Investing in Bahamas Real Estate: Costs And Crucial Considerations

The Bahamas is a hotspot for global investors and locals alike. Investing in Bahamas real estate goes beyond picturesque beaches— it's an opportunity to unlock lucrative investments while basking in the island's unique charm. 

In this guide, Owner-Broker Peter Dupuch discusses the details of investing in Bahamian real estate, offering insights and expert advice to steer you towards success. 

From tourist-driven rental properties to costs and crucial considerations of selling and buying properties and businesses in The Bahamas, we uncover the wealth of opportunities awaiting savvy investors. 

5 Reasons For Investing in Real Estate in The Bahamas 

Bahamian real estate attracts investors from all around the world as it offers both financial gains and lifestyle benefits. Following are some reasons why investing in The Bahamas real estate is a lucrative venture worth exploring. 

1. It’s Incredibly Popular Among Tourists

The Bahamas boasts a booming tourism industry, drawing almost 8 million visitors (2023) annually to its pristine beaches, vibrant culture, and world-class amenities. This popularity among tourists creates a high demand for rental properties and holiday homes, allowing investors to capitalise on a lucrative market with steady rental income. 

Those who travel to The Bahamas often and stay longer also prefer buying a second home or a vacation home here. First, they don't need to rent or lease a property whenever they're in the country. Second, they can earn rental income when not using it and sell it for profit after a few years, thanks to a steady real estate demand. 

2. Low Transactional Cost

Buying or selling a property in The Bahamas involves few overheads. There's no income, capital gains, or inheritance tax, so you only need to pay value-added tax (VAT), legal fees, and commissions. The total transactional cost is around 15.5% to 20% of the net property price. 

These costs include VAT (previously called government stamp duties), legal fees, recording fees, and real estate agent commissions. 

3. Political and Economic Stability

Political and economic stability is crucial for long-term investments, providing a solid base for real estate ventures. 

Since the country's independence in 1973, it has enjoyed stable politics and applied solid economic policies with a steady GDP growth (14.4% in 2022). 

Moreover, the Bahamas' governance is modelled after the British system, ensuring transparency and stability. This ideal environment with reduced risks for property ownership makes investors feel confident in buying real estate in The Bahamas.

4. Pro-Landlord Tenancy Laws

Although the demand for rental properties is high, thanks to the huge influx of tourists, renting a vacation home or condo has its challenges. However, you'll be glad to know that the tenancy laws in The Bahamas heavily favour landlords.

The tenant and the landlord decide among themselves the duration and rent of the tenancy and penalties for late payment. Tenants pay for the utilities, but you can decide to include a flat fee in the rent or have them pay separately. 

In case of tenancy at sufferance when eviction is necessary, a landlord can summon police to the residence immediately, if required, without a court order.

Since regulations favour landlord rights, you can easily protect your assets and maintain profitable rental properties. Best of all, you don't need to pay income tax on your rental income!

5. Residency and Citizenship Program

Foreigners can own property in The Bahamas but need a residence permit for an extended stay. Non-Bahamians who own property in the country are automatically eligible for a residence permit. 

Moreover, if they invest $750,000 or more, they will get speedy consideration for permanent residency. 

Offering permanent residency for property buyers, The Bahamas presents an enticing opportunity for foreign real estate investors seeking a desirable location to establish roots. From a strictly ROI point-of-view, the residency program provides investors long-term stability and security in their property holdings. 

With the assurance of residency, investors can capitalise on potential appreciation in property values over time, diversify their investment portfolio, and potentially access additional business and employment opportunities within the country. 

This stability and potential for growth make Bahamian real estate a more attractive and profitable investment option for both local and foreign investors.

Taxes Payable on an Investment Property

If you're eyeing Bahamas real estate as a profitable investment venture, then understanding the tax laws and regulations is crucial. Let's explore the taxes applicable to investment properties, their implications, and considerations for a smooth buying process.

