Vacant Land in the Bahamas

I want to get rid of a parcel of vacant land in the Bahamas. I’ve been paying property taxes on it for decades, and it’s just not worth it to continue. The last realtor I contacted said it would cost me more than the land’s value to sell it.

Does anyone know how I can give it away? :mad:

If I stop paying the taxes, what are the consequences?

This didn’t answer your question about stopping taxes, but it may be useful. It seems that there is a good deal of vacant land going cheap there.

I am not a lawyer etc. But I imagine that unless you have other assets in the Bahamas then the government will eventually just seize the land for lack of payment.

This thread sent me on an interesting diversion from work into real estate in the bahamas. there is some nice stuff available! might not like the living costs though. everything is near some luxury resort or spa or golf course (or all three)

on your question, I’d be seriously questioning the agents advice you’ve gotten so far. i read a few pages, and it seems whilst the transaction costs are high, they are mostly graduated on a percentage basis. So unless all agents enforce strict minimums then I can’t see how it will cost you more to sell than its worth, unless its actually worth next-to-nothing. some info:

so you’ve been paying land tax for years, what is the valuation of the property and how accurate is that to market? Most jurisdictions will have valuations that are typically slightly conservative relative to actual market - but particularly bad market conditions may mean official valuations are lagging with respect to market movement or are being artificially propped to protect gov’t income or ‘reputation’. Not sure if Bahamas is in that category generally, or your parcel of land specifically?

Another outlandish option is to gain an exemption so you can hold the land without paying that pesky property tax :slight_smile: I’m sure you can somehow shoehorn your property into one of the following categories. I am thinking build a shanty and get it re-qualified as owner occupied which makes you exempt from yearly tax and additionally reduces the real estate commission when it comes time to sell

On a similar note I own some empty land in Tasmania in Australia. I got it put under 90 percent conservation covenant. I got a reduction which means I pay almost no land tax on it and it still has a possibility to have a home built it one day (with certain conditions).

Bob++ and coremelt, thanks so much for your responses.

Richox, I agree that it doesn’t sound right. I’ve emailed the realtor and asked him to
itemize the fees.

In 2009, the value was supposedly $6K. Today they say $2500.
I love your creativity in thinking of getting an exemption! But I don’t see how I could convince them I was occupying anything there.
But it’s fun thinking about ideas for charities or “public services.” :smiley:

Realtors certainly aren’t excited about listing it –- one told me there’s just no demand for it, and there are about 1000 other parcels like it.

Coremelt, I wonder how a conservation covenant would apply to sand? :frowning:

For some values of next to nothing, there have to be strict minimums. I remember this issue in the 1990s in rural Kansas or Oklahoma. A parcel worth less than $10k couldn’t be sold in the normal way. It wasn’t worth any professional’s time even on a 10% commission.

You either had to do it yourself in something resembling a used car private sale (literally putting up a for sale flyer in the feed store) or have dozens of adjacent lots consolidated. The land was effectively worthless because some promoter had chopped it up into sub-acre lots and sold it sight unseen to remote investors. There was no access to the individual lots, no roads, no easements. The local county assessors then put an absurd valuation on it. When everyone stopped paying the taxes and ALL the parcels were foreclosed upon, the count could sell the land at auction as farmland. Which is all it would ever be.

I’m wondering if the OP’s situation is similar.

you bought land which is only sand???

Since this involves advice and legal issues, let’s move it to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Is it on the beach? If so, I can’t imagine that beachfront property in the Bahamas would have no takers.

Sure, but what does it cost you to keep it? It may still be worth it to you to sell it, even that is a net expense.

Is there perhaps a way to forfeit title to the government?

Per Richox’s note I am a commercial real estate agent. Based on the values discussed even at a 10% raw land percentage the commission on the sale of a $2500 to 5000 parcel is almost literally lunch money after splits (ie 2500 x .10 = 250 /2 agents (one buy one sell) = 125 each then they split with their broker = 62.50 each. In no case would this be worth most agent’s time to fool with. They would be losing money in time spent as soon as they touched your property.

It’s not so much the transaction costs are more than the land is worth to whomever, it’s that the commission is so absurdly small after splits it’s pointless (from the agent’s perspective) to do the work necessary to ramp it up for sale when there is other stuff that will actually be renumerative to work on.

I hope you get a polite response to your request for itemization email on your $2500-$6000 parcel. Many agents would just laugh, delete it and move on.

If it is anything like some land in South Florida, there may be no water, power or access available. There are some subs in Florida that have been plotted out 50+ years ago, and sold several times, never getting developed. Realators don’t even want to list them.

Thanks, everyone!

GaryT, I pay $100 a year in taxes (not much, but considering that I don’t think the
land will ever appreciate significantly)… For years, the tax was $15 and then they suddenly increased it. But apparently that wasn’t due to the land’s value appreciating.

Astro, the realtor wrote back:

“The legal fees will run you into $1500 our commission is $1000. Then you have VAT & Taxes on top of this.”

There are many islands in the Bahamas. I was stationed for a year at a LORAN station on San Salvador. We had water. We had a well and a catchment to collect rainwater. The main Hospital Corpsman type of thing our corpsman did was a daily check on the quality of our water and I suppose add stuff as needed to make it safe for drinking. Locals would send kids with buckets or coolers to us and we’d give them some ice. We had electricity. There were 3 diesel powered generators in our Signal & Power building. One was online, one was on standby, and one was the spare. They gave us power for the LORAN equipment, the galley, lighting, well, everything. There wasn’t any other electricity going to our corner of the island. Nearby locals used candles, oil, and Coleman type lanterns for lighting. There was running water and electricity in Cockburn, the town on the island. There was also power and water at the retired US Navy station from the Mercury/Gemini days. It had been bought by a group of colleges in the Finger Lakes area of NY as a remote campus for their Marine Biology students. I imagine they got their power and water the same way we made ours.

The thing about the Bahamas is even if some land is cheap, not much is available there. You want to build there, you’re going to have to arrange to have lumber, nails, stuff like that brought in. Hope you like sea showers too.

Instead of selling, could you lease the land? Esp if it is for commercial farming.
Heck, pay somebody to plant a couple of trees.
The farming operation doesn’t need to make money (maybe), just has to cost < $100 / year.


That quoted flat rate # $ 1000 commission on a $2500-$6000 sale is a pretty reliable indicator of how much they do not want your business.

Talk to the neighboring property owners. See if they want to buy. You can suggest they can have it for free if they pay all legal fees to transfer the land.

How would I find someone who wants to lease it?

And the answer may be obvious, but how would I find out who the neighboring property
owners are?