

Hurricane Hazard:  Although hurricane threat is always present in island countries, disastrous hurricanes are rare. Yet, investing in hurricane insurance is best to safeguard your property from natural disasters. It's typically around 2% of the property value; the actual amount depends on the proximity to the ocean, elevation and other factors.

Challenging Registration Process:  US investors may find the property registration process cumbersome, primarily due to non-digital registries and the island time, which many expats come to cherish after a while in The Bahamas. 

However, since 2022, the government has renewed the Real Property Tax Modernization Project, collaborating with a US company. This initiative aims to update the property register and streamline processes. These efforts are expected to alleviate some of the challenges associated with property registration for investors in The Bahamas.

Title Verification:  In the absence of clear proof of ownership by the seller, a buyer may face the risk of subsequent claims from a third party in possession of deeds, leading to potentially years-long legal battles. However, that’s something easily avoidable with due diligence.

Engage the Government of The Bahamas to verify ownership and prevent discrepancies in property titles and tax evaluations. Hiring a trusted attorney is vital for a thorough title verification. 

Steps for Buying Property in The Bahamas as an American

Buying property in The Bahamas as an American is relatively straightforward. Here are the steps you need to take to own your paradise in this island nation.

1. Select an Agent:  You may be tempted to do it alone, but it’s best to engage local real estate agents acquainted with the area you like. Make sure the realtor you select is well-versed in real estate apps, online resources, and digital techniques, giving you a comprehensive view of available properties even if you’re overseas.

2. Understand Costs:  Pre-qualification can save you time and heartache down the road. Understand your financial condition by assessing the closing costs against your budget to decide whether you'd need to save for the down payment or consider financial assistance. 

3. Legal Considerations:  Non-Bahamians must consider the legal aspects of buying a property in The Bahamas, such as getting title verification, obtaining necessary permits, completing required registrations, and understanding the laws that govern aspects like rental income and property renovations. 

4. Choose the Property Type:  Discuss with your real estate agent to understand the type best for your needs. They will help set realistic expectations and choose properties that suit your lifestyle, budget and other preferences. 

5. Tour Selected Properties:  Visit in person or on a virtual tour to get a real feel of the properties you shortlist. Note what you like and dislike about these properties and compare them against your list of needs and wants to make a decision you feel comfortable with.

6. Negotiate the Price and Close the Sale:  Let your real estate agents negotiate the price and navigate other vital aspects, like closing costs and contingencies, to get the best deal for you based on the local market conditions and average home prices in the area. 

Get Our Buyer’s Guide To Learn More

Selling Property in The Bahamas as a US Citizen

Selling property in The Bahamas as a US citizen follows the same general process as for Bahamian owners, with no real distinction. The selling procedures, legal requirements, and market dynamics are typically uniform, ensuring a straightforward experience for expats and locals. Here are general steps you would take to sell your property in The Bahamas:

1. Evaluate the Property:  Engage a real estate agency to determine the right asking price for your property. They will determine the best market value for your home or land based on its condition and location against the market demand.

2. Prepare Your Property for Sale:  Your agent may suggest some changes or repairs to increase the value of your property and make it more attractive to buyers. Our experienced agents at ERA Dupuch Real Estate determine the most effective changes to save you time and money while achieving the best possible results.

3. List Your Property:  You'll need essential documentation, such as property details, legal documents, and any recent inspections or appraisals, to list your property. ERA Dupuch Real Estate Agency uses SEO best practices to make your listing searchable and professional photography to make your property look its best. 

List your property with ERA Dupuch Real Estate today

4. Market Your Listing:  We leverage our network and online platforms to ensure your listing is featured on global listing portals, gaining maximum exposure. All properties listed with ERA Dupuch Real Estate are also listed with Bahamas Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is fed to all participating brokerages,, realtor. ca and a host of other sites, dramatically increasing the visibility of your property. 

5. Negotiate and Close the Deal:  This stage involves securing a purchaser, negotiating terms, handling paperwork, and addressing legalities. Let your broker vet potential buyers to ensure their financial readiness and negotiate the best deal for you.

Get Our Seller’s Guide To Learn More

Considerations for Buying Commercial Property in The Bahamas

Investing in commercial property in The Bahamas can yield solid returns due to the stable growth and a healthy regular income, particularly on New Providence Island. While privately owned islands may not generate immediate investment income, their value can increase dramatically if chosen carefully. 

The Bahamian government provides foreign investors equal access to incentives, including land grants, tax concessions, and direct marketing and budgetary support. However, strict rules govern business operations for non-citizens in specific categories

Regardless, understanding tax in The Bahamas, business restrictions, and rental prospects is crucial when considering the purchase of commercial property in the country.

Learn costs associated with investment property in The Bahamas

The dream of owning a piece by the turquoise waters of The Bahamas can be a tangible reality for US citizens. The attractive policies of this English-speaking country and its compatible lifestyle make it an attractive destination for American expats. 

Whether it's the dreamy location, tax benefits, or the potential for lucrative returns on real estate investments, The Bahamas checks all the boxes. 

As you begin your home hunting in The Bahamas, consider ERA Dupuch Real Estate Agency as your trusted partner in navigating the Bahamian real estate landscape. Explore exclusive properties and lucrative investment opportunities with the expert assistance of our experienced agents and brokers. Contact us today!

Posted by Helen Dupuch on
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