A common misconception for those interested in purchasing property in Barbados is that it is a difficult, time-consuming process. Truthfully, the entire process—from commencement to completion—should take 1-3 months (possibly less, depending on the method of financing), unless unforeseen complications arise.
Barbados, unlike some of its neighbouring Caribbean islands, does not require non-residents to acquire a licence to purchase property—instead, a potential purchaser of land/property in Barbados must obtain permission from the Exchange Control Authority. (Barring any complications, this permission is normally granted in a timely fashion.1)
 It is our custom to advise non-residents to register any foreign funds brought into Barbados with the Foreign Exchange Control of the Central Bank of Barbados. We advise this course of action because it safeguards their investment and ensures the timely repatriation of the funds should the need arise to dispose of the property and repatriate the funds to their country of origin.
Under the Laws of Barbados, all transactions involving an interest in property in this island must be facilitated by an Attorney-at-Law; one who represents the Vendor, and one who represents the Purchaser.
Once the Vendor and Purchaser have successfully negotiated a purchase price for the property, the Attorney(s)-at-Law for the Vendor will prepare the Agreement for Sale.
Agreement for Sale
The Agreement for Sale is the contractual document which identifies the Vendor and Purchaser, describes the property being sold/purchased, the price at which it is being sold/purchased, and the terms and conditions under which the sale/purchase will proceed.
Prior to signing the Agreement for Sale, the Purchaser’s Attorney(s)-at-Law is responsible for perusing the document for legal accuracy and completeness. Once everything is determined to be in order, the Vendor and Purchaser will sign the document and 10% of the purchase price is paid (as a deposit) by the Purchaser to the Vendor’s Attorney(s)-at-Law (who retains it as ‘stakeholder’) until the transaction is completed.
Once the Agreement for Sale is executed by the Vendor and Purchaser, the Attorney(s)-at-Law for both parties will exchange the required documents needed for the completion of the transfer of the property and the preparation of the Deed of Conveyance.
The Purchaser’s Attorney(s)-at-Law is/are also responsible for, among other things, conducting searches against the property being sold/purchased. This is done to establish indefeasible title thereto, and to ascertain whether there are any charges, encroachments, encumbrances, impediments, judgments, rights of way and other issues relating to the property that would adversely impact on the transaction’s prompt completion. Furthermore, under the provisions of the Property Act, Cap. 236, of the Laws of Barbados, twenty (20) years is the statutory time period to establish a good root of title. (Note that in some instances, a longer period may be required.)
The Deed of Conveyance
The title to property passes by way of a Deed of Conveyance. The completion of the sale/purchase transaction requires the recording of the following documents at the Land Registry of Barbados:
The Deed of Conveyance.
Declaration of Commission under the Property Transfer Tax Act, Chapter 84A, of the Laws of Barbados with respect to the commission payable to a Real Estate Agent.
Change of Ownership forms, submitted to the Barbados Revenue Authority.
Certified survey plans (e.g. key plan, individual plan of land).
Once the abovementioned matters have been settled, the Attorney(s)-at-Law for the parties meet to ‘close’ the purchase. Closing involves the completion of all legal formalities associated with the sale/purchase of the property, including the payment of the balance of the purchase price and apportioned land tax, the documents of title (inclusive of all past title deeds), the relevant land tax information, and any ancillary documents (such as the transfer of utilities and delivery of keys).
The law firm Dale Neblett-Brown & Associates consists of a dynamic team of Attorneys-at-Law who specialise in Conveyancing. They are led by Dale C. Neblett-Brown, Q.C., who has been an upstanding Property Law Attorney in Barbados and Jamaica for over 39 years.
Mrs. Neblett-Brown, Q.C. is supported by Jovani J. Brown LL.B (Hons), LL.M, L.E.C., Stefan J. Carrington-Henry LL.B (Hons), L.E.C., Attorneys-at-Law, and Sakeirah A. Rawlins LL.B (Hons), Senior Legal Assistant.
For further information, feel free to contact DNB Associates directly:
First Floor One Welches, Welches, St. Thomas, Barbados, W. I.