Value-Added Tax (VAT) or Stamp Duty

In the Bahamas, stamp duty is a government-imposed tax on property conveyances, applicable to all real estate transactions. This tax is levied each time a property changes ownership, with both buyers and sellers typically sharing the tax burden equally or in decided proportions.

As of July 1, 2022, the following rates came into effect:

  • 2.5% if the value is less than $100,000.00

  • 4% if the value is from $100,000 up to $300,000

  • 6% if the value is from $300,000 up to $500,000

  • 8% if the value is from $500,000 up to $700,000

  • 9% if the value is from $700,000 up to $1 million

  • 10% if the value is over $1 million

For First-Time Home Buyers:  Individuals purchasing their first property may be eligible for an exemption from VAT on residential properties or vacant land intended for residential use, provided its value does not exceed $300,000.

Similarly, a 4% VAT will be applicable on a property transaction valued at more than $300,000 but less than $500,000. Bahamian citizens can also obtain a VAT refund on construction or renovation costs for their first home. 

For Foreign Buyers:  As of 2023, foreign buyers will pay 2.5% on purchases below $100,000 and a 10% VAT on purchases over $100,000, regardless of the sale value.

Property Purchased By a Company:  If a property is acquired under a company's name, the transaction will incur a 10% VAT, regardless of the sale value.

VAT on Real Estate Services:  10% VAT applies to all real estate services, such as commissions, appraisals, legal work, insurance, etc. 

Annual Real Property Tax

In The Bahamas, you won't pay income tax, but you are legally required to pay annual real property tax. Once the bill is issued, it must be settled according to the Real Property Tax Act to avoid incurring interest. The Department of Inland Revenue assesses the property value and the corresponding property taxes.

Following are real property tax rates applicable to different types of properties and their usage:

Owner-Occupied Property:  If the owners live on the property, they will pay tax according to the following sliding scale: 

  • Up to $300,000 market value: Exempt

  • Above $300,000 but not exceeding $500,000: 0.625%

  • Exceeding $500,000 market value: 1%, capped at $120k annually.

Unimproved Property:  Properties under construction or vacant lands incur tax according to the following rates:

  • Up to $7,000 market value: $100

  • Properties valued over $7,000: 2%

Bahamian citizens do not pay any tax on unimproved property.

Commercial Property:  Any property owned by a business or intended for commercial activities, including non-owner occupied and rental properties, incur the following property tax rates:

  • Up to $500,000 market value: 0.75%

  • Above $500,000 but not exceeding $2 million market value: 1%

  • Value exceeding $2 million: 1.5%

Senior Citizen Benefit:  Aged 65 or older with an NIB Senior Citizen's card are eligible for a property tax exemption below $300,000 and a 50% discount for the remaining balance of home value, provided it does not exceed one million dollars.

Full Payment Benefit:  A 10% discount is given if tax is paid by March 31 of any tax year.

Besides the above benefits, many properties are exempt from real property tax. You should talk to your real estate agent or a legal advisor to understand all the taxes and tax exemptions applicable to your property.

Commissions, Legal Fees, and Other Charges

The cost of hiring experienced realtors and attorneys is worth its weight in gold in terms of saving time, minimising legal risks, and avoiding potential fines or issues arising from misunderstandings of regulations. 

Legal fees:  Typically around 2.5% of the property price, legal fees are paid by both seller and buyer to their respective attorneys. Additionally, you'll pay a small fee to record title deeds at the Public Registry.

Commission:  The seller is typically responsible for paying the real estate commission. 

BREA standard commissions include:

  • Unimproved Property/Vacant Land: 10% of the sales price

  • Improved property/Homes/Condos: 6% of the sales price

  • Commercial property or building: 6% of the sales price

  • Business: 10% of the sales price

A 10% VAT is payable on all real estate services, including legal fees, commissions, insurance, and any other miscellaneous charges.  

