Real estate investment in St Martin / St-Marteen, Carribean Island
If you are currently considering investing in real estate in St Maarten / St Martin but you are wondering “where are the best places to buy property in St Maarten / St Martin ?” or “how do I go about owning property in St Maarten / St Martin as a foreign buyer” then this guide is for you.
Our guide takes you through the process of buying property in St Maarten / St Martin from beginning to end, including an introduction to the real estate market, the buying process and the taxes you will need to be aware of.
Overview of the St Martin, St Marteen real estate market
The 37 square mile island of St Martin is the smallest island in the world to be divided between two nations. The northern part of the island – Sint Maarten – is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The southern part of the island – Saint Martin – is an overseas collectivity of France.
Having been shared by the French and the Dutch since 1648, the island has an exceptionally diverse feel. The half a million jet set tourists that visit the island each year enjoy the best of both worlds: gourmet European restaurants, buzzing nightlife, spectacular beaches, and island-wide duty-free shopping.
Lively, cosmopolitan and easily accessible, St Martin is well established as a premier Caribbean destination for overseas property buyers. The real estate markets on both the Dutch and the French sides of the island are both well established.
On the French side, the Terres Basses (lowlands) area is the setting for some of the island’s most magnificent luxury homes. Opulent houses and villas are nestled into hillsides and along the beautiful beaches at Baie Rouge and Baie Longue. Orient Bay on the northern coast, which is renowned for one of the best beaches on the island, is also a popular place to own a home.
The Dutch side of the island offers a very wide selection of properties from affordable condos, luxury apartments as well as villas by the beach and waterfront. Popular areas to invest include Simpson Bay, Cupecoy and Maho on the western coast and Orient Bay and Guana Bay on the eastern coast.
Why Invest ?
Buying Process, Fees & Taxes
CAN FOREIGNERS BUY PROPERTY IN ST MAARTEN / ST MARTIN?
Yes, foreigners can buy property in St Maarten / St Martin and the island welcomes investment from overseas buyers. There are no restrictions on foreign buyers acquiring real estate in St Maarten / St Martin. Unlike in other destinations in the Caribbean, non-Citizens do not require a license or permit to purchase property on the island. On the Dutch side of the island property can be purchased in the name of an individual or corporation.
Buying property in St Maarten / St Martin is a relatively simple process, which typically involves the following steps:
- Begin your property search.
- Find your perfect property and make an offer.
- On both French St Martin and Dutch St Maarten real estate can be purchased fee simple or via long lease (government or private).
- There is no need for an attorney because a civil law notary is responsible for performing the title search and ensuring clear title transfer. The buyer is required to pay a deposit which typically amounts to 10%. The notary will prepare the required legal documents which should be signed by the buyer and seller.
- Transactions are normally completed within 4 to 6 weeks and the buyer is responsible for paying a one-time transfer tax as well as notary fees.
FEES & TAXES
TRANSFER TAX & NOTARY FEES
On Dutch St Maarten transaction costs including transfer fees and notary fees amount to approximately 5% to 6%.
On French St Martin transaction costs including transfer fees and notary fees amount to approximately 10%.
N.B. While there is no capital gains tax on Dutch St Maarten, there is a 33.5% capital gains tax on the sale of property.
There are no annual property taxes in Dutch St Maarten.
Yes, real estate in St. Maarten can be jointly owned. Joint ownership of the real estate in St. Maarten may occur when two or more private individuals or legal entities jointly purchase the real estate property.
In St. Maarten, the joint ownership common regulations or the beheersregeling may be created or put in place to provide for the rules that will govern the individuals.
WHERE IS MY REAL ESTATE OWNERSHIP RECORDED ?
If you decide to purchase property in St. Maarten, the ownership of the real estate shall refer to and must be recorded in the public register for real estate property. The land registry in St. Maarten is called a Kadaster. It often provides an overview of the liens, mortgages, encumbrances, and all details related to land ownership in St. Maarten.
If you purchase property, the civil law notary who executes the transfer deed will have to register the new ownership in the public register for real estate property.
This is primarily done to complete the transfer of ownership of property in St. Maarten. After which, the buyer is now considered as a property owner in St. Maarten.
PAYING FOR YOUR REAL ESTATE PURCHASE IN ST.MARTEEN
Paying for your real estate purchase in St. Maarten is just as important as all of the legalities that you have to undergo to legally obtain the real estate property in St. Maarten. How do you pay for your real property in St. Maarten? There are two ways: a certified banker’s check payable to the order of the office of the notary and a wire transfer in United States dollars are two of the more important ways that you can pay for your purchase of the real estate in St. Maarten.
A bank account can be opened at the local banks and you may set them up either as a corporate resident or a personal account. The properties are then transferred following the European systems.
Other than your purchase price of the property in St. Maarten, you should also expect to pay a one-time government transfer tax of 4% in addition to the Notary’s fee. The total closing cost of the property and the transfer tax may be between 4% to 6% of the purchase price.
Since you should not expect to have any closing costs on any of the movable items or furniture, you may deduct the value of such items from the gross price. The value determines to be for the understanding of both the buyer and the seller and must be agreed upon beforehand.
What if I want to purchase property to be turned in a leased property?
If the purchase of the property that you have is to be turned into a real estate investment, you are recommended to have it named after an offshore company for more tax breaks. The notaries and trust companies in the Caribbean islands can provide you with the necessary information related to this need.
However, regardless of whether the property you have falls under any of the above categories, you should take note of the zoning requirements of the property.
Zoning requirements are different for residential use and somewhat commercial use. Ask your civil notary to look at the property and include the zoning rules in St Maarten Real Estate Law as part of the search. Tell them the specific purpose of your investment.
Mortgages in St Maarten / St Martin
Looking for financing to fund the purchase of property in the Caribbean?
Contrary to popular misconception, it is possible for foreign nationals looking to invest in St Maarten real estate or St Martin real estate to apply for a mortgage.
Our partner – a very well respected international financial organization – offers mortgages for qualifying non-residents buying, building or improving a second home in St Maarten / St Martin.
For more information, see our page on: Caribbean mortgages.
How to get there ?
- Miami to St Maarten 3h 00m
- New York to St Maarten 4h 00m
- Atlanta to St Maarten 4h 20m
- Toronto to St Maarten 4h 50m
- Amsterdam to St Maarten 8h 40m
- Paris to St Maarten 9h 00m
There are direct international flights to St Maarten from various cities in the United States, Canada, France and the Netherlands.
International flights to St Maarten arrive at Princess Juliana International Airport near Simpson Bay and Maho Bay on the west coast of the island.
St Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport is one of the region’s major hubs.
From the USA, there are numerous direct flights from various cities, including Atlanta (Delta), Charlotte and Philadelphia (US Airways), Miami, New York and San Juan (American Airlines), Boston (JetBlue), Chicago and Washington (United Airlines).
From Canada, fly to the USA and take a connecting or flight or, during high season, WestJet operates direct flights from Toronto.
From Europe, Air France and KLM operate direct flights to St Maarten.
From the Caribbean, LIAT operates flights from most islands and Insel Air operates flights from the ABC Islands.