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Buyers Guide

We take the buying process as seriously as our buyers do, therefore we offer nothing but the highest quality of service to our clients. When you decide to purchase your home, make sure you hire someone whom you can trust and someone who wants to earn your business. Buying your home is one of the most important purchases you will make, so make sure you have the right agent who can provide you with the experience and the service you deserve.

When you understand current market conditions, you are better able to position yourself as a Seller. It helps to know if you are in a Seller's, Buyer's or Balanced market when setting your asking price. In a Buyer's market there is a lot more competition and Buyers have plenty of choices and room to negotiate, forcing you to be very competitive when setting your price.

Here is some important information when considering buying in The Bahamas:

Government

The Constitution of The Bahamas is based on the Westminster Model; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Executive Branch, The Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch.

As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations The Bahamas recognizes Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. The Governor-General is Her Majesty's representative in The Bahamas and constitutes a symbol of the nation's unity.

The Cabinet constitutes the executive branch and has general direction and control of the Government of The Bahamas. It is necessary for the Cabinet to comprise at least nine Ministers inclusive of the Prime Minister and Attorney General.

Parliament constitutes the Legislative branch of The Bahamas, which consist of a Senate and a House of Assembly. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Bahamas.

Judicial Authority is vested in the Judicature which comprises the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal with such jurisdiction, powers and authority as may be conferred on these Courts respectively by the Constitution or any other law.is the single most important step. By asking you a series of questions I will establish what you are looking for. My goal is to not waste your time by looking at properties that are not in your price range or homes that don't meet your needs. Throughout the buying process I will maintain your confidentiality and represent your best interests.

Investment Policy

Freedom from Taxation One of the most attractive elements of investing in The Bahamas is the tax-free status accorded to income. There are no taxes levied on capital gains, corporate earnings, personal income, sales, inheritance, or dividends. This tax freedom is available to all resident corporations, partnerships, individuals and trusts.

Economic and Monetary Stability Investors are also attracted to the stability of the economy, which is steadied by the solid value of the Bahamian dollar. This currency is pegged to the US dollar on a 1:1 ratio. US dollars and Bahamian dollars are used interchangeably throughout the island chain.

A Wealth of Investment Incentives The inducement of a tax-free environment and a stable currency are enhanced by a series of investment incentives that provide relief from customs duties on approved raw materials, equipment, and building supplies, as well as allowing exemptions from business licenses and real property taxes for up to 20 years.

The Industries Encouragement Act exempts exporters from import duties on raw materials and equipment and business license fees. This act is of particular benefit for manufacturers

The Export Manufacturing Industries Encouragement Act provides an approved manufacturer who intends to export or annually exports at least 95% of the total approved products produced by the manufacturer is afforded duty-free import of raw materials, equipment and building supplies used in the manufacture of the product or facilities for the same and duty-free export of those products.

The Agricultural Manufactories Act provides subsidies to agricultural businesses in the form of interest-free loans for the purchase of supplies and exemption from duties on a wide range of products, including building suppliers, processing materials and farm trucks. It also provides exemption from export taxes.

Freeport gives businesses in the free trade zone exemption from taxes on profits, capital gains, inheritance, income, earnings, distributions, gifts, or on imported and exported goods. In addition, import duties and taxes on real estate have been waived through August 3, 2015.

The Tariff Act provides exemptions to approved manufacturers for the import of capital equipment and raw material for garment manufacturing, food processing, the production of handicraft and souvenir items, and cottage industries.

The Spirit and Beer Manufacture Act provides duty-free import of raw material and equipment for spirits and beer manufacturers. No Exchange Controls/Free Repatriation of Profits In accordance with terms of the International Monetary Fund Agreement, The Bahamas has no restriction on current account transactions. Additionally, there are no restrictions on the free repatriation of profits. Exchange control is administered by The Central Bank. The Bank, however, delegates to its authorized dealers the power to approve allocations of foreign exchange for certain payments.

Accessible International Financing The Bahamas is associated with several organizations that ease access to financing and provide important safeguards for investors. The US Government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), for example, makes direct financing and loan guarantees available to foreign investors. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency is a World Bank unit and parent of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Convention, which provides protections similar to those of OPIC. The Bahamas also recently agreed to become a party to the convention on the settlement of investment disputes.

