The naturally derived privacy found on the islands has made these the latest high-priced accessory for Hollywood celebrities. Johnny Depp, Nicholas Cage, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods all have bought into the boom.
But buyers aren’t limited to the glitterati, according to realtor/appraiser Rachel Pinder of Island Living Real Estate, an all-broker-level firm specializing in Out Island properties on such islands as Abaco, Eleuthera, Exuma, and Long Island.
Pinder sited several types of buyers contributing to the land rush. They include:
o older investors planning their retirement;
o young investors setting up bed-and-breakfasts or other enterprises;
o natives returning to their childhood homes; and
o enamored vacationers getting a jump on the major-development openings.
“Our real estate buyers aren’t just coming from the United States,” said Pinder. “We’re getting many calls from Europe and Asia. The desire to buy into a piece of paradise is the primary motivator, of course. We have many affordable properties, some of which are ripe for development. Affordability is just one side of the economic coin. Bahamian liberal real estate and immigration laws draw many buyers.
The government levies no taxes on personal income, sales, inheritance, capital gains, dividends or even corporate earnings; exemptions available to all individuals, trusts, partnerships and corporations.
Property tax rates are friendly, as well. The first $250,000 of an owner-occupied property is entirely tax exempt. Up to $500,000 the rate is just 0.75 percent, with a 1 percent rate for all properties above $500,000.
While no government approval is required for foreign investors to purchase up to five acres of residential property; larger land acquisitions must be registered and approved by the Investment Board.
The 1:1 currency exchange between the U.S. and the Bahamian dollars is hard to resist, particularly at a time when the American dollar is sinking in many other parts of the world.
Flexible immigration laws provide accelerated consideration for annual or permanent residence to everyone from major investors to owners of residences valued in excess of $500,000.
Rates for unimproved properly are equally favorable.
‘Vacant land accounts for a large portion of our sales,” said Pinder. “Still, we’re getting calls from across the board, including Bahamas condos and houses; even condo and house rentals.
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