The outstanding natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle and rich culture of the British Virgin Islands should be enough to make any sane person happy to call our islands home. But how feasible is it to own property in the BVI and does it make sense from a personal and economic perspective?
The Only Way is Up!
Property prices have been rising steadily in the BVI for the past few years and are predicted to continue to do so. They still compare favourably to some of our Caribbean neighbours making BVI property great value and placing the BVI at the top of your list for islands in which to invest.
One of the Caribbean’s Most Stable and Prosperous Economies
With its twin pillars of tourism and financial services, the BVI economy is highly stable and one of the strongest in the Caribbean. The result is full employment and virtually no crime. Take comfort also in the fact that English Law is the basis of our legal system and the US dollar as our currency.
Controlled and Planned Development
In bygone times, many hundreds of years ago, marauding pirates would bury their treasure around our islands. Today, it is the idyllic islands themselves that are considered the true treasure. And like any valuable and scarce property, the owners are concerned that it is protected and looked after for future generations. To date, the Government (the BVI is a Self Governing Territory of the United Kingdom with its own elected Government and a British Governor chairing the Executive Council) and the people of the BVI have done an excellent job of ensuring the islands are not overdeveloped or ruined by careless construction, wild speculation and poor planning. Having developed relatively recently compared to some of our larger neighbours in the Caribbean, we have had the advantage of learning from them, adopting what has worked and discarding what hasn’t. There are no casinos, all-inclusive hotels or high rise apartments…just intimate hideaways, luxurious private villas and glorious anchorages.
Several very high end, exclusive Resort Residential developments are currently under construction or have been approved. Little Dix Bay Resort and Scrub Island, for example, are currently offering for Sale Villas and home sites pitched at the higher end of the market, significantly raising the bar for BVI property values in general
Efficient Ownership Structures
You can purchase property individually, in joint names or in the name of a company. Your BVI lawyer will be able to advise you on the best form of ownership to suit your requirements. Most land in the BVI is owned in fee simple. A purchaser will normally acquire absolute title which is registered in the BVI Government Land Registry. Property in the BVI may also be held on long lease from the Crown or private individuals. The lease term is normally 99 years or the unexpired term in the case of an assignment of a lease.
Attractive Tax Structure
Stamp Duty at the rate of 12% of the price or appraised value is payable by the purchaser at completion on fee simple property. The rate is 1 1/2% on Leasehold property. Land Tax is currently $50.00 per annum for property under a half of an acre. $150.00 is charged for the first half an acre to one acre and $50.00 for any additional acreage thereafter. Annual House Tax is charged at 1˝% of the assessed annual rental value. In practice, taxes for an average three bedroom home will typically be less than a few hundred dollars a year. There is no capital gains or inheritance tax in the BVI.
Competitive Insurance Rates
All perils home insurance, including hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, is readily available in the BVI and rates are once again relatively reasonable, largely due again to our strong economy, high standards of construction and a low incidence of insurance fraud. They are very unlikely to be a deterrent to purchasing.