Facilitated Incorporation and Registration The International Business Companies Act of 1989 and the Companies Act of 1992 have made it easier than ever before to establish a commercial presence in The Bahamas.

Flexible Immigration Policy Necessary work permits for key personnel are readily granted. Businesses requiring work permits for other than key personnel are encouraged to advise The Bahamas Investment Authority of their needs at an early stage in their discussions.

Accelerated consideration for annual or permanent residence is given to major investors and to owners of residences valued in excess of $500,000. All international persons owning residences in The Bahamas are eligible to receive, upon application to the Director of Immigration, a "Home Owners Card." The card does not provide residency status for tax purposes; however, it facilitates entry into The Bahamas and entitled the owner, his/her spouse and minor children to enter and remain in The Bahamas for the duration of the validity of the card.

Banking & Finance

The Bahamas prides itself on being one of the leading offshore jurisdictions in which to do business. Offshore banking and finance account for 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Banking, private banking, setting up International Business Companies, establishing trusts and investing in mutual funds and other offshore vehicles can be established via a bank, legal council, an investment group or an accountant.

The following are some banks that may offer services for your needs:

BANK OF THE BAHAMAS, LTD. P.O. BOX N-7118 Nassau, BahamasTel:(242)326-2560 Fax:(242)325-2762 FIRST CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL BANK P.O. BOX N-8350 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242)322-4921 BRITISH-AMERICAN BANK P.O. BOX N-7502 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242)327-5170 Fax:(242)327-5166 CITIBANK BAHAMAS Tel.:(242)322-4240 Fax:(242)323-3088 COMMONWEALTH BANK P.O. BOX SS-6263 Nassau, Bahamas Tel.:(242)328-1854 ROYAL BANK OF CANADA P.O. BOX N-7537 Nassau, Bahamas Tel:(242)322-8700 Fax:(242)322-6381

IBC's

An IBC is a company with legal domicile in The Bahamas carrying on business with persons and corporate entities outside The Bahamas.

Some Advantages of IBC's :

One day incorporation possible, simple statutory documents and reasonable fees Minimal periodic reporting No minimum or maximum capital requirements Share Par value in any currency Multiple share classes, fractions Directors may reside anywhere Corporate directors acceptable Corporate Officers acceptable May act as settlor or contributor to a trust or act as founder of a private foundation No corporate income tax No personal income tax No information sharing Stockholders are not public record No tax on corporate shares Nominal annual fees An IBC may be incorporated in The Bahamas within 24 hours from the time the proper documents arrive at the Registrar General's Department. The documents must include a bank reference indicating that the individual has been a client in good standing for at least three years and confirming the beneficial owner's address and signature; a character reference; confirmation of permanent address by notary public; and two positive identification pieces verified by a notary, legal counsel or financial institution. Once approved, incorporation documents must be submitted, including the memorandum of association and the articles of association. Fees for registration are $250 if the authorized capital is less than $50,000 and $1,000 when authorized capital exceeds $50,000.

Residency & Permits

To ensure the maximum benefit to The Bahamas from the National Investment Policy, certain immigration provisions will apply :

Work Permits: Necessary work permits for key personnel will be granted. Businesses requiring permits for persons other than key personnel are encouraged to discuss these requests with the Bahamas Investment Authority in advance.

International Owners of Second Homes: Overseas Investors may acquire residential properties in The Bahamas of up to five acres without prior Government approval. Such acquisitions are required to be registered in accordance with the International Persons Landholding Act. Second Home Owners are eligible for a Home Owners Residence Card, renewable annually. This card will:

facilitate entry into The Bahamas, entitle the owner, his spouse and minor children to enter and remain in The Bahamas for the duration of the validity of the card. Application may be made to the Director of Immigration.

Annual or Permanent Residence: Accelerated consideration of applications for annual or permanent residence will be given to: major international investors; and fit and proper owners or residence valued at $500,000 or more.