Cost Associated With Rental Property

Rentals in the Bahamas are separated into two broad categories: short-term (holiday or vacation rentals) vs common rentals. The landlord and tenant can freely negotiate the rental amount without government restrictions for both types of rentals.

For common rentals, a security deposit with an advanced payment of two months' rent is required. For holiday rentals, a reservation fee of 20 – 50% is common. 

Remember to draw up a clear agreement to record all terms and conditions, including when you should return the security deposit and when you can keep it

Registration Fee for Leasing Property 

The International Persons Landholding Act requires all foreigners who plan to lease their properties to register with the Bahamas Investment Authority. The fees are as follows:

Application for registration: $25.00

Application for permit: $25.00

Permit: $500

Certificate of Registration:

  • $50K or less: $50.00

  • Between $50K & $101K: $75.00

  • More than $101K: $100.00

Lease agreements may incur tourism-related taxes and licensing requirements, so renting through a trusted agent like ERA Dupuch Real Estate is best to protect your rights and save money and hassle down the road.

Explore rental properties listed with ERA Dupuch Real Estate

Tax on Rental Property

Tax in The Bahamas is pretty straightforward. You pay no income tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax. Your rental income is also tax-free whether a business or an individual owns the property. This translates to more profits in your pocket and hassle-free wealth transfer to loved ones. 

You will only pay annual property tax on your rental property as follows: 

  • Less than $250K market value: Exempt

  • Between $250K and $500K: 0.75%

  • Over $500K: 1%

Additionally, you will pay a 10% hotel guest tax for each room available for rent. This amount is collected from the guests with the rent.

Best Areas to Invest in The Bahamas

Without a doubt, the most popular place for investment is the main island, New Providence, and its capital city, Nassau. However, each island in The Bahamas has its distinct charm. In recent years, many family islands have undergone rapid developments to attract visitors and provide them with amenities to make their stay comfortable and memorable. 

Choosing the best islands to invest in needs more consideration now. It's best to discuss your investment goals with an experienced realtor to ensure you're making the right choice to achieve your financial goals. 

Peter, our resident real estate expert, shares some of the best areas in The Bahamas to invest in the ever-changing Bahamian real estate market. 

1. Nassau: New Construction

Best For:  Multi-million dollar construction projects such as resorts, casinos, upscale condo-hotels and gated communities. 

Nassau, the bustling capital of The Bahamas, stands as the epitome of modernity and luxury. Boasting a vibrant cityscape adorned with skyscrapers and waterfront developments, Nassau offers an unparalleled environment for new construction projects. 

With its well-established infrastructure, Nassau provides easy access to essential amenities and services required for construction. From readily available construction materials to skilled labour, the city streamlines the construction process, ensuring efficiency and quality.

Moreover, Nassau's status as a prime tourist destination and a hotspot for real estate activity justifies investments in new construction projects. The demand for upscale condos and luxury developments is consistently high, promising lucrative opportunities for investors and developers alike. Following are some of the booming construction projects in Nassau:

Palm Cay:  Palm Cay is a premier marina-based community offering beachfront living and nearly 200 boat slips. With upscale properties, family-friendly amenities, and proximity to Exuma Cays, it's a top choice for boaters and investors.

Goldwynn Phase 2:  Goldwynn, Nassau's premier boutique beachfront Condominium hotel, offers contemporary island living with prime beachfront access near Baha Mar Resort. With luxury condo-hotel suites and exclusive residences, it caters to residents' needs while providing an opportunity for tax-free rental income.

Aqualina:  Aqualina redefines ultra-luxe living in The Bahamas with 27 exclusive 3- and 4-bedroom residences boasting private elevator access, stunning ocean views, and unmatched finishes. Amenities include an infinity pool, tennis court, and full-service fitness centre, offering a Zen lifestyle. Owners can generate rental income through the flexible rental program.

