The three islands which comprise the Cayman Islands have a total land area of 100 square miles, 76 of which make up the capital island, Grand Cayman. The most intensive development so far has taken place on Grand Cayman and in particular in George Town, in the residential area to the south of the capital, and to the north, along the Seven Mile Beach peninsula, where the emphasis has been on tourism-related development such as hotels, condominium complexes, shops and restaurants.
Concentration on this attractive area between George Town and the second most populated area, West Bay, contrasts with the fairly sparse development between the other districts – Bodden Town (including Savannah and Breakers), East End and North Side. In recent years, however, developers have begun to see the advantage of sites in the eastern and northern parts of Grand Cayman. Factors in this trend are the lower real estate prices in those areas, as well as availability of good roads, electricity and telephone & internet connections.
The fact that the growth of the economy of Cayman Brac has lagged behind that of Grand Cayman has slowed the pace of development there. The third island, Little Cayman, remains comparatively undeveloped. As with the more remote parts of Grand Cayman, however, the two Sister Islands may be regarded as having the potential to become highly viable as their infrastructure develops.
Most land in the islands is in private ownership. An advantage to purchasers is that as a result of a Cadastral survey done in the 1970’s every piece of land is registered. This give an assurance of authentic title with none of the doubt encountered in some other countries. The Land Registry is efficiently run and, once a price has been agreed, land purchase is relatively simple.
Availability of the registry to public inspection means that a potential purchaser can examine the records of any parcel of land and see if there are charges or other restrictions upon it. In Grand Cayman, there are considerable areas of swampland, some of it difficult to access, although some areas like this have been successfully filled and developed. This process is continuing most notably in the western peninsula of Grand Cayman, subject to regard for ecological concerns.
Potential developers, whether of business or residential property, start with the following advantages:
- An active real estate market, with many real estate agents and local media advertising setting out the properties currently available.
- Legal services readily available for arranging purchase.
- A modern land registry system, making transfers simple, quick and safe, backed by a government guarantee.
- Good architects, land surveyors, quantity surveyors, and building contractors permanently resident in the colony.
- A well-developed infrastructure of ports and airports, asphalted main roads, schools, hospitals, water, electricity, telephone, cellular and internet.
- Ready-mixed concrete available for delivery to site, several builders’ merchants based in the Islands, and regular shipping links with the United States.
- Relatively quick construction time, with finishing generally to high standards.
- Complete absence of restrictions upon foreign ownership of land, in contrast to some other Caribbean territories.
- No property tax on developed or undeveloped land.
In calculating the cost of their investment in real estate in Cayman, purchasers must make allowance for stamp duty, payable at the rate of between 6% and 7½% on the realty value transferred. The price stated in an application for registration of a land transfer is always subject to acceptance by a government valuation officer. You may click here to download a PDF file outlining the stamp duty rates for the various areas of the island.
Commissions charged to the seller(s) of property by members of the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA), are listed below. The commission is paid to the Listing Broker Member on the gross selling price. Commission rate minimums are based on the gross listing price in the Listing Agreement. The commission structure below applies to US or CI dollars:
- Price $94,999 or under – 10%
- Price $95,000 to $494,999 – 7%
- Price $495,000 to $994,999 – 6%
- Price $995,000 to $9,994,999 – 5%
- Price $9,995,000 and over – 4%
A number of local financial institutions provide financing for real estate purchases, through a down-payment of at least a third of the purchase price is usually required and mortgages for up to 15-year terms are available. The interest rate is likely to be about 2½ percent over the New York prime. There is also a 1 percent stamp duty on mortgages.
Governmental and private sector investment has responded to, as well as stimulated, real estate development in the Islands so that it has become a significant part of the remarkable growth of the economy. The pace and scale of this activity have tended to reflect the state of the economy in the United States, where a large proportion of purchasers come from, but even when activity has slackened there has been little softening of prices. Lands transfers recorded at the end of 2011 had a total value of CI$632 million.