Antigua real estate: An expert guide

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Second home. Everyone dreams about it. But, the reality of property hunt can be frustrating with its endless regulations. Is it the same in case of Antigua real estate and housing? You bet! But, when it comes to renting or looking for houses for sale in Antigua, we know how to make matters simple.

What is Citizenship by Investment (CIP) and how you can acquire it quickly

You might already be an experienced real estate investor. If that’s the case, you’ll have an easier time navigating the property landscape of Antigua and Barbuda. But, it also means you’ll also know each real estate market is slightly different—there are always important local quirks to bear in mind.

This article will explain everything you need to consider when looking for houses for sale in Antigua and Barbuda. Real estate experts at Relocate Antigua remain at your disposal if you have any more questions.

Citizenship by investment is one of the simpler ways to obtain a second citizenship without lengthy bureaucratic process and disruptions to your schedule. (Especially if you consult with experienced professionals to make it an easy and frictionless process!). In this article we’ll introduce the concept of Citizenship by Investment Programs. We’ll explore why they can be a desirable solution, who can benefit from it the most, and we’ll list top Citizenship by Investment programs.

Citizenship by Investment in Antigua real estate

One of the ways to qualify for Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) in Antigua and Barbuda is through investing in real estate. Let’s walk you through the basics of the program.

To qualify for CIP under the real estate option you need to invest at least USD 400,000 in officially approved real estate. Note that since the process involves buying real estate, it can take longer to complete it than if you just invest in the National Development Fund.

Conditions to consider regarding real estate as a part of CIP:

  • You can’t resell the real estate for five years after purchase, unless you acquire another (officially approved) property in Antigua and Barbuda.
  • You can only invest in officially approved real estate.
  • You can also establish a beneficial ownership of real estate through a non-profit company operating under the laws of Antigua and Barbuda. There are several more conditions to fulfill for this transaction to be valid which you can read about here.
  • The process of acquiring Citizenship by Investment in real estate is similar to the regular CIP program in that it needs to be conducted by an authorized agent.

Costs of CIP through Antigua real estate

In terms of costs, on top of the investment itself you’ll be required to pay two types of fees.

  • Government processing fees:
    • USD 50,000 for an individual, or a family of up to four people
    • + USD 15,000 for each extra dependent

  • Due diligence fees:
    • USD 7,500 for an individual
    • USD 7,500 for a spouse
    • USD 2,000 for each dependent between 12 and 17
    • USD 4,000 for each dependent over the age of 18

Just like in regular CIP there is also a USD 300 fee for the issuance of each passport.

It used to be an option to make a joint investment, where two applicants would split the investment cost, each contributing a minimum of USD 200,000. This option was only available until October 31, 2018, but you might see it referred to in other resources.

CIP with real estate investment: Step by step process.

After you have investigated available houses for sale in Antigua and settled for a project you want to invest in, you need to:

  • Sign a purchase and sale agreement with the developer.
  • Then you can fill in all the required documents and submit them via your authorized agent to the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU).
  • Upon submission you’ll pay:
    • 10% of the government processing fees, and
    • All due diligence fees
  • After the CIU processes your application you’ll be issued a letter of approval.
  • You’ll then pay the rest of the government processing fee and make the payment to the developer under the sale and purchase agreement.
  • The title of the property will be registered in your name which will allow for implementation of the real estate investment. You’ll receive a certificate of registration.
  • Your agent will need to submit the certificate to the passport office along with other documentation.
  • After everything is processed, you can collect your passport and take an oath of allegiance in Antigua and Barbuda or in the nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consular Office.

antigua-map-relocate antigua

Here is a map with government approved areas, issued by the CIU unit.

Antigua housing areas: Where to settle?

It hard to choose an area to live in a new country. At Relocate Antigua we know from experience that each client has their own requirements for an optimal location.

Many of our clients the search for houses for sale in Antigua in locations vetted by earlier arrivals. It’s natural that as a newcomer you want to stay around people with a similar lifestyle to yours. Most popular expat areas are centered around:

  • Around Falmouth and English Harbor
  • In and around Jolly Harbor and Fryes Beach
  • At Half Moon Bay and Browns Bay
  • Cedar Valley, Hodges Bay and Galley Bay, and surrounding areas

Houses for sale in Antigua with CIP

As mentioned before you can only invest in officially approved real estate projects. The official updated list of those is available on the CIU website.

The projects are located in areas approved by the government. Most houses for sale in Antigua and Barbuda are located on the island of Antigua, and Barbuda is home to only two out of 11 approved areas (Low Bay to Palmetto and Coco Point, and Coco Point).

If you’re new to the real estate market of Antigua and Barbuda is can be hard to pick which projects to invest in. At Relocate Antigua we are well-versed in the local property market and will be happy to guide you through it when you need assistance.

