Cuba OKs Private Real Estate Agents

Real Estate activity becomes a legal activity in Cuba. The photo is of a "runner" on Havana's Prado promenade.
Real Estate activity becomes a legal activity in Cuba. The photo is of a “runner” on Havana’s Prado promenade.

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban authorities have made the job of real estate agent a legal private economic activity instead of the tolerated illegal job it has been for many years in the swapping and sale of homes, reported dpa news, reported dpa news.

Since the liberalization of the sale of homes almost two years ago, the function of the “runners”, as they are called, has become more popular on the island.

Raul Castro’s government is in the process of making numerous reforms, called “updating” the country’s economic system with market elements, after decades of state monopoly.


4 thoughts on “Cuba OKs Private Real Estate Agents

  • Cuba opened the doors to investment property with the approval of the new immigration law granting residency to foreign owners and lessees of property in the country. Last October 2012, Cuba’s Gaceta Oficial (Decree 305, Articles 92 and 93) announced a revision to Cuban immigration law, which now makes foreigners who own real estate or have long-term property rentals on the island eligible for one-year visas renewable for an extra year. The new visa category, “Real Estate Resident” (Residente de Inmobiliaria) is now officially listed along with other types of visas for which incoming foreigners can apply.

    Those who digest these new immigration rules will notice that Cuba now has a new category of residents:
    “Se clasifican como residentes de in-mobiliarias las personas naturales extranjeras propietarias o arrendatarias de viviendas en complejos inmobilia-rios en el territorio nacional y sus familiares extranjeros residentes en esos inmuebles.”

    Such real estate developments that foreigners can acquire include new build high-class complexes Punta Colorada & Marina, near Guanahacabibes peninsula, in the far west-laying province of Pinar del Rio, designed for the use and enjoyment of multimillionaires. There is also a planned development in Loma Lina, near Guardalavaca (Holguin). In a Canadian-Cuban real estate development joint venture, Standing-Feather International appears to have already signed a deal and will reportedly begin selling in 2015. Apparently, the plan calls for 1,200 houses and the prices will be in the $400-$700k range which was a lower estimate. Foreigners who buy one of this condos receive residence in Cuba for themselves and their family.

    Property titles and title search will hardly be an issue for new builds. The most disagreeable hindrance is the existing clause that a foreigner cannot sell his property to anyone other than the Cuban government and it can only be bequeath – by will or donation – to a family member. Unless Cuba also changes its rules about freehold ownership being joint venture with the government, these are ambitious projects that may never see the light of day. Until Cuba allows private equity, very few companies, whether foreign or Cuban, are going to invest. The economic model needs to be rethought. Perhaps Raul Castro needs a trip to Vietnam.

  • It remains illegal for foreigners to own real estate in Cuba. Who is the vender of the property your website advertised, located on 5th Avenue in Miramar? Was this home confiscated by the Revolution? Have the original owners ceded legal title? Does the vendor have legal standing as a rightful seller? Can you provide title search and title insurance?

  • How is the chain of title established on these properties? Many of the houses offered for sale were the homes of Cuban citizens who fled the country, some were larger homes subdivided on order of the Revolution. Do Cuban real estate lawyers today perform title searches? Is there such a thing as title insurance?

    How can a potential buyer know whether or not the house he plans to buy won’t be contested by the original owner?

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