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House Hunting in … Jamaica

House Hunting in … Jamaica

Wednesday, 13 December, 2017 - 07:30
via New York Times

This Mediterranean-style house is in Spring Farm, a gated hillside community in Montego Bay, on the northwestern coast of Jamaica. It is near many tourist attractions, including beaches and golf, and is about seven miles from Sangster International, one of the largest airports in the Caribbean.

The two-story, white concrete structure is topped with a terra-cotta tile roof and sits on 1.3 landscaped acres, with ocean views. It has four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, as well as separate staff or guest quarters and a large central courtyard with a pool, hot tub, and areas for lounging and dining.

This sprawling 6,800-square-foot house, built in 1994, is being sold fully furnished by the original owners, a local business executive and his family who are moving off the island, said Nicola Delapenha, an agent with Coldwell Banker Jamaica Realty, which is listing the property.

The entry is on the main floor, through a semicircular foyer that looks out into the courtyard. On one side are a powder room, an en-suite bedroom, a home office and a formal living room; on the other, a large kitchen with a breakfast bar and a formal dining room. The kitchen and living and dining rooms all have French doors that open to the courtyard. The staff or guest quarters and a laundry room are also on the main level.

Upstairs are three additional en-suite bedrooms and a sitting area/television room. The large master suite has French doors that open to a balcony, as well as a spacious dressing area and a spalike bathroom with a whirlpool tub and separate shower.

There are ceramic tile and hardwood floors, beamed ceilings and ceiling fans throughout the home, which is decorated with traditional furniture and accessories.

The gated community, in St. James Parish (population of around 185,000), is within walking distance of the Half Moon beachfront resort. Spring Farm owners and renters have access to the resort’s many amenities — including the spa and fitness center, golf, tennis and pools — through various membership plans.

The Montego Bay area has long been a popular tourist destination, with warm weather, sandy beaches and a vibrant night life, along with a wide range of outdoor activities, including golf, scuba diving and dolphin- and whale-watching. The Rose Hall Great House, a restored 18th-century plantation house, is a prominent attraction about three miles from Spring Farm. Downtown Montego Bay is about nine miles away.


Jamaica’s housing market was weakened by the 2008 global financial crisis. But it has been steadily improving over the last five years, particularly in the luxury sector, thanks in large part to an increase in tourism and the return of foreign buyers, real estate agents said.

The island nation was largely unscathed by hurricanes Irma and Maria, which barreled through the Caribbean recently, causing widespread fatalities and billions of dollars in damage. “We’re really lucky,” Ms. Delapenha said.

Rory Marsh, operating principal of Keller Williams Jamaica, said that residential development has been on the rise, and sales of new luxury homes are up at least 25 percent over last year. “The market is very strong right now,” he said.

Ongoing improvements to the country’s aging roadways, bridges and other public structures have helped real estate sales as well, especially in Montego Bay, Ms. Delapenha said. “The area is a lot more attractive to buyers, thanks to an expanded and improved infrastructure.”

Vacation houses in Jamaica typically range in price from around $800,000 to as much as $10 million, Mr. Marsh said, while one- and two-bedroom condominiums near the beach start at around $200,000.


Most foreign buyers are from the United States, Canada and Britain, with a smaller number from Germany, agents said.

Mr. Marsh estimated that 60 percent of international sales in Jamaica are to Americans, 20 percent are to Canadians and the rest are to buyers from Britain and Europe.

“A significant number” of the properties they buy “are operated as second homes, or villas, and are fully staffed,” Ms. Delapenha said, adding that a number are also used as retirement homes.


There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Jamaica. Financing is available to non-Jamaican buyers, but minimum down payments may be higher — typically around 30 percent — said Wayne D. Silvera, a real estate lawyer in Montego Bay.

Lawyers are involved in most aspects of a real estate transaction in Jamaica, from drafting the purchase agreement and conducting a title search to overseeing the deed transfer, the final step in a sale. The process is often completed within 60 days, Mr. Silvera said.

The buyer’s lawyer is usually paid a fee based on a property’s sale price, ranging from 1 to 3 percent. “The higher the home price, the lower the percentage, usually,” Mr. Silvera said.


English, Jamaican Patois

Jamaican dollar (1 JMD = $0.008)


Sellers usually pay the sales commission, typically 5 or 6 percent of the purchase price, as well as the transfer tax. Buyers and sellers split other costs, like stamp duty and registration fees.

The New York Times

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