Life on a tropical island: white sand beaches, glorious sunsets, beautiful weather. It sounds ideal, and millions of tourists come to Punta Cana for a taste of that life. If you’re tempted to stay, to buy a condo as a vacation home or as your primary residence, be careful you don’t make foolish mistakes by grabbing the first place that catches your eye.
Buyers are very often not informed of the dangers involved with selling or buying real estate in the Dominican Republic, and many are being deliberately misinformed. Disreputable agents and developers are ready to take advantage of your dreams.
Be sure you are equipped with the right tools and all the information before you sign on the dotted line. These are things you should do to protect your investment and your family.
Never Buy Property Without Title
This may sound like common sense, but every year property buyers are lured by the thought of sipping a piña colada on their balcony while enjoying the evening breeze, that they overlook the most obvious factor in buying Real Estate.
Ask your agent to show you a copy of the title. All professional agents should have your best interests in mind, and should have all documentation before listing a property. In the Dominican Republic developers are issued a mother title at the beginning of a project; after the construction is completed and registered, individual titles are issued. Most properties still in construction do not have their titles yet, and they don’t offer the security and home ownership guarantees of a title deed.
Some developers and real estate projects in Punta Cana are poorly or badly financed; projects can be delayed or scrapped completely, and if you’ve already invested in such a scheme without checking all the details, you could be left on the hook financially. There are no laws protecting you and no guarantee that the project will ever finish, leaving you stranded in the Dominican Republic.
Purchasing a home that doesn’t have a title deed is a foolish and costly endeavor.
Always Deal With Reputable Agents & Developers
Hey, anyone can be a builder, right? It’s just a question of bricks and mortar.
Many developers jumping on the Boom Bandwagon in Punta Cana are cowboys: they aren’t legitimate developers. Many are foreign investors operating at arm`s length: they hire local architects and builders in the Dominican Republic to carry out the project and don`t supervise the building stage or offer any guarantees that the development will ever be completed.
Don`t be taken in by professional-looking websites and building blueprints. Always look for Real Estate agents who only sell titled properties. Avoid agents who sell property that exists only on paper.
Verify the Condominium Status- Who Manages It?
This is very important. Bad condominium management can make the daily life of condo owners very stressful, especially if they don`t live in Punta Cana full-time. It is quite common for developers to refuse to let go of the management of their properties. They continue to control the condominium even after all units are sold, not allowing the owners to communicate with each other to avoid an overthrow /change of condo management.
All condominium developments must have individual titles for each unit. If your unit doesn’t have one, you may run into serious problems such as not being able to legally pursue condo fees for the upkeep of necessary services, or not being able to enforce condominium rules with other owners.
Use a Reputable Lawyer
As with your Real Estate agent, you should feel comfortable with your attorney before having them deal on your behalf. We strongly advise meeting them personally first – BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING.
Do your research. Ask around and investigate their qualifications, credentials, and experience. Do you know anyone who has had a bad experience with them? Review their website, and make note of how they treat you as a client. Do they promptly return calls? Do they seem invested in your business? Do they act professionally?
We would advise you to choose a large and reputable law firm. There are many such firms in the Domincan Republic, but we recommend Guzman Ariza Attorneys at Law, a national law firm with 8 offices nationwide and over 80 years of experience, who offer safe escrow services for their clients.