2. Nassau: Short Term Rentals

Best For:  Investors who want to lease their properties for profit

Nassau is a prime destination for investors seeking lucrative opportunities in short-term rentals. As the most developed and sought-after spot for tourists in The Bahamas, Nassau boasts almost all modern amenities. Short-term rentals here thrive due to high demand from visitors who prefer Nassau as a comfortable temporary home base to visit other family islands. 

Investors can capitalise on short-term rentals, including beachfront condos, luxury villas, and cosy apartments. These properties offer enticing perks such as proximity to pristine beaches, stunning ocean views, access to resort-style amenities, and convenient locations near attractions and dining options. 

With a well-managed rental property, investors can enjoy substantial returns. Condos can rent in Nassau anywhere from $3,500 to $4,500 for beachfront units. Similarly, you can expect around $3,900 for houses and up to $8,500 for beachfront properties.

Delaporte:  From luxurious waterfront residences to vibrant community amenities, Delaporte offers a lifestyle of relaxation and sophistication. In Delporte, you can rent condos for as little as $4,500 to townhouses for up to $725,000. 

Palm Cay:  Renowned for its scenic beach-facing residences and top-notch amenities, Palm Cay rentals for 2-bedroom condos start at $3,500, with larger units and marina views fetching upwards of $10,000.

Eastern Road:  Running along the northern shore of New Providence, Eastern Road stands as one of the island's oldest residential communities. The neighbourhood is entirely residential, with rents beginning from $3,850 for a small house to beyond $12,000 for bigger houses.  

Paradise Island:  Connected to New Providence by two bridges, Paradise Island is a captivating island boasting an array of condos, homes, shops, and amenities. Properties on Paradise Island offer breathtaking views, and rentals start from as low as $3,200 and spike up to $60,000.

3. Exuma Island: Rental Properties

Best For:  Investors interested in rental properties to meet high demand

Exuma offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city life in Nassau. Located 142 miles south of the Bahamian capital, it boasts tranquil natural beauty and a laidback lifestyle. Residents rely on weekly mail boat deliveries, and the cost of living is relatively higher due to imported goods.

The island has a booming short-term vacation rental market, with notable communities like Tar Bay, Tropic of Cancer Beach, Emerald Bay, Rolleville, Rolletown, and George Town. Monthly rents for two-bedroom units range from $800 to $1,500- $2,000. By contrast, a one-night stay at Musha Cay, a private island resort in the Exumas, can cost between $25,000 and $50,000.

According to Peter, "Exuma has very high short-term rental average daily rates and occupancy rates so there is a dire need for both long-term and short-term rental investment properties. So, it's a good place to invest because if you buy something or build something, you'll be able to rent it easily either long-term or short-term."

Many construction projects are underway in the Exumas, with costs ranging from $350 to $750 per sq/ft. You can buy a vacant beachfront lot for under $750,000 and a home under $2 million. 

4. Eleuthera: Rental Properties 

Best For:  Investors interested in rental properties to meet high demand

Eleuthera is currently an affordable place to buy homes and rental properties, offering a more budget-friendly alternative to New Providence. However, real estate prices are expected to increase with increasing tourist interest in attractions like Hatchet Bay, Devil's Backbone Reef, Rainbow Bay, and French Leave Beach.

Most of the properties in Eleuthera offer splendid ocean views— you can invest in cosy condos, spacious family homes, and empty lots by the beach. Its closest neighbours, Spanish Wells and Russell Island, are best for peaceful living, while Harbour Island features luxury private mansions commonly frequented by celebrities looking for peace and privacy. 

Like Exumas, Eleuthera is an excellent investment to satisfy the high demand for rental properties. You can buy real estate for as low as $20,000 to more than $42.5 million, with an average price of $386 sq/ft. 

5. Nassau: Vacant Lots

Best For:  Investing in projects in the early stages of development

Investing in vacant lots in Nassau presents a unique opportunity for savvy investors to capitalise on appreciating property values. Purchasing lots in the early stages of development offers significant potential for price appreciation as the project progresses. 

"Projects in the early stages of development undergo intrinsic appreciation since property price goes up with the completion of each phase of development," explains Peter.