Prices of houses for sale in Antigua and Barbuda

It’s hard to find reliable average prices for houses in Antigua and Barbuda. There is no public central repository of property data to enable easy comparison and assessment of asking prices. It is therefore hard to evaluate whether the asking price is reasonable.

The 2013 research by The Global Property Guide lists average prices of two-bedroom houses to be around USD 350,000 and those of houses of three and more bedrooms to be around USD 600,000.

Looking at the prices of featured properties in the April-June 2019 editions of the AntiguaNice Real Estate Insider prices range from as low as USD 175,000 for a two-bedroom waterfront villa, to USD 2.995 million for four-bedroom and three-bathroom beach villa.

Many of our clients want to find cheap houses for sale in Antigua. The best way to do it is to monitor the local real estate market. It might be a good idea to reach out to a few local real estate agents and ask to keep you informed when properties with your requirements become available on the market.

Associated costs

There are many costs associated with buying, selling, and renting a property. So, even if you found cheap houses for sale in Antigua, the final amount you’ll be due to pay might be higher than initially anticipated.

Here is a breakdown of the costs you should bear in mind when deciding to buy in Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua real estate tax

In terms of taxes on real estate, both individuals and corporations are subject to the same tax rates.

  • Property tax is assessed based on the market value of the property and ranges from 0.1% to 0.5% depending on the property’s use.
  • If you own underdeveloped land as a nonresident you’ll be subject to nonresident underdeveloped land tax, between 5% and 20%. It’s calculated based on the land value and depends on how long the property has been owned.

Stamp duty tax

  • As a buyer of real estate in Antigua and Barbuda you’ll need to pay5% of stamp duty tax, a better rate than the seller who pays 7.5%. The latter is an important figure to bear in mind if you have resell plans.
  • There is also 5% stamp duty for the seller on the sale of shares, and 2.5% for the shares’ purchaser.
  • Nonresident buyers will need to acquire an alien landholding license (ALHL)—an extra cost of 5% of the value of the property, and pay a stamp duty tax of 2.5%. You’ll be mitigating this cost if you get a residency or citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda.

Real Estate antigua barbuda

Antigua real estate commission

As with any real estate transaction, if you use a service of a real estate agent you’ll need to pay a commission calculated in the percentage of the transaction value. Involving accountants or tax advisors will also increase the transaction costs. Real estate commission is usually negotiable, but you can expect rates of 5-7%.

Registration and land fees

Other fees you will be expected to pay is the legal fee of 1-2% of transaction value. There is also a small ECD20 registration fee and the ECD50 land certificate fee. The Global Property Guide quotes these fees to be USD 7.41 and USD 18.52 respectively and notes that these registration costs are sometimes included in the legal fee payment.

It can be confusing to navigate the landscape of property fees, even for real estate experts! Thankfully you can consult with Relocate Antigua experts who’ve helped many before you settle in Antigua.

Total fees?

Altogether, including the real estate agent commission (5-7%), the transaction costs will amount to approximately 21% to 24% of the property value.

Additional notes:

  • If you purchase a property for nonresidential use, you’ll also be subject to the 15% ABST (Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax).
  • Sometimes the stamp duty tax and the cost of AHLH will be lower if you’re the first buyer of the property.
  • Average rental yields in 2013 stood at 4% according to the Global Property Guide.

Maintenance costs

Before making a decision to buy a property consider the maintenance costs you might incur. Most of Antigua’s houses are freehold, therefore, if you’re not using the property for the whole year yourself, you might need to invest in an agency to help you maintain it.

Houses for rent in Antigua and Barbuda

Even if you’ve decided to relocate to Antigua and Barbuda or have opted for second citizenship in the country, you might choose to rent rather than buy property on the island.

There are many apartments and houses for rent in Antigua. Rental rates typically differ depending on the season—for example, at the time of Christmas Holiday Season or the Sailing Week in April/May rates can be much higher.

When renting a property you can again use a service of a real estate agent, or rent directly from the owner. When choosing a property to rent, make sure you’re clear about all the costs and when the payments are due.

Here is a checklist of things you might want to ask about:

  • Weekly vs. monthly pricing. If you’re considering a longer stay, typically a monthly pricing will provide a higher return on investment.
  • If the costs include maintenance (e.g. cleaning, gardening)
  • If the costs include utilities, taxes, and other potential fees.
  • Value of the deposit required, and when it is payable.
  • Value of the security deposit.
  • Cancellation period for your reservation.

This article probably captured your imagination about a future retreat on the sunny beaches of Antigua and Barbuda. Whether you’re looking for houses for sale in Antigua or for holiday rental, at Relocate Antigua we’ve got you covered.

It’s normal that the closer you get to the decision the more questions you’ll have. Book a consultation today to turn your plans into reality.

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