Find Property and Real Estate expertise in Jamaica
The property market in Jamaica has subdued since 2008. Independent observers identify security concerns as one of the key factors. However, the overall growth of the property and real estate market in Jamaica has been consistent. Figures from Jamaica-real-estate.net indicate that between 1998 and 2008, property prices rose by more than 40%.
The mortgage market in Jamaica operates on prudent principles and loans are not easily obtained because of the high level of collateral required. The international credit crisis that struck in 2008, combined with Jamaica’s high debt-to-GDP ratio, exacerbated existing limitations with regards to accessing external funding from international capital markets.
The government offers various levels of incentives for investments, based on the size of the development. A hotel with over 350 rooms is entitled to duty free importation of items needed in the construction of the hotel, as well as a 15-year period of non-taxation; details are set out in the Hotel Incentive Act.
The World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index (2011), ranks Jamaica 105th out of 185 countries for registering property. The World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report (2012-2013) gives Jamaica a moderate score of 4.2 out of 7 for property rights (including financial assets), just below the world average of 4.3. This indicates that property rights in the country are fairly good and puts Jamaica in 72nd place out of 144 countries worldwide.
Foreign ownership of property has no restriction in Jamaica and is being promoted as a good place to buy property in the Caribbean given its thriving tourism industry. Purchases of real estate generally involve the services of an attorney-at-law who protects the buyer’s interests and secures the terms on which the property is bought.
Important bodies in the Jamaican real estate sector are the Realtors Association of Jamaica (RAJ), the Real Estate Board and the Jamaican Redevelopment Foundation Inc. (JRF).
RAJ is a statutory body which acts as a regulator for the sector whose members include real estate professionals all of whom hold dealers or salesman licences issued by the Real Estate Board which issues licences for real estate dealers and salesmen and recommends real estate courses at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
RAJ is an affiliate member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) USA.
JRF aims to redevelop the Jamaican finance and property sector; it bought up a large portfolio of distressed debt sold by the Jamaican government.
Tenancy rights are outlined in the Rent Restriction Act which tries to ensure fair treatment and charges for tenants. Any actions contravening this legislation are first referred to the Rent Assessment Board. The Real Estate (Dealers and Developers) Act was issued by the Ministry of Justice.