Frequently Asked Questions
As a foreigner, can I buy property in the Dominican Republic without restrictions?
There are no restrictions for foreigners who would like to buy real estate in the Dominican Republic; foreigners have the same rights and obligations when purchasing property as Dominican citizens do, and all a buyer needs is a valid passport.
What is the process for buying real estate in the Dominican Republic?
The procedure is straightforward similar to what is used in the United States, Canada or Europe: once you have decided on the property you like, a formal written offer is made with an earnest deposit of 1% of the amount offered to assure the buyer is committed to the deal. The offer is presented to the seller, and if accepted, the earnest deposit will be part of the final payment. If the offer is not accepted, the earnest deposit is returned to the buyer in its entirety.
A Promise of Sale, a legally binding document executed in the presence of a Notary Public, is then signed by all parties after the required due diligence is completed by the buyer's attorney. The Promise of Sale establishes all the terms of the transaction, and must include the full names and details of the sellers and buyers and references establishing the legal identities of the parties -such as passports, driver's license, etc.- the legal description of the property, the purchase price and payment terms, a default clause, the date of delivery of the property, date of the closing, and the requirement of the seller to sign the Deed of Sale upon receipt of final payment.
If the transaction is paid in full, in lieu of signing a Promise of Sale, the parties can directly execute the Deed of Sale, also a legally binding document endorsed in the presence a Notary Public. This document will allow the transfer of the property from the seller to the buyer, making the entire purchasing process simpler and less expensive since the Promise of Sale step is no longer necessary.
What taxes and closing costs are involved in a real estate transaction?
If buying under your personal name, property transfer tax is established at 3% of the assessed value determined by the Internal Revenue Office, not on the actual purchase price. The assessed value tends to be lower than the appraisal fair market value of the property. Annual property tax is 1% of the same government assessed value in excess of DOP $7,138,384.80 or approximately USD $145,000.00.
If buying under a company's name, transfer tax is 2% of the company's capital which is usually DOP $100,000.00.
Attorneys’ fees are usually 1% of the purchase price. This expense can be considered as the closing cost in other countries, and it usually includes due diligence, tax documentation process, drafting of contracts, etcetera, until you are handed your title under your name by the attorney.
All commissions and fees payable to the real estate agency, Broker or agent are paid by the seller.
How do I know the property I am buying is legally sound and safe to buy?
Seek the advise of a reputable real-estate agent. A professional real-estate agent has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the properties he or she offers have all legal documents in order, making sure titles and surveys are correct and up to date.
Secure the services of a reputable attorney. The real-estate agency, realtor or agent will always advise buyers to hire an attorney who will complete due diligence. Your attorney will secure from the seller or his attorney all documents certifying the legality of the property, including a copy of the Certificate of Title, a copy of the property's official survey or plot plan, a copy of the seller's identification card or current passport and that of the spouse -if married- and a copy of property tax payment receipts from the Internal Revenue Office showing taxes are paid. Additional documents must be presented in case the seller is a corporation or if the property being bought is a condominium, depending on each particular case.
What about health care in Las Terrenas?
National health services in the Dominican Republic are socialized. Government hospitals are free or very inexpensive, but the quality may be deficient. Most foreigners living in the country opt to buy private health insurance and use private hospitals or clinics.
There are first-quality hospitals and clinics in all major cities. Most procedures are done in Santo Domingo in state-of-the-art medical institution accepting all major national and international insurances and run by highly educated English-speaking professionals. CEDIMAT in Santo Domingo is considered the best hospital in the Caribbean.
What is the process for obtaining Dominican Residency?
In order to obtain Dominican residency the applicant needs to get a Residence Visa at the nearest Dominican consulate in his or her country of origin. The applicant must present his or her birth certificate, a police report, marriage certificate, bank references or, if the client owns property in the Dominican Republic already, a copy of the title. All these documents must apostilled*.
*Apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents such as birth certificates, notarials, court orders, or any other document issued by a public authority, so that they can be recognized in foreign countries that are parties to the Hague Convention.
We advise the applicant to contact the Dominican consulate in his or her area to make an appointment and determine if any other documents are necessary. The documents listed above are the basic ones needed, but requirements may change slightly from country to country.
After approving all documents, the consulate will proceed to stamp the Residence Visa in the applicant's passport. This visa is valid for one year. The time to process the visa may be anywhere from three days to one month, depending on the consulate.
