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Housing in St Lucia


Property market in St Lucia slowed in early-2009, as the impact of the global crisis spread to this small tourism-dependent island. The slight fall in house prices was mainly caused by the drop in the value of the British pound against the US dollar, according to local real estate agents, causing demand from British home-buyers to weaken.

In the absence of official house price statistics in St Lucia, it is very difficult to know the exact movement of house prices. Some local real estate agents claim that property values have risen by about 10% to 15% annually in the past few years. The northern coast, where most residential developments are concentrated, saw the highest house price growth over the past several years.

In March 2009, property prices ranged from EC$5,940 ($2,200) to EC$9,180 ($3,400) per sq m for houses with sizes from 150 sq m to 400 sq m. Condominiums had higher prices, surprisingly, at EC$11,340 ($4,200) per sq m.

Buying a Property

Development and investment is encouraged by the government through tax incentives and exemptions. Foreign individuals (except for citizens of Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) need to procure a landholding licence to be able to acquire property freehold. The process of obtaining an Alien Land Holding Licence can take around six to eight weeks.

Certain sectors in the economy are reserved only for nationals including real estate and rental agencies for homes, villas and apartments. Likewise, the operation of guest houses of less than 10 rooms is not open to foreigners.

The procedure for buying property in St Lucia is similar to that in the United Kingdom.

Buyers are expected to pay a deposit of 10% during the contract signing, as a standard clause in St Lucia’s property sale contracts to prevent either party from being ripped off. If the buyer backs out from the transaction, the 10% deposit cannot be refunded. If the buyer’s application for an Alien Land Holding Licence is denied, the buyer can refund the 10% deposit. If in case the seller backs out, the deposit is doubled and paid back to the buyer.

It is necessary to employ the services of a lawyer in order to register the Alien Landholding Licence – a process which usually takes six to eight weeks. After the contract of sale has been signed, the lawyer will forward the licence application to the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Keep in mind that these licences are permanent, non-transferable, and property-specific. While waiting for the licence to be released, the property survey and conveyance process can begin.

After the licence has been granted, the actual transfer takes place. Any outstanding balance on the sale will be settled. The last step is to register the transfer and pay any remaining government duties.

If purchasing property is done through a company, the 10% Future Tax Liability will be taken off from the costs. It takes around six weeks to form a company and costs EC$3,200 ($1,185.18).

If the buyer purchases land only, the buyer is required by the government to develop or build on the land within two to three years from the date of purchase.

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