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An Investor’s Guide to Buying Property in St. Maarten

Besides being a tropical heaven and sun-soaked island, St. Maarten is known for its booming real estate market. With no personal gain taxes or annual property taxes, it offers a perfect opportunity to dip your toes into the business and invest in some of the most lavish properties.

While investing in the properties of St. Maarten, the goal is to put your money to good use to make even more in the future. Real estate investment here is relatively straightforward, but any wrong step can result in minor or major consequences. We have created this guide to make your real estate journey smooth and stress-free.

St. Maarten Real Estate Market

It is a 37 sq. mile island that is part Dutch and part French. The northern side of this island—Saint Martin—is owned by France, whereas the southern side—Sint Maarten—is a part of the Netherlands. They have been sharing this island amicably since 1648, which gives it a distinct and diverse feel.

St. Maarten sees thousands of tourists every year who get to enjoy two European vacations in one and relish stunning views, vibrant beaches, Caribbean cuisine, and buzzing nightlife. Most people choose this as their retirement destination, and some move here either permanently or temporarily. Whatever the reason might be, there is always a high demand for residence in St. Maarten.

Due to the island’s cosmopolitan, vibrant vibes and easily accessible features, investors frequently buy and sell property here. Hence the real estate market is well established and thriving.

Buying Property in St. Maarten

Foreigners Can Own Property

Most Caribbean destinations require permits or licenses to buy a property, however, in St. Maarten, you don’t. Citizen or not, you can easily purchase and own a property in St. Maarten. They encourage overseas buyers to invest in their island and real estate market with no restrictions. Another great thing is that you can buy a property in your or your corporation’s name if you’re investing on the Dutch side.

Investors are protected under Dutch and French law in St. Maarten/St. Martin. They can even opt for purchasing land for future development. Civil notaries are responsible for protecting the rights of sellers and buyers of the properties.

Buying a Property on Dutch Side vs. French Side

St. Martin (French Side)

If you’re investing in the French side, aka Saint-Martin, all the documents are in French, with English translation. Also, you get only one type of ownership, i.e., Fee simple. This deed has a 35% of capital gains tax when selling, but it isn’t applicable on the properties that are the buyer’s primary residence. In addition, there are real estate taxes involved on this side of the island, including a transfer tax of 10.5% and an annual real estate tax.

St. Maarten (Dutch Side)

On the Dutch side, everyone speaks English, and the documents are in English too. You get three types of titles of ownership:

  • Fee Simple
  • Private Long Lease
  • Government Long Lease

In the long lease, the Dutch government gives rights to private individuals for 60 years (which can be renewed) who pay a fee called canon, equal to per meter sq. per annum. In this deed, the government has the right to buy the property from the owner at the market value if they need it, but this only happens rarely.

None of these deeds that the Dutch side offers has a capital gain tax or annual real estate tax if an individual owns it. However, a one-time transfer tax of approximately 5–6% is a real estate closing cost. Also, a 35% profit tax will be applicable upon selling in those cases where a corporation owns the property.

Buying Process

The process of buying property in St. Maarten is pretty simple. You can either begin your property search on your own or hire a real estate agent for property listings. We would suggest you hire an experienced and professional real estate company in St. Maarten because they can guide you through each step thoroughly.

Once you decide on the property you want, you can make an offer and decide what type of lease you want. Of course, it’s only possible on the Dutch side because there is only one type of lease on the French side.

You don’t need an attorney for this process because all the legal matters like title search, ensuring clear transfer, and preparing legal documents are performed by a Civil Law Notary. You’ll have to pay a 10% deposit and sign all the required documents. Moreover, you’ll also have to pay the one-time transfer tax and notary fees upon completion.

Perks of Investing in St. Maarten

  • No annual property taxes or capital gains taxes when selling a property (except when a corporation owns the property)
  • As a buyer, you don’t have to be physically present, and the local notary will act as your attorney
  • You can import your belongings or other furnishings with zero taxes
  • You don’t have to hire an attorney because the local notary will look after all your legal matters
  • The local banks in St. Maarten offer great financing options to foreigners
  • There is a higher demand for rental properties, so you can turn your property into a vacation rental to earn profits

Conclusion

Real estate in St. Maarten is a hot market right now, and the prices are expected to go up in the coming years. This is the perfect time to invest in this opportunity and enjoy the benefits in the future. All you need to do is buy a property, turn it into a rental home and enjoy the profits from any part of the world without living here.

To make the buying process smooth and hassle-free, you should opt for a real estate agency with adequate experience in the Caribbean, such as Bright Future Realtors. They have experience and expertise in commercial and rental properties in St. Maarten. You can reach out to them for more information or visit their website to look at property listings.

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