Once the applicant has the Residence Visa stamped in the passport, the consulate will return all documents. The applicant must then take all documents to an attorney in the Dominican Republic and continue the process. At a certain point, the applicant must go to Santo Domingo for a medical exam and eventually again to pick up the residency card which will be valid for one year. After the first year, the applicant will have to renew the residency every year for the next five years.
The cost for an attorney handling the first residency process will be approximately USD $1,200.00. Renewals costs are less.
Do inheritance laws cover buyers?
Dominican citizens and foreigners residing in the Dominican Republic have benefited by a recent tax-law ruling lowering inheritance tax to 3% of the government's assessed value of the property. For beneficiaries not residing in the Dominican Republic, this inheritance tax is 4.5%. However, by law, a portion of the inheritance must go to certain heirs despite the existence of a will in another country, for example, and as such, we advise to consult this issue directly with your attorney.
Can I use an MLS System to find a property in the Dominican Republic?
Unlike the United States, Canada or Europe, there is no MLS system (Multiple Listing Service) for realtors to share and collaborate on behalf of buyers and sellers. You will usually find the same property listed with several real estate agencies.
Prospective buyers need to find the right real estate agency to assist them in their search. Buyers should ask as many questions as possible regarding all aspects of the local real estate market where they are planning to invest and should be certain about the proven record of the agency.
How do I find the right real estate agency?
In the Dominican Republic, anyone (the supermarket clerk, the waiter at the beachfront restaurant, your taxi driver or even a casual acquaintance) will try to sell you real estate and provide you with legal advice. It is extremely important buyers choose a professional real-estate agency to get honest guidance and avoid fraudulent schemes.
Using a professional real-estate agency, especially one legally registered to carry out real-estate businesses and established in a proper office will result in buying the dream home instead of a nightmare, getting a better price and true market value and going through a simple, uncomplicated and non-stressful transaction avoiding scams and receiving continued support.
A multilingual staff, especially in Spanish and English will assure the buyer a professional and smooth cooperation between the services needed and would allow for access to a wider range of properties which usually translates into lower prices and special deals from major developers who may not speak other languages.
Well-known franchise agencies may not be the best option abroad. As franchises, these agencies are established with only a profit in mind and are usually staffed by agents without local ties: a local agency may be a better choice.
Should I use a realtor when purchasing pre-construction projects?
Using a realtor as your own representative when considering the purchase of pre-construction projects is to your benefit. Remember that a sales representative from a project being developed works for the builder and that is where his or her true loyalty lies.
By having a realtor you will receive honest and non-biased advice because he would look out for your best interest. In addition, a realtor usually has access to the best floor plans and prices per square meter before the project is released to the general public and knows what are the right questions to ask regarding construction, financing, assignments, occupancy, etcetera.
Another important point to consider is your realtor will be able to negotiate an agreement in your best interest. As price is usually not negotiable, certain fees can be taken out or capped within your agreement.
Your realtor will provide updates on the progress of the project. Questions concerning construction and occupancy can be easily answered, and the most important benefit of using a realtor is that he or she has your best interest at heart. Your realtor will represent you honestly and ethically and will assist you in making the best decision for your needs.
I hear a property cannot be bought without a "deslinde." What does this mean?
The latest updates to the Dominican Republic's Property Registry Law determines real estate property purchases and sales cannot be recorded at the Property Registry without a clear Certificate of Title.
Prior to this law, transfers ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer did not necessarily guarantee the buyer the seller owned the property free and clear. Therefore, previous to this amendment, properties could be bought and sold, but the responsibility of obtaining a Clear Title Certificate was left to the buyer after the purchase. With the new law, a property must have a clear Certificate of Title prior to its sale, just as it is done in the United States, Canada or Europe.
A "deslinde" refers to a clear title which has been issued after the property has received the final judge's approval certifying it has been properly surveyed and that its property lines and boundaries have been clearly defined and established from the original title dating prior to the new registry law or a new title altogether.
Some mistakenly believe a "deslinde" (noun) or "deslindado" (adjective) −which respectively in real estate terms mean a clear title and a properly surveyed property with defined boundaries− are additional required documents. The buyer's attorney will be able to establish whether the property has a clear Certificate of Title or not. No purchase should be carried out without a clear Certificate of Title.
For further information please contact us at:
Tel. 1 829 645 7278