The Insider's Guide to Buying Property in Puerto Rico
Overview - The Puerto Rico Real Estate Market
Like many destinations in the Caribbean, the island of Puerto Rico (together with smaller sister islands Vieques, Culebra and Mona) offers spectacular white sand beaches, reefs ideal for snorkeling and diving, world-class surfing conditions, majestic mountains and forests such as the El Yunque National Forest and a unique history and culture blending American, Latin and Caribbean traditions.
What sets the island apart from its Caribbean neighbors is its status as an unincorporated self-governing territory of the USA. As a US territory, Puerto Ricans are citizens of the USA, English is an official language, the territory is subject to US federal laws and the official currency is the US Dollar. Citizens of the USA can therefore travel from the mainland without a passport and enjoy the right to live in Puerto Rico.
The allure of a Caribbean island combined with the security that comes with being a territory of the USA has established Puerto Rico as one of the top tourist destinations in the region, with a vibrant economy and high quality infrastructure. For property buyers, this unique combination offers peace of mind to invest in Puerto Rico real estate with confidence and has provided the foundations for Puerto Rico’s sophisticated luxury real estate market.
Additional stimulus has come in the form of a range of tax incentives for high net worth individuals and businesses which have succeeded in luring affluent property buyers from the mainland and beyond. Several prestigious resort developments hug the island’s stunning coast offering high quality homes alongside golf courses and condos overlooking the beaches which come with access to world-class amenities.
While Puerto Rico has much to offer investors, the territory has also faced many a challenge too, including Hurricane Maria which caused severe damage to the island in 2017. With strength and determination the island has slowly rebuilt since then and the property market is now showing strong signs of rebounding with demand once again surging, prices increasing and the number of transactions rising considerably.
“With its golden sand beaches and world-class surfing conditions, rich history and culture and advantageous tax incentives, Puerto Rico is an investor-friendly destination like no other”
The allure of a Caribbean island with the security of being a territory of the USA with an American legal framework and a US Dollar-based economy.
Range of highly attractive tax incentives in place designed to lure high net worth individuals and businesses to Puerto Rico.
Easily accessible from the US mainland via short, daily, non-stop direct flights.
High quality lifestyle with year-round sunshine, some of the best beaches in the world, excellent hotels, challenging championship golf courses and diverse dining, shopping and entertainment options.
Sophisticated infrastructure with the busiest airport in the Caribbean, a state of the art port and good quality roads.
Strong luxury real estate market with high levels of demand for homes and condos at the top end of the market.
Breathtaking attractions, including the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay on Vieques, beautiful beaches on Culebra, the El Yunque rainforest and historical Old San Juan (a UNESCO World Heritage site).
Buying Process, Fees & Taxes
- Can foreigners buy property in Puerto Rico?
Yes, foreigners can buy property in Puerto Rico and the Government of Puerto Rico welcomes investment from overseas buyers. There are no restrictions on foreign buyers acquiring real estate in Puerto Rico. Title can be acquired fee simple (pleno dominio) and property can be purchased in the name of an individual or a corporation.
- Buying process
Buying property in Puerto Rico is a relatively simple process, which typically involves the following steps:
- Begin your property search.
- Find your perfect property and submit a written offer.
- Once you have made an offer on a property and that offer has been accepted, you will typically need to pay a deposit of 5% to 10% which will be held in escrow.
- You should engage an attorney to assist you with the buying process.
- You will need to sign a public deed for the purchase of the property which should be prepared by a notary, executed in their presence and then filed at the Registry of Property of Puerto Rico.
- The transaction will be complete upon transfer of the balance of the purchase price and payment of all required taxes and fees.
- Fees & taxes
Registration and Filing Fees
Several fees must be paid by the buyer to different offices including the Municipal Revenues Collection Center (CRIM), Treasury Department and Registry of Property of Puerto Rico.
These fees typically amount to less than 0.5% of the purchase price.
The sale and purchase deed must be prepared by a notary whose fees are covered by the seller.
The maximum allowable fee is 1% of the value of the property for the first US $500,000 plus 0.5% of the value over $500,000.
We would recommend you seek the advice of a respected local attorney to assist with the transaction. Legal fees typically amount to 0.5% to 1% of the purchase price or, in some cases, a fixed or hourly fee.
Each party covers the cost of their own legal fees.
In Puerto Rico real property is subject to an annual real property tax which varies from 8.03% to 11.83% according to value and location of the property.
Latest Real Estate Listings in Puerto Rico
Residency & Citizenship
- How long can a foreign citizen stay in Puerto Rico?
As Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the USA, US citizens do not require a passport or a visa to visit Puerto Rico.
Citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries including the UK and member countries of the EU who wish to visit the USA (including Puerto Rico) for a vacation or on business must apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) prior to departure.
- How do you become a resident of Puerto Rico?
American citizens are free to move to Puerto Rico without the need to produce any new documents such as work visas. Citizens of other countries who would like to become a resident of Puerto Rico are required to secure a resident alien status, a work visa, a student visa and/or a temporary visa as is the case in the US mainland and US federal immigration regulations apply in Puerto Rico.
To become a resident of Puerto Rico an individual must spend at least 183 days during the tax year (January 1st – December 31st) in Puerto Rico and have a physical residence on the island. Becoming a resident of Puerto Rico can offer significant tax advantages under Act 60-2019 which consolidated various incentives introduced under Acts 20 and Act 22.
Find out more: How to Get Puerto Rico Residency
- How do you become a citizen of Puerto Rico?
As Puerto Rico is a territory of the USA, Puerto Ricans are citizens of the USA.
A foreign national aged over 18 who has lawfully resided in the USA with a Permanent Resident (Green) Card for a minimum of 5 years (3 years in the case of a spouse of a US citizen), is able to understand English and has passed the Naturalization Test may be eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalization.
Mortgages in Puerto Rico
Looking for financing to fund the purchase of property in Puerto Rico?
Contrary to popular misconception, it is possible for foreign nationals looking to invest in Puerto Rico real estate to apply for a mortgage.
Our partner – a very well respected international financial organization – offers mortgages for qualifying non-residents buying, building or improving a second home in Puerto Rico.
For more information, see our page on: Caribbean mortgages.
How to Get There
There are direct flights to Puerto Rico from various cities across the United States, Canada and Europe (Spain).
Most international flights to Puerto Rico arrive at San Juan’s Aeropuerto Internacional de Luis Munoz Marin Airport – a major regional transport hub.
From the USA, fly from Atlanta (Delta), Charlotte (US Airways), Chicago or Miami (American Airlines), Newark (JetBlue) or Philadelphia (United Airlines).
From Europe, there are direct flights to San Juan from London (British Airways), Madrid (Iberia) and Frankfurt (Condor).
- Miami to Puerto Rico 2h 40m
- Atlanta to Puerto Rico 3h 40m
- Newark to Puerto Rico 4h 05m
- Toronto to Puerto Rico 4h 40m
- Chicago to Puerto Rico 4h 55m
- Madrid to Puerto Rico 8h 20m
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