Areas Especially Targeted for Overseas Investors:

Touristic Resorts Upscale Condominium, Time share and Second Home Development International Business Centre Marinas Information and Data Processing Services Assembly Industries High-Tech Service Ship Registration, Repair and other services Light Manufacturing for export Agro-Industries Food Processing Mariculture Banking and other Financial Services Captive Insurance Aircraft Services Pharmaceutical manufacture

Off-shore Medical Centres NB. This list is not exhaustive and investors interested in areas not included above are encouraged to bring their interest to the attention of BIA.

Local Partners in Joint Ventures: International investors are encouraged to establish joint ventures with Bahamian partners. The choice of such Bahamian partners is in the absolute discretion of the investor.

Access to credit facilities of the Bahamas Development Bank: The Bahamas Development Bank was created to assist Bahamians in establishing new businesses or expanding existing concerns through the provision of concessionary funding and technical assistance, for projects which generate jobs and which contribute to the economic growth and development of The Bahamas.

Joint ventures between international investors and Bahamians are eligible to access funding from BDB. However, the equity of the overseas investor may not be borrowed from the BDB or from the domestic capital market. Bahamians may, however, borrow a percentage of their contribution from BDB or the domestic capital market. An established joint-venture is not debarred from accessing BDB funds.

Areas reserved for Bahamians:

Wholesale and Retail Operations; Commission agencies engaged in the import/export/trade; Real estate and domestic property management agencies; Domestic advertising and public relations firms; Nightclubs and restaurants, except specialty, gourmet and ethnic restaurants; restaurants operating in a hotel, resort complex or tourist attraction; Security services; Domestic distribution of building supplies; Construction companies, except for special structures for which international expertise is required; Personal cosmetic/beauty establishment; Shallow water scale-fish, crustacea, mollusks and sponge-fishing operations; Auto and appliance service operations and Public transportation.

International Investors may engage in the wholesale distribution of any product they produce locally. A permanent resident may purchase land without a permit but must also register the purchase on acquisition as above.

No permit is required by a non-Bahamian if land or an interest in land is acquired by reason of device or inheritance but the acquisition must also be registered.

A non-Bahamian (other than a permanent resident or non-Bahamian acquiring land or an interest in land under a devise or inheritance) who wishes to acquire five or more contiguous acres of land in The Bahamas must apply for a permit from the Board on the requisite form stating the intended use for the land. Otherwise any such acquisition shall be null and void in the absence of such permit.

The Act exempts banks and trust companies and insurance companies who acquire interests in land under a mortgage from the requirement to obtain a permit.

The Act exempts banks and trust companies and insurance companies who acquire interests in land under a mortgage from the requirement to obtain a permit. Again, the acquisition need only be registered. The Act provides that certain business leases be registered with the Board where the lease is for 21 years or more. Otherwise, the lease is defective.

The Act provides that the stamp duty payable by a non-Bahamian is the same as in the case of a Bahamian. The Act also enables a non-Bahamian who owns and maintains a home in The Bahamas to obtain an annual home owner resident card upon application to the Director of Immigration and payment of the specified fee in the Schedule. This card shall entitle the applicant, his spouse and minor children (if any) to enter and remain in The Bahamas for the duration of the card unless their entry is otherwise barred under the Immigration laws.

International Buyers

The Bahamian government in 1993 repealed the Immovable Property (Acquisition By Foreign Persons) Act, which required foreigners to obtain approval from the National Economic Council to purchase real property in the country, and replaced it with the International Persons Landholding Act. Under the new law, approval is granted automatically for non-Bahamians to purchase residential property of less than five acres on any single island in The Bahamas, except where the property constitutes over fifty percent of the land area of a cay (small island) or involves ownership of an airport or marina. The new law also provides for a two-year real property tax exemption for foreign persons acquiring undeveloped land in The Bahamas for development purposes, provided that substantial development occurs during those two years.

Property Fees & Taxes

The Government Stamp Tax on Property Conveyances A graduated tax is payable on the conveyance of all real property in The Bahamas based on the value as follows:

Up to and including $20,000 - 4% From $20,000.01 to $50,000 - 6% From $50,000.01 to $100,000 - 8% Over $100,000.00- 10%

The usual practice in the Bahamas is for the tax to be shared equally between buyer and seller unless otherwise agreed upon.

