The picturesque setting of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) shapes a luxurious backdrop for your property investment, whether intended for personal or business use.
Successfully navigating through the intricate procedures involved can prove challenging, particularly if you are a foreign incoming investor. Our expertise allows us to comprehensively guide you through the significant stages involved in every part of the transaction with clarity.
During our 25 years of experience in the BVI property market, we have been involved in the vast majority of key development projects and investments, including Elizabeth Beach Resort, Scrub Island, a chain of BVI boutique hotels, and the recent sale of Little Dix Bay.
Commercial Property, Business Advisory & Regulatory
With your intentions as O’Neal Webster’s focus, we keep abreast of the latest legislative proposal and changes that can affect your business, tailoring our knowledge to your specific needs.
Market entry into the BVI can appear complex and tightly regulated; our attorneys frequently advise on a broad range of regulatory issues including licensing, planning, regulatory approvals, general and specialist contracts, staffing/employment matters, strategic alliances, and joint ventures.
Our attorneys have explicit knowledge of commercial property developments and regularly advise clients from concept phase through to construction and resulting revenue (whether sales and/or rental).
We work with you through all phases of development including title verification, planning and design approval, corporate structuring, and financing. The firm has represented international hotel groups and other tourism related developments in the BVI, encompassing the architecture of 5-star luxury resorts and boutique hotel establishments.
With extensive experience in advising both Landlords and Tenants on resort leases, sub-lease agreements, mortgage agreements, environmental laws, seabed leases, leasing, employment matters, and financial issues, this vast pool of knowledge becomes yours.
We regularly act for individuals or entities selling land or property in the BVI. As a firm with local roots, we are in the unique position to provide time-sensitive advice, anticipating your requirements and presenting effective solutions.
When selling a property, the potential purchaser will call upon the Seller to provide disclosure as to title verification and due diligence on the restrictive covenants, easements, and third party rights affecting the property. It is sensible to ensure this procedure is performed correctly to protect the Seller from any future law suits for failure of disclosure.
The British Virgin Islands, a favourite for both sailors and celebrities due to the calm, pristine waters, and exclusive breathtaking-beauty, remains a perfect destination for your practical, invaluable property investment.
Our attorneys have unrivalled expertise in advising a diverse range of investors on property purchases. O’Neal Webster’s clients rely on our knowledge, aptitude, and efficiency to ensure avoidance of any legal complications with your purchase. The British Virgin Islands has a robust legal system that follows English Common law and local enacted legislation; therefore, our attorneys remain current and conversant on all property related issues to serve your interests.
Common legal considerations when purchasing property
Purchasing property in the BVI has common aspects, such as obtaining a Non-Belonger Land Holding Licence should you be an overseas investor, liaising directly with the Land Registry, and various governmental departments. Such procedures will be greatly eased through our legal support.
Some property owners encounter problems with their purchase because they did not seek appropriate legal advice. We have outlined below some legal aspects of the process where we can readily assist you during your transaction.
Letter of Intent
Once you have selected your dream home, you will be required to pay a security deposit to the Estate Agent and sign an initial letter of intent confirming the agreed terms of sale. It is therefore prudent for each party to have BVI legal representation from the outset of the transaction as that initial letter of intent can be binding if the terms are sufficiently definite, clear, and final.
Due Diligence – Seller title verification
Title verification of the Seller should not be underestimated as resolving title issues has halted even the largest of projects. We investigate title due diligence as to ownership and encumbrances that affect title of the property, such as restrictive covenants, easements, and third party rights. We can also carry out precautionary measures on your behalf to freeze title between exchange and closing, and between closing and registration to shield your interest.
This harps back to the old Latin saying caveat emptor meaning ‘let the buyer beware’. The purchaser should execute a thorough examination for any defects by carrying out assessments and surveys; this can include a termite inspection, structural survey, land survey, and title search reports. Should a defect be discovered, we can readily guide you through the remedial options available to you.
Structure options for real estate
Ownership structure options for holding real estate is an important consideration, which has a deep impact on tax implications, succession rules, and legal considerations. Structuring such solutions can include formulating a real estate holding vehicle which can prevent future complications. Types of structuring solutions includes companies, limited partnerships, management buyouts, trusts, joint ventures, and real estate funds. Furthermore, our attorneys are well versed in assisting with management buyouts.
To limit tax liabilities upon death, thought should be given to basic estate planning and succession. Stamp duty on transfers—even under a Will—can be significant as duties are calculated on a percentage of the property value. Property can be held by a company, corporation, LLC or in a trust, which facilitates the distribution of the property to your heirs without the cost, delay, and publicity of probate, and can reduce duties and taxes payable. Holding property in a joint tenancy, where the property automatically passes to the surviving owner or owners on death, is another option. However, it should be noted that BVI property cannot be held by a partnership in any form, even an LLP or LLLP.
Relevant building approval & consents
Most purchasers find it reassuring to know that the BVI still has a sensible level of legislation to ensure any build is properly constructed. Any development process must be approved by the Town and Country Planning Department responsible for compliance with Development Guidelines and by the Building Authority responsible for ensuring that building conforms with relevant building code guidelines. Prior to commencing building work, the Building Authority must approve engineering and architectural layouts. Further consideration must be given if situated on the coastline; the property is required to pass the Environmental Screening Process.