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Altman Real Estate

Barbados, WI Phone246 432 0840 Fax246 432 2147 Website

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At a glance

A long established, smart West Coast and South Coast Barbados real estate agency - one of the top agencies for Barbados real estate.

Best for:
Being highly reputable, and at the forefront of some prestigious Barbados development projects

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In Depth

Altman Real Estate Group is a smart and long established real estate agency based on the West Coast of Barbados. The company deals in all types of property in all parts of the island, though often along the West Coast itself. These include the sale of many of the island’s famous private villas of course, but also the sale of villas and apartments in new holiday developments (which Altman themselves back in some cases), in project management, commercial property and urban development. Led by Barbadian Paul Altman, the company is one of the leading forces in the industry on the island. It has arms in several other islands in the area under the name Altman Caribbean Inc and it is the exclusive international associate of Savills on Barbados.

Altman also has a property management and villa rental arm, through which you can rent holiday villas in Barbados.

Since the 1970s the real estate business in Barbados has grown out of all proportion. And Altman has grown in parallel with it. For example, in keeping with the growth of importance of the South Coast, they opened an office there in 2007. Altman is quite a large company now, with around 70 employees altogether (working in both arms of the company), located in offices just opposite The Cliff restaurant in Derricks, on the West Coast, in Worthing on the South Coast and more recently with a third location at the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown. Paul Altman himself joined the company in 1980 and has been there ever since.

Over the next 20 years the industry began to change as Barbados itself developed. In addition to the private houses along the coast and in Sandy Lane, villa developments began to appear, for which Alleyne, Aguilar and Altman, as it came to be known, did the marketing and sometimes the project management. Villa resorts also began to be themed. The company was involved in the creation of Royal Westmoreland, for instance, with its many villas around a golf course. It has been behind many of the most famous properties around the island. Gradually the company developed its complete strategy, of offering everything that buyers need. They will sell the property to you, help you redevelop it, manage it and if you want to they will put it up for rental. Much of their work is in the tourism industry, but they also deal in commercial property and its development around Barbados.

Barbados has seen considerable development over the years, and recently there has been building nearly all over the island (though the majority of projects that Altman deal with are around the West Coast). The recession has put a brake on things for the moment, but it is worth noting that otherwise the industry has done consistently well as a general trend and prices have only increased. There have been many themed developments, around golf courses (with more on the cards at the moment) and a theme of tennis, even villas around a polo pitch at Lion Castle. Some of their leading properties include Sugar Hill, Mullins Bay, Old Trees, Schooner Bay, The Lakes, Sandy Cove and most recently the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, an upscale residential and retail development in Holetown.

Barbados still has some of the highest value property in the Caribbean. The top villas on the west coast, which rate among the most elegant private houses in the Caribbean, have been known to change hands at US$20 million or more. Paul Altman’s advice about buying property in Barbados is to do so because you can afford it and because you love the island enough to return again and again, rather than simply as an investment.

Altman Real Estate is an international associate of Savills in Barbados, which brings interest from the metropolitan countries, and the company’s interest extends beyond the island as well. In islands closer to hand they represent both free-standing villas and apartments or villa developments in Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and in Canouan.

Paul Altman has headed up the company for many years. He didn’t start off in real estate, but property was always in his family. His father was still doing developments at the handsome age of 93. His own first project was actually a redevelopment in Speightstown, a commercial property which he still owns. But as the tourism industry in Barbados developed, so he and his company have been prime movers. He was involved in the development of Royal Westmoreland and is a director of Sugar Hill. In other areas he set up Fortress Caribbean, a property fund within the Caribbean. He is a former President of the Barbados National Trust and in 2000 he was awarded the Centennial Honour by the Barbados government. More recently, in 2007, Paul was awarded The Gold Crown of Merit, which is presented to a 'prominent businessman...for his significant contribution to the development of the tourism sector and the preservation of the heritage of Barbados' (quoted from Nation Newspaper).

Buyer's Guides for Barbados Real Estate

Altman Real Estate Group has been helping purchasers identify and acquire the right property for over 30 years. This article is intended as a guide to both residents and non-residents alike. It is not intended to be exhaustive, and purchasers should always consult an attorney.

Legal Issues

On Barbados property passes by conveyance of title, evidenced by the recording of title deeds and certified survey plans at the registry of title. A purchaser will require a registered Barbadian attorney to search the register and establish title to the property prior to the completion of a sale.

On Barbados the purchaser agrees terms with the vendor and enters into a contract prepared by the vendor's attorney, which provides for a deposit to be made securing the property. This deposit is held by the vendors' attorney in escrow until completion, when the balance of the purchase price is paid and the title passes to the purchaser by way of the conveyance. Between the time of executing the contract and the completion of the sale, the legal representative of the purchaser will search the title, and ensure that there are no encumbrances, charges, encroachments, or other impediments to the sale.

The title may be taken in an individual's name or through a corporate vehicle set up to own the property. It is usual in the case of non-residents of Barbados that they purchase property through a company which may be incorporated outside Barbados, but which must be registered to do business on Barbados.

In many cases, non-residents use such a corporate vehicle in order to make the onward sale of the property simple.


Town and Country Planning Approval

If the purchaser is buying vacant land, the vendor will require a Certificate of Compliance from the Town and Country Planning Office (TCPO), which certifies that the roads and services have been provided in accordance with planning guidelines. It is therefore illegal for a vendor to sell a property without a Certificate of Compliance.

If the purchaser is buying a built property that is to be improved, or intends to build a property on the land, he will require planning permission from TCPO. The planning permission is granted in accordance with a set of guidelines established by acts of Parliament and statutory instruments, which govern such things as set backs from adjoining properties, roads, cliff tops, and the high water mark, if the property is on the beach. The guidelines also cover density and building height. In addition, TCPO would be guided by the zoning of the land and environmental issues, such as the method of effluent disposal, and the capturing of rainwater for irrigation purposes.

In all cases application is made to the TCPO and permission is usually granted within a period of two to six months.

Transaction Costs

In 1998 the Government abolished property transfer tax for non-national purchasers, which was previously set at 10%. Sales commissions and survey costs are borne by the vendor. Each party bears their own legal fees, which are based on a scale of fees ranging between 1.5% - 2%. This is the only purchase transaction cost other than incidental costs of forming and registering a company if a corporate vehicle is to be used.

When selling a property the vendor would normally incur sales commissions of 5%, transfer tax of 2.5%, stamp duty of 1% and legal fees of approximately 1.5%.

Operating Costs

The owners of property in Barbados have to pay an annual Land Tax at the following rates

• 0% on first BDS$190,000
• 0.10% in excess of BDS$190,000 up to $500,000
• 0.45% in excess of BDS$500,000 up to $1,250,000
• 0.75% in excess of BDS$1,250,000

The main other operating costs would include insurance, which ranges from 0.4% for residences; 0.6% for commercial buildings; 0.9% for hotels, and in all cases would depend on characteristics of the building and the site. Other major costs would include metered utilities, and any common assessments applicable to master planned communities.

Other Taxes

Property owners wishing to rent their property on the short-term rental market must apply 8.75% VAT to the rent. The registration for VAT allows the property to deduct VAT on input costs.

The profit derived from the rental activities will be subject to income tax in Barbados, and a remittance of a dividend or interest.

Important Notice

No description or information given whether or not in this review and whether written or verbal information about Barbados may be relied upon as a statement or representation of fact. Neither DefinitiveCaribbean, Altman Real Estate nor its joint agents have any authority to make any representation and accordingly any information given is entirely without responsibility on the part of Altman Real Estate or DefinitiveCaribbean.