Real Property Tax The statutes provide for a general assessment of real property by the Chief Valuation Officer of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. This applies to Bahamians and non-Bahamians owning real property in The Bahamas not exempt from taxation as indicated in "Remarks". "Bahamian" is defined as a citizen of The Bahamas or as a company registered under The Companies Act in which at least 60% of the shares are owned beneficially by Bahamians. The returns are due on or before December 31 each year and must be filed with The Chief Valuation Officer of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Owners are required to file a

Declaration of Real Property. The return must be signed by the owner and witnessed by an "authorized person", defined as a magistrate, attorney, registered medical practitioner, bank officer, minister of religion, justice of the peace or notary public within The Bahamas or similar person outside the Commonwealth. Such forms may be obtained from the Chief Valuation Officer. Property is assessed before October 15. The Chief Valuation Officer may, if it appears that any property subject to assessment has not been assessed, within the next 10 years, assess the property. The Chief Valuation Officer is also required to publish before October 15, (once in The Gazette and once in a daily newspaper published and circulated in The Bahamas), a notice, stating:

Copies of the assessment lists are available to the public at the Treasury and office of the Chief Valuation Officer;

Assessment notices for each owner of property liable to tax are available at places specified in the notice;

Five days after the notice's publication, a notice of assessment is deemed served on every owner of property subject to tax;

A notice of assessment may be sent by mail to any owner of property by the Chief Valuation Officer after publication in The Gazette;

Any other matters which the Chief Valuation Officer, with the Minister's approval, deems necessary. Objection to a notice of assessment must be made in writing to the Chief Valuation Officer, within 30 days of service of the notice, stating grounds upon which the objection is made. The Chief Valuation Officer may request that the tax levied be paid in whole or in part at the time of objection.

Taxes are due within 60 days of the date on which the assessment notice is deemed to have been served. Also, payment of one or more quarterly installments must be made within those 60 days. These payments should be made to the Public Treasury in Bahamian or US dollars, preferably as a bank draft or international postal order. Personal cheques are not acceptable.

Rates of Taxes Effective from January 1, 1994, the rates of tax on real property are as follows:

In respect of owner-occupied property: The first $100,000 is tax exempt.

On that portion in excess of $100,000 and less than $500,000 the rate of tax is 1% of the market value of the property;

On the portion in excess of $500,000 the tax rate is 1.5% of the market value of the property. In respect of unimproved property other than unimproved property exempt by virtue of Section 39 of the Real Property Tax Act:

Upon that part of the market value that does not exceed $3,000 a fee of $30.00.

Upon that part of the market value which exceeds $3,000 but does not exceed $100,000 a tax rate of 1% per annum of the market value of the property. In respect of any other property:

Upon that part of the market value that does not exceed $500,000 a tax at the rate of 1% per annum of the market value;

Upon that part of the market value in excess of $500,000 a tax at the rate of 2% of the market value of the property. "Market Value is defined as the amount the property would realize, if sold in the open market, without any encumbrances or restrictions. If the return is not filed, the owner is guilty of an offense, and upon conviction thereof, may be fined up to $3,000. Persons knowingly making false statements may be liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $3,000 or six months imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment. If the tax is not paid on or before the last day the tax becomes due, a 10% surcharge is added.

In the case of an extension of time, the Chief Valuation Officer may postpone the date on which the tax is payable in a particular case, by notice in writing.

Exemptions Property owned by Bahamians and situated in the Family Islands is exempt from property tax. Property approved as commercial farm land (by the Ministers of Agriculture, Trade and Industry and Finance) is eligible for property tax exemptions.

Also exempt from property tax are:

Unimproved property owned by Bahamians, meaning property without physical additions or alterations, or any works benefitting the land which have not increased the market value thereof by $5,000 or more;

Places of religious worship; school buildings and their gardens and playing areas;

Property owned by foreign governments;

Property owned by foreign nations used for consular offices or residences of consular officials and employees;

Property used exclusively for charitable or public service from which no profit is derived. To find out more about the fees and taxes on your property, please contact one of our brokers.

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