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Guide to purchasing residential property in the Cayman Islands

15 April 2024

With little to no restrictions and rising property prices, purchasing residential property in the Cayman Islands has proven to be very popular in recent years with local and international purchasers. Caymanian and foreign purchasers are not subject to local income tax, inheritance tax or capital gains tax; however, stamp duty is currently payable. Below, we highlight some of the factors to be considered when purchasing residential property in the Cayman Islands.


Where two or more persons are purchasing property together, you will have the option to register as joint proprietors or proprietors in common. The difference between the two is that joint proprietors will own the property equally, with no specification of shares, as to the ownership of the property. If one of the joint proprietors were to pass away, the property will automatically devolve to the other proprietor. Whereas proprietors in common means that ownership of the property is defined by a share amount (e.g. half share) or percentage of ownership (e.g. 20%), which enables owners to dispose of their share or percentage as they deem appropriate during their lifetime or dictate in their will to whom they want their share of the property to pass to upon their death. Individuals can hold property in their personal name and likewise through a trust or company (domestic or foreign). 

Stamp duty 

 As mentioned above, ownership of property in the Cayman Islands attracts no local property tax, income tax, inheritance tax or capital gains tax. However, typically purchases (and leases) of property would be subject to stamp duty payable to the Cayman Islands Government. Generally, stamp duty is 7.5% of the higher of the purchase price or the market value, which is the same for all purchasers, local and foreign investors alike.

First-time Caymanian buyers are entitled to a discretionary reduced rate or exemption, which is contingent on the purchase price, or market value of the property. Recently, legislation was also amended to include reduced rates and exemption references for second-time Caymanian buyers. In addition to this, banks will charge 1% stamp duty for secured loans of KYD$300,000/US$365,853.66 and less, and 1.5% for secured loans more than KYD$300,000/US$365,853.66.


When purchasing property in the Cayman Islands, purchasers have the option of securing financing from any private or institutional lender of their choice. Where necessary, we are able to make introductions, as we are on the lending panels of all banks in Cayman and have contacts to whom we can introduce clients. 

Strata lots

Extra care should be taken when purchasing a strata lot. Strata lots are a parcel of land with one or more buildings on the parcel which has then been subdivided into multiple units and registered pursuant to a strata plan. Upon registration, a strata corporation will come into effect with by-laws. The strata corporation will comprise all of the lot owners or an elected body to administer the strata's affairs. Owners are subject to a set of strata by-laws which are legally binding on all owners. The by-laws may contain rules and restrictions on the use of the property, as well as any reserved powers retained by the developer of the strata.

In addition to obtaining and reviewing the by-laws, it is imperative that a buyer also requests a copy of the strata's minutes, insurance, and accounts. The strata minutes will enable you to review the current function of the strata corporation and any decisions made regarding the strata. The minutes may highlight any issues with the property and the strata corporation's proposed plan for remedying those issues. The minutes could also contain a budget forecast for the upcoming year and if there are any plans to increase/decrease any strata fees paid. The insurance will confirm the strata has insurance for the building and other common areas. Obtaining a copy of the accounts will also allow the buyer to check if the strata's finances are in good order and whether the strata has enough reserves for any planned maintenance costs relating to the property, and a sufficient sinking fund for any unplanned costs. 

Appointing an attorney 

We would recommend appointing a real estate agent to assist with the sale or purchase of your property and you should do this as early as possible. Where necessary, we are able to make introductions to a recommended real estate agent in the Cayman Islands. 

It would always be advisable to appoint an attorney. This is fundamental, as an experienced attorney will assist with protecting a party's interest in a transaction. On the buyer's side, an attorney will review and explain all the details of the transaction to the buyer to mitigate any common pitfalls. The buyer's attorney will also conduct numerous due diligence checks, such as making enquiries of the seller, reviewing the title of the property to ensure that the seller has authority to sell and provide a formal report on title. This document is very important, as title insurance is not generally available in the Cayman Islands. 

Where a buyer or seller does not appoint an attorney to deal with the closing, they could run the risk of: 

  • paying closing monies to someone who is not the legal owner of the property or a fraudster; 
  • buying a property with a defective title or an existing charge which may be difficult to sell or be inadequate security for future lending; 
  • failing to register the buyer as the new legal owner of the property at the Cayman Islands Lands and Survey Department and/or paying stamp duty (which will attract fines and interest if unpaid); and
  • inadvertently getting caught up in money laundering proceedings if you accept money for the sale of your property from a purchaser who is not represented by an attorney and is using laundered money to purchase your property. 

Whilst we have highlighted a handful of scenarios that can occur with purchasing property in the Cayman Islands, the purpose of appointing an attorney is to identify any potential issues and find solutions so that the transaction is completed with the best outcome possible. Purchasing property is a significant venture and should not be taken lightly, no matter how simple the process is. Our aim is to ensure that the client does not experience any adverse repercussions or suffer any losses as a result of not knowing or understanding a step in the purchase process. Therefore, we would recommend appointing an attorney as early as possible in the transaction. 


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