Lots with all the necessary permits for construction are particularly desirable, as they mitigate risks and streamline the building process. While vacant lots without permits may come at a lower initial cost, those with approved permits offer more significant long-term investment potential. 

Nassau offers many single-family and multi-family lots in the city's various prestigious gated communities. These lots are even more appealing because they're ready to develop, increasing your chances of quick returns as the project nears completion.

Windsor Lakes:  It's one of the latest gated communities in New Providence, offering single-family lakefront lots, perimeter lots, and multi-family lots in a peaceful setting. Adjacent to Albany Resort, it provides a charming and nature-based lifestyle. Amenities include a clubhouse, gym, pool, playgrounds, and beach access, with an average home price of $1.1M.

The Bahamas Real Estate Investment Considerations

With its mesmerising landscapes, tax-friendly regulations, and robust tourism industry, the archipelago has long been a magnet for investors worldwide. However, navigating the nuances of the Bahamian real estate market requires a thorough understanding of the challenges accompanying such investments. 

Let's look at some of these challenges and considerations and what advice Peter gives to navigate them.

High Cost of Selling a Property

With growing demand for holiday homes and private islands, the average property value has increased in The Bahamas. Then there's the VAT and other costs and fees you must pay when buying or selling a property. Some investors feel concerned that the increased selling costs may make it challenging to make profitable investments. 

Peter advises investors to think long-term— instead of thinking about house flipping, keep the property long enough to appreciate. "The key is to buy in the early phase of development or improve the property to make it more valuable," Peter adds. 

The absence of capital gains and inheritance tax also ensures a high ROI on your property when you sell it. 

Insurance and Hurricane Threats

Many investors feel concerned about hurricanes in the Bahamas, although factually speaking, The Bahamas gets just the same amount of storms and hurricanes as anybody else in Florida or the West Coast. 

Peter notes that more weight is given to hurricanes than necessary. "Instead of worrying about a hurricane which may or may never hit, everyday wear and tear due to north-westly cold fronts or whether the property is in a low-lying area that floods in a regular rain are more important considerations". 

Due to a constant threat of damage due to proximity to the ocean, "our building code is better so we're better prepared to handle hurricanes and other wear and tear", Peter explains.

Peter also stresses the importance of investing in hurricane insurance to safeguard investment property. It typically costs around 2% of property value based on location (access to beach, elevation, etc), size, and amenities. 

Permits and Transactions on Island Pace

Embracing the laid-back lifestyle of The Bahamas is part of its allure, but for investors, it can also present challenges. Securing construction permits and finalising sale transactions may meander along on island time, testing the patience of those accustomed to swift processes. 

Peter underscores the importance of engaging reputable real estate agents and attorneys. He stresses the importance of "liaising with the real estate agent and creating a team that will work together to get the job done smoothly and on time". 

Proactive communication and collaboration with professionals who understand the nuances of navigating Bahamian bureaucracy will minimise stress and ensure projects move forward smoothly and efficiently despite the relaxed pace.

Construction Challenges

Constructing in The Bahamas presents unique challenges, such as high costs and labour shortages. Being an island nation, everything must be imported and duty-paid, contributing to higher construction costs. 

Developed islands like New Providence enjoy easier access to resources, while others face logistical hurdles. Despite these challenges, investing in The Bahamas real estate is lucrative due to robust tourism from major global markets.

"Investors can meet these challenges by carefully selecting a skilled and dedicated team", Peter advises. Strategic planning and careful resource allocation can offset costs and streamline construction processes.

Investing in Bahamas real estate offers a wealth of opportunities despite the challenges that come with it. From the booming tourism industry to favourable tax laws and stable governance, the investment potential of this island paradise is undeniable. 

With the support of seasoned realtors at ERA Dupuch Real Estate, you'll be equipped to seize the potential of investing in the Bahamas real estate while mitigating challenges.

Posted by Helen Dupuch on
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