|10 simple tips that can keep you out of trouble in the Dominican real estate market:
- Everybody can buy real estate in the Dominican Republic - no residence or local partners are required. You can buy as a private person or use an offshore company.
- Be careful with estate agents and realtors in the Dominican Republic as they do not need a license to operate and they have no malpractice insurance. Your deposits are not covered by any laws or realtor associations.
- Before signing any contracts or paying any money you must use a trusted lawyer to make a "deep" local title search. It's not enough to check if the title is "Clean", the ownership history must also be investigated as there has been and still is a lot of fraud with titles in the Dominican Republic.
- If you are buying land you must use an independent surveyors to re-measure the land and confirm the position(the lawyers know which one to use in the area). Do NOT buy any land with squatters on it and make sure that no squatters are moving into your land as it's impossible to remove them later on.
- Be extremely careful with fancy promising pre-construction projects on the Dominican Republic. Many promoters and projects are running out of cash which are delaying or even stopping the projects. There are no laws protecting you and no guarantee that the project will ever finish - many buyers has been left stranded in the Dominican Republic.
- NEVER pay any cash or make any transfer directly to Dominican estate agents, promoters or timeshare sellers. Always use escrow accounts together with a trusted lawyer or a title guarantee company recommended by us.
- If you are buying a property for renovation or land for building a new home. You have chosen one of the most difficult projects in your life. There are no master education in the Dominican Republic - all construction workers are from Haiti and they are all painters, plumbers and electricians except the fact that none of them have had any real education in their field of work!
- The cheapest way to build is to find a good local builder with a lot of references(you must see his work and talk to the owners!). You must check the work daily and pay him every Saturday. You should buy all the building materials yourself from HACHE and OCHOA - don't use small local hardware stores - it's worthwhile to shop around and get discounts - you will save a lot of money! The only problem with the small builder is that he can only promise you a lot, but in reality he will not be able to offer any warranty on his work and you will never get anything out of suing him - thats why you must check everything yourself!
- NEVER EVER pay any money in advance to builders or for building materials. There are thousands of examples of cheap builders on the island who ask 10% in advance or just USD 500 and you will never see them again!
- The best way is to use a trusted lawyer to prepare a contract with a wellknown and trusted building company. That contract will stipulate payments and penalties plus keep an amount of 5% on escrow to fix problems that might happen under the 2 year warranty period that Dominican Watchdog recommends.
If you follow these simple rules then property investments in the Dominican Republic is still cheap compared to other Caribbean locations. Just stay away from real estate projects that are under development and areas with bad infrastructures as blackouts is one of the biggest problems for home owners in the DR.
The following information is from the United States Travel.State.Gov website and can be found under Dominican Republic - Country specific information:
Real Estate: Real estate investments in the Dominican Republic require a high level of caution, as property rights are irregularly enforced and investors often encounter problems in receiving clear title to land. Consultation with an attorney is recommended before signing documents or closing on any real estate transactions. Real estate investments by U.S. citizens have been the subject of both legal and physical takeover attempts. Absentee landlords and absentee owners of undeveloped land are particularly vulnerable. Investors should seek solid property title and not just a “carta de constancia,” which is often confused by foreigners with a title. An official land registry measurement (also known as 'deslinde' or 'mensura catastral') is also desirable for the cautious overseas investor. Investors should also consider purchasing title insurance. Squatters, sometimes supported by governmental or non-governmental organizations, have invaded properties belonging to U.S. citizens, threatening violence and blocking the owners from entering their property. In at least one instance, a U.S. citizen landowner was physically assaulted by squatters. Several U.S. citizens with long-standing expropriation disputes with the Dominican Government are still without compensation.... click here to read more important information about crimes in the Dominican Republic
Blacklisted Dominican Estate Agents & Developers
Be careful with the following real estate agents or developers in the Dominican Republis. ALWAYS use escrow and title guarantee company www.stewartdr.com.
Villas & Castillos operating in Casa de Campo, Juan Dolio and Santo Domingo reason: the Owner
Tomas Oscar Valenzuela Ponsis issued checks from his US acc. for USD 300,000 to a seller of a Penthouse in Juan Dolio. There are insufficient funds on his account to cover the checks. According to the local tax register does he not own anyhting in his own name in the Dominican Republic.
