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Buying a House in Jamaica – The Process, Land Titles & NHT

If you are considering buying a house in Jamaica, you will need to know the ins and outs of what is involved. While it is not a complicated process, it is best to understand what will be required by you and the seller, and what options you have available to you.

Land Title Types

In Jamaica, there are two types of land titles. The first is a common law title, which is an ownership certificate used for land that is unregistered. It is not a full title for the land, but it can be advanced to a registered title, the second type of land title, which is both official and legal. The Registration of Titles Act states that the original title must be kept at the Office of Land and Titles, and the duplicate is given to the landowner.

Once the Agreement for Sale has been prepared, it is signed by the seller and the buyer in the presence of either the estate agent or a lawyer. Once you have both signed the agreement, the sale becomes binding and official. You will then need to pay the deposit, which is an amount of 10% – 20% of the buying price. It is quite typical that this payment is made in installments.

It is worth noting that if you are an international buyer, foreign currency payments are not allowed without the Bank of Jamaica’s pre-approval.

After the sale agreement is signed and the deposit paid, an application will be presented to the Office of the Registrar of Titles, and you will pay the government duties. It is important to remember that conveyance of land documents need to be stamped within 30 days after they have been signed or you will be subject to penalty fees.

Once the deed has been transferred, the sale is complete. If you have bought the house in cash, the time for transfer to take effect will depend on the participating parties. If you have bought the house with a mortgage, it can take up to 90 days or more from the date of signing to be completed.

The entire process to register a property normally takes around 49 days.

The National Housing Trust (NHT)

This body was formed in 1976 when the National Insurance Act was amended. The NHT focuses on increasing and improving the available houses in Jamaica, while also giving financial aid to those who are in desperate need of money to build, buy or fix their houses.

When applying for a mortgage, the NHT looks at a variety of factors, most importantly, they look at the current level of indebtedness of the applicant. The NHT has a policy that states that one’s mortgage payment shouldn’t exceed 33.3% of the gross income of the applicant. This is important to remember when applying for finance, as it factors into your affordability too.

Your mortgage payment amount will be calculated based on your age and gross income.

There are a variety of websites that show the houses for sale in different areas, and you will be able to select what you are looking for, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

It is always best to consult your financial institution to determine affordability before viewing homes, so you know what you can spend on when you find a home. This applies to both local and international buyers.

There are many properties available in Jamaica, plenty of which offer great potential to the right buyer. Take your time when looking for a house on the island. Area, size, and price are just a few of the considerations involved in buying a property.

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