Purchasing land in the BVI will be a wonderful experience; in the end, you will be the owner of a piece of our beautiful territory. There are many considerations to keep in mind as you go through this process. There are myriad factors, that if not properly considered, can waste your time and money. This guide will outline the basic steps that a first-timer should consider when purchasing land.
Step 1. Have Money for the Down Payment
Having funds for the down payment may seem obvious. However, it is worth mentioning that before you start on the adventure of viewing property, you should have money in the bank, along with good credit. Experience has shown that having access to $6000 – $10,000 should put you in a good starting position. It is also a good idea to be pre-approved by your bank. This pre-approval lets you know your borrowing ceiling.
Step 2. Locate the Perfect Property
The second step is to venture out and locate your dream property. The two most popular searches for property involves real estate agents and properties for sale by owners.
Real Estate Agents
A real estate agent is helpful as he or she normally has access to a large inventory of properties for sale.
You should note that if you search for property with an agent, the sales commission will be reflected in the price. So, the commission effectively makes the asking price of the land a bit higher than if you had searched without an agent.
The Realtor may also recommend a lawyer to you based on the complexity of the transaction
For Sale By Owner
Another option when purchasing land is interacting directly with the property owner. As in any other business, cash is king. If you have cash and are ready to close on a deal, you can often negotiate the asking price with the owner.
Step 3. The offer
An initial offer for a BVI property is usually made through the realtor and comes in the form of a Letter of Intent. A letter of Intent should provide for the necessary basics, such as the timeframe to settle the contract, the conditions on which either party can withdraw from the deal, and whether the Letter of Intent is binding, or if it is non-binding and subject to contract.
Step 4. Sales Agreement
After signing your Letter of Intent, you then will enter into a sales agreement with the seller or the seller’s agent. This sales agreement will set out the conditions upon which the property will be sold.
Conditions addressed will include:
- Due Diligence
- Approval of Non-Belongers Land Holders Licence
- Funding of Purchase
There are various factors that a purchaser has to consider and steps to be completed as part of due diligence. Those factors include:
Register of Title
The Register of Titles provides the legal description of the property that you are buying. This document tells you the name of the owner(s) and the liens, covenants, and encumbrances that are associated with the property.
Boundary and Property Survey
It is necessary to obtain a survey sheet detailing the property shape and its physical location. You should make it a priority to walk the land and have the boundaries pointed out to you. It is usually the seller’s responsibility to identify the boundaries to the buyer.
In addition to boundary points, you will need to ascertain whether the land has proper road access. The road you used to access the property may not necessarily be the legal right of way.
It is highly recommended that you have an architect visit the site; don’t allow your architect to rely solely on survey drawings. The role of the architect would be to advise you as you ensure that the property is of adequate size and shape to accommodate the home you plan to build. The architect can also advise on whether you will require a retaining wall, and if you will have ghut issues based on the location of the property.
Structural Survey and Termite Inspection
If your purchase is a house, apartment building, or condominium, etc you will want to carry out additional inspections. These are structural and termite.
- A structural survey will examine your foundation, your walls, your wiring, and your roofing for signs of weakness in the building and give you recommendations.
- A termite inspection inspects your property for termites and other things such as ants and rats that can destroy the property.
Defects in title, boundaries, or other matters
After carrying out your due diligence as a buyer you may discover that there are some issues with the property, we call these issues defects.
If any defect in title arises, there may be more than one option to resolve it.
The same is true of boundaries and other matters subject to inspection, such as the physical and structural surveys. Often, issues are resolved by creating new legal incidents such as easements or licences.
Your lawyer will be able to provide advice on your options in these matters, including your rights under the Sales Agreement.
Time Frame for Inspection
The Sales Agreement will also contain a timeframe for the purchaser to carry out the various inspections and the time frame for the seller to fix any defects identified.
Approval of Non-Belonger Land Holding Licence
If you are not a BVI Belonger, you will be required to apply for a Non-Belonger Land Holding Licence (NBLH). This licence application is processed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and, ultimately, it is signed by the Governor.
If you are applying for an NBLH, there will be a clause in the sales agreement stating that the sale is subject to the granting of the NBLH.
The Non-Belonger Landholding Licence process will ask for the following:
- your regular personal identification information
- cost of the property
- proposed building plans
- 1-year bank statements
- Personal references
- Professional references
- Police certificate
- Appraisal report
- Sales and purchase agreement
- Passport size photos
Step 5. Funding of the Purchase
At the same time as you are carrying out due diligence, your funding should be organized. If you are applying for bank financing, your application should be in the approval process. The bank will require, in addition to your personal finance documents, a copy of the signed sales agreement and a copy of the recent appraisal of the property. Your loan request may also cover your closing fees and stamp duty fees.
Step 6. Completion Documents
If all your due diligence checks out favorably, you have received your NBLHL and you have been approved for funding, you are ready to sign your completion documents which will qualify you as a BVI landowner.
Your completion documents include your bank check, to be given to the seller, and a transfer form in triplicate, in which the seller (as transferor) transfers the property to you, in the presence of witnesses and a notary public. Additionally, you will sign this document as transferee, in the presence of witnesses and a notary public. It is
normal for the same witnesses and the notary public to witness and notarize for both transferor and transferee.
The closing in addition to the exchange of funds will involve the discharge of mortgages and other liens, as well as the placement of new ones. The transfer of utilities and other services are also handled at closing and the apportionment of taxes and other outgoings in relation to the property.
You are not required to be physically present in the BVI for closing, Your lawyer or your agent can attend to post-completion matters such as the payment of stamp duty and registration of the title documents and obtaining certified copies of these post-registrations.
Our office can assist you with the sale or purchase of property in the BVI. For more information contact us at 1284 494 8658 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.