Punta Perla- Ricardo Miranda Miret - Punta Perla in Cabeza de Toro(Punta Cana area), Dominican Republic - Hundreds of investors has lost money on Ricardo Miranda in Spain, Morocco and the Domincan Republic. Is has teamed up with a Las Americas Title Service and below we have a special warning against them:
EDEN CARIBE (by Knut Willand) - There has been several complaints over his project in Barahona. Do NOT believe the 280% returns offered. Mr Willand can't provide any guaranties! In regards to land ownership it's not even clear what exactly is Mr Knut Wiland's part. For the more than 10 years this Norwegian, Knut Willand has operated in the Dominican Republic and his main business was importing sindenfil tablets A.K.A. "fake Viagra" from India.
Special Watchlist on Cap Cana due to their financial problems:
Domincian Watchdog don't believe Cap Cana is a safe investment in their current situation. The are too many lawsuits agaist them and they have many unfinished developments inside the project. Cap Cana is now giving huge discounts to people for not walking away from their contracts, but at the same time they are not paying their own part of the service fees to the condo association for all the empty units making private owners very angry!
Dominican Watchdog is tracking any promotion of Cap Cana on the internet and are contacting agents who are spamming Google with in correct information in order to try to get clients to Cap Cana. DW warn potential buyers against:
FM Properties from Marbella in Spain - Their website is full of incorrect information and dreams about Cap Cana, but little of the reality out there. They are spamming Google with useless articles to generate traffic to their promotion of Cap Cana. Dominican Watchdog wrote to them at several occations and suggested they promoted Casa de Campo instead as that luxury resort recently won a prestegious international award for being the Worlds Best Golf Resort.
The goal of Dominican Watchdog is International Consumer Protection(ICP) in regards to Domincian Republic. We don't charge for advice, just write us.
Maplecroft’s in-depth Country Risk Report on the Dominican Republic offers high-level analysis and maps of the governance framework; the regulatory and business environment; political violence; human rights; and the environment.
Corruption remains pervasive in the Dominican Republic, with irregularities, bribery and other corrupt practices a particular risk when dealing with public administration agencies and officials. The current administration is perceived to be permissive of (if not complicit in) this environment. Companies are exposed to high levels of corruption, both through their local supply chains and as they engage in governmental contracts. As a result, foreign investors face legal, reputational and financial risks if allegations of corruption emerge in relation to their dealings with officials or local partners and suppliers.
Rule of law is not effectively enforced and poses serious risks to foreign companies and investors operating in the country. The main hindrances emerge from the ample power of the executive branch, widespread corruption in the public sector, and the politicisation of justice. Foreign companies face significant uncertainty when dealing with the judiciary. They could potentially be at risk of unfair proceedings in the judicial process, as irregularities and undue influence from other branches of government take place, often with impunity. In addition, weak rule of law prevents companies from relying on the enforcement of contracts and on the enforcement of dispute settlement.
- The Spanish hotel chain Grupo Barceló on Wednesday joined a growing choir of foreign companies which have complained of a lack of requested legal security for foreign investment, just two months after a similar complaint by the Ambassador from the United Kingdom.......
And the British ambassador slams the country on lack of investment security and cited a company he said recently shut its doors after being extorted..... (UPDATE) - Dominican business leaders rally behind the UK Ambassador..... (Update 2) - High court to probe judge’s possible link to UK Ambassador’s extortion claim....
Arturo del Tiempo, Torre Atiemar and 1200kg of cocaine sent from the Dominican Republic to Spain is the probably just the top of the iceberg behind the recent years construction boom in Santo Domingo. What's more interesting is that President Lionel Fernandez has stated that this project was a model for foreign investments in his country.......
INVESTOR WARNING - Major League Baseball player Julio Lugo, swindled out of RD$50.0 million (US$1.2 million) in the Dominican Republic. “This sends a bad message not only to Major Leagues players, but also to foreign investors afraid of investing their money in the country, fearing that what happened me can happen to them.” He said.....
The head of the East Region Hotels and Tourist Projects Association yesterday called the Higüey (Punta Cana and Bavaro) Titles Registrar “disorder and mafias” which creates uncertainty, threatens and scares away foreign investment......
Around 100 Dominicans who invested in apartments and houses in their country say they’ve been swindled by two ex officials of the Dominican Government. This is not the first time a Dominican tourist minister defrauded investors for millions of dollars......
Dominican Watchdog Note: This is just a few cases, there are hundreds of investment fraud cases in the DR and foreign investors are not likely to ever see their money again - Over 300 Million gone from Investors in Punta Cana area!!!
The President has promoted and financed one of two project with the national banks money..... What was there in it for him?
You should avoid any lawsuits in the Dominican Republic - read why!
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