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Acquiring Real Estate in Jamaica

Acquiring real estate in Jamaica can be complex but more often than not, is reasonably straightforward.  

Land is sold “as is” in Jamaica and if a Registered Title is available, then there is usually no complexity.   With hundreds of real estate agents and private sales available in Jamaica, finding your dream ranch or home is just around the corner.

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Acquiring real Estate in Jamaica

Complication can occur in the case of unregistered land. What I have learned in dealing with such matters is that while in urban areas land ownership is clearly defined with a registered title, it is not necessarily so across the island. 

In rural Jamaica the majority of land ownership is unregistered having simply been passed down from generation to generation as is.  The introduction of the 1948 Registration of Titles Act made it a requirement for all parcels of land to be registered under the Act. 

The Common Law Title – Indenture/Facility Title

The Common Law Title in Jamaica is an Indenture document which sets out the names of the parties involved and the conditions of sale. 

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Government fees in the form of stamp duty and transfer tax is then payable to the Stamp Commissioner at the Tax Administration Department and the document is kept by purchaser as the proof of ownership.  See land for sale in Mandeville

Land for Sale Mandeville Jamaica

The Facility Title is another form of land ownership usually issued by a Cooperative Bank to the owner against a small loan or lien over the land. 

Neither of these Titles is accepted by high street banks as security against such lands. 

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The Registered Title - Registration of Titles Act of 1948

The Registered Title is recognised as proof of the undisputed ownership of the land and is readily accepted by all high street banks and others as security for loans etc.  It is also beneficial to prove ownership if there are disputes over the land by a third party. 

It is now normal practice that whenever an Indenture/Facility document is the proof of ownership of lands to be transferred, an application to the Registrar of Titles for first registration may be required. 

Though it can be a lengthy process, it formalises the ownership of land in accordance with the Jamaica Registration of Titles Act and results in the purchaser being issued with a Certificate of Title in accordance with the Act.. 

Land for Sale St Elizabeth

When purchasing real estate in Jamaica one of the first questions to ask is whether a registered title is available.  Transfer by registered title is straightforward and completion can be expected with a 3 month period.   See land for sale in St Elizabeth

Complications can occur when dealing with unregistered land rendering the process a long drawn out saga.  Even without complication expect the process to take up to 12 months to complete.  

Acquiring Real Estate in Jamaica - Points to Note

If no documentation at all is available to prove ownership, while it is not impossible to do, it might be better to find one that does and avoid the complications that will inevitably follow.  

A TRN (tax registration number) is required by all people wishing to do business in Jamaica.  Application for a TRN can be made while on visit to Jamaica at any Tax Office or directly on line.

A clear title is one that has no liens affecting it such as a mortgage, lien or a caveat.  For example a caveat may have been placed on the title relating to an unresolved action which involves the land.  


National Land Agency Jamaica (NLA)

The government of Jamaica has been working on ways to enable and encourage landowners to more easily obtain their registered titles and over the past 20 years many people have regularised their land ownership and now have acquired a registered title.  

On checking the stats at the National Land Agency Jamaica; at the end of 2012, their report reflected that less than one-third of Jamaica’s total land space is unregistered land.

Acquiring Real Estate in Jamaica - Registration costs

Currently government tax on the value of the property is approx 10/12%, plus processing fees which varies between 3% to 5%.  If the property is being sold via an estate agent additional fees will apply.

So if you are looking for a straightforward land transfer in Jamaica registered lands is for you. If the land you love is unregistered, prepare for a lengthy and more costly process. 

It is worth keeping in mind when looking at land in Jamaica, therefore, that a registered title is not always available.  

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