Tax ‘Freedom’ draws U.S. buyers to real estate in the Bahamas

Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas

It’s just a little extension of America. Baby boomers looking to set down roots in a coastal area are finding a better value just 50 miles offshore from Florida. They are finding there is more to the Caribbean than the island lifestyle, warm sunshine and year-round outdoor living – it is the savings.

Tax freedom is an often-overlooked benefit in coastal real estate markets such as Grand Bahama Island.

And while it may not be a determining factor in choosing one home over another, or this island over that island, it can have a significant impact.
“On Grand Bahama Island, you don’t pay property taxes,” said Steve Jervis, owner and president of Shoreline, a 26-acre master-planned gated community on this tropical island barely 50 miles off the Florida coast.

“For people from such places as Florida, where property tax rates have skyrocketed, this tax-free environment is becoming an increasingly attractive area to purchase costal real estate,” he said.

Actually, Grand Bahama is a country exempt from all taxes on revenue, capital gains and inheritance. “The government,” Jervis said, “raises revenue from customs duties.”

Shoreline buyers purchase their homes fee-simple, or freehold. They can transfer their titles with ease. There are no stamp duties, homeowner association covenants or agreements modeled after those that many property owners in the United States have to deal with.

At Shoreline, the nominal $300 monthly maintenance fee is on par with many other private complexes in the States. “But the no-tax angle seems to intrigue buyers,” Jervis said. “On a million dollar house, you can save $20,000 a year. Buyers realize they can get all these amenities that Shoreline offers – and they don’t have to pay property taxes.”

Shoreline caters to a growing homebuyer market with 10 neo-traditional styles. Prices range from $680,000 to more than $2.5 million for 2,800 to 4,500-square-foot homes with three to five bedrooms. The community also boasts a clubhouse, seven pools, three tennis courts, a fresh-water lake, gardens and 2.5 acres of beachfront lawns.

“Clearly,” said Jervis, “the Bahamas experience – its climate, the weather, obviously the ocean, the lifestyle, all these things – entices people from the nearby U.S. and places all over the world to discover this shoreline development.”

The attraction seems to be working. Shoreline has sold 38 of its 78 properties to clients from around the world. “And demand is growing,” he said.
Shoreline is located just minutes from an international airport and Port Lucaya, with its golfing, shopping, casinos and nightlife.

Jervis said potential buyers include Baby Boomers looking for a comfortable spot to settle down – but not too far from the United States. Demographers say that many of the 70-million-plus men and women born between 1946 and 1964 feel they can work a better retirement deal outside the U.S. border. “Modern communications and transportation make it easy,” Jervis said, “to stay in touch and come home frequently for visits.”

Shoreline attracts buyers looking for a primary residence or those looking second homes and investment property. Prospective purchasers get another bonus – when they come to Shoreline, to tour the community, they have an opportunity to reside in a special guest home and experience paradise firsthand.

“In the end,” said Jervis, “it’s a lifestyle decision.” But he noted; “You can get all these things without having to pay property taxes.”

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