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Published Articles on Real Estate - Anguilla Life Magazine



Over the last few months, as elections approached and as winners were announced, there was concern voiced with regard to the outcome and implications of the election results-within the context of this article I'll address myself to those concerns as they relate to expatriate property ownership.

While it is certainly fair to say that some of the speeches and campaign literature of this past election could make many uncomfortable, it is important to balance the rhetoric of the campaign with the reality of the past five years. While I do not wish to apologize for hard remarks made by anyone, on the campaign stump or elsewhere (as hard remarks beget hurt feelings which in turn beget more hard remarks), it is important to point out that on Anguilla (as in most other democracies) the politics of winning elections is often quite different from the reality of governing. To buttress the point, let's focus on land-in particular, private residential and tourism development.

Over the past five years, an average of approximately twenty-five Alien Land Holding Licenses have been activated each year. While the number of Licenses approved and prepared by the Government has been considerably higher, an annual average of approximately twenty five foreign investors have actually paid their stamp duties and registered their title to land. For a small economy with a limited number of contractors, this activated average is not insignificant. What is surprising, however, is how few people seem aware of the number--a number that does not surprise me, as I've been involved in a considerable percentage of those approved Licenses.

These License approvals have covered purchases of small tracks of land by West Indian nationals who are not Anguillian Belongers, as well as purchases of alienated homes for renovation and remodeling, and purchases of undeveloped land for construction of elegant vacation villas and significant tourism projects, as bought by North Americans and Europeans alike.

From Sonesta's purchase of Casablanca to Cuisinart's purchase at Rendezvous Bay, from the purchase of Coccoloba to the sale of Sea Grape, from the introduction of elegant rental villas such as Cerulean to the sale at Cul de Sac, real estate has been transferring and (in general) profits have been realized. In sum, deals are being done and the investment climate remains strong, as I (for one) continue to see active interest in real estate purchases for which I anticipate continued License approvals.

As an aside to the above, but in parallel with it, is the number of Belonger Applications that have been granted over these past five years. While some may feel too many were issued and others too few (in fact, I personally know of a couple of Applications that appear worthy but are still in limbo), the fact remains that Belonger Status (like Alien Land Holding Licenses) have been bestowed on numerous individuals these past five years-contrary to many erroneous perceptions.

On a slightly different vein-a correction: in my last article I put forward the proposal that Accommodation Tax be scrapped for private residences that are rented, and replaced with a higher annual Property Tax for all foreign owned homes. While I still feel there is merit in the concept, the tax rate I threw out was far too high-the shift from the existing Accommodation Tax to a higher Property Tax should not be punitive, but corrective. Whereas I initially referred to a tax rate of 3%, I subsequently realized that on a $500,000 home the annual Property Tax would be US$15,000-far too high. As such, instead of the .075% Property Tax that is currently in place, perhaps an additional point in lieu of Accommodation Tax would be feasible-bringing the annual tax on that $500,000 house to US$5,375 instead of the current US$375. All this could be avoided if property owners required to pay Accommodation Tax actually paid it, but as they often do not, Property Taxes (rather than intrusive questions, exempted guest lists, etc.) might be a viable alternative-especially if coupled with Permits of Permanent Residence, as proposed.


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