Property in the Dominican Republic
The large and diverse Dominican Republic offers uncrowded beaches, a cosmopolitan culture and is the tourism engine of the Caribbean.
It attracts about 140,000 British tourists a year – this figure is increasing – although this figure is dwarfed by the huge volume of North Americans that frequent it every winter – just four hours flight from New York or Boston, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Dominican Republic (or Dom Rep, or DR) is mainly an American playground. But the DR’s easy, exotic charm – and Spanish heritage - has multi-national appeal sees buyers wanting to stay for good.
It’s also a leader in eco-tourism with 250 miles of beaches, mountains, jungles and waterfalls. Prices are still very affordable compared with other Caribbean locations and offer exciting capital growth potential in what is a strongly emerging luxury destination. And, as a further sweetener to international buyers, there is no stamp duty, no tax on rental income and no capital gains tax for 10 years.
Where to Buy Property in the Dominican Republic
For home-hunters used to Caribbean islands you can drive around in a couple of hours, the sheer scale of the Dominican Republic will come as a surprise. It is the Caribbean’s second-largest country, twice the size of Wales, and over a fifth of the land is protected. Yet it also has the huge marinas in the Caribbean, great surfing beaches and is a good golfing destination, offering 18 courses.
There is a wide variety of accommodation types on offer. You can find apartments for less than £50,000 a pretty three-bedroom villa with a pool for not much more than £100,000 or you can find multi million dollar villas in upmarket enclaves such as Punta Cana (where several celebrities have homes) and also in Punta Plana.
Unlike Barbados, Antigiua and St Lucia, the DR remains off the radar for most UK property agents. So for prospective buyers, the market is dominated by American or domestic estate agencies – unfamiliar names to British buyers. But here are a few hot spots.
The north (Atlantic) coast hub offers popular resorts such as Sosua, Cabarete and the main city of Puerto Plata. Known as the silver city on the Amber Coast, Puerto Plata, it is surrounded by fabulous white-sand beaches fringed with palm trees. Other resorts are Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada. Visitors fly into Puerto Plata International airport so the transfers are easy to this area. You can buy studios from around $35,000, townhouses and villas from $100,000, or more luxurious villas for $200,000.
Sosua is a small town in the Puerto Plata province that is known for its lively nightlife and is especially popular with single males with plenty of nightclubs and Playa Sosua is the town’s main beach. Prices are in keeping with the above, with entry level well below $50,000.
Cabarete, a one-time fishing village, is the adventure-sports capital of the DR, booming with condos and new development. It’s a lovely, sophisticated beach town, with top-notch hotels, and great beach bars. Its superlative winds and waves draw windsurfers and kite surfers, in fact all kids of surfers. Property offerings here can be a little more expensive, with sleek contemporary homes from around $120,000 and up – or $800,000 for a beachfront villa.
For those who seek to avoid big resorts and lively nightlife, head further east towards the Samana peninsula, an undeveloped and beautiful finger of land that is free from mass package tourism. Popular towns are Las Galeras and Las Terrenas.
At Playa Grande, Aman Resorts has opened up a 2,000 acre golf and beach resort, Amanera, with elegantly designed high end villas at £2 million.
As east as you can go in the DR is the luxury resort of Punta Cana, where celebrities such as Julio Iglesias own homes. Punta Cana also offers an international airport, to which British Airways flies direct from the UK (not all flights are direct to DR from the UK).One-bedroom apartments here go from under $100,000, but equally, three-bedroom beachfront condos can set you back a million bucks.
The Dominican Republic has far more to offer than beachfront property. Santo Domingo, the capital, was the first city ever to be built in the Americas and has the continent’s oldest university, cathedral and fortress. On the southern coast, it may appeal to those seeking to live or work in the DR rather than purely a home by the beach.
If you fancy a mixture of beach and golf within a gated environment, the huge resort of Casa de Campo in La Romana may appeal. This vast and long-established estate is east of Santo Domingo and offers a private beach, marina and well-reputed golf courses. On the five-star resort covering 7,000 acres of the south-eastern end of the Dominican Republican, near the Del Este National Park properties start at around $400,000 and reach $15million.
How to Buy Property in the Dominican Republic
The buying process is reasonably quick, with six to eight weeks being the norm. After a verbal agreement on the price, an attorney or notary public prepares the Promise of Sale, a binding agreement that is signed by both parties.
It will include a complete and detailed description of the entire transaction up to the time when the purchase price has been paid in full and the property is ready to be conveyed to the buyer. The Deed of Sale is then prepared, also a formal document binding on both parties, and signed in the presence of a Notary Public. At the Title Registry Office, the sale is recorded and a new Certificate of Title is issued in the name of the buyer.
Buying costs, including legal fees, are around six per cent of the purchase price, and foreign buyers have all the same rights as Dominican buyers. Ensure that your solicitor/attorney is performing proper due diligence on your property purchase.