British Virgin Islands Real Estate
The Virgin Islands — more popularly known as the British Virgin Islands (BVI) — is a British overseas territory located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico. While its official name is simply the “Virgin Islands,” the prefix “British” is commonly used to distinguish it from its neighboring American territory.
The territory is comprised of four principal islands (Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke), along with 32 smaller islands and islets, of which more than half are uninhabited. The capital and main port is in Road Town, which is located on Tortola — the largest of the islands and home to over 80% of the entire population.
A sparsely populated territory of less than 40,000 inhabitants, the British Virgin Islands is considered one of the most prosperous economies in the Caribbean region, thanks to its robust financial services and tourism industries.
Luxury and exclusivity at its finest
As one of the world’s premier sailing destinations, the British Virgin Islands is a haven for water sports enthusiasts because of the myriad of activities that can be experienced here — from island-hopping on a crewed charter yacht, to exploring the colorful coves and massive boulders of The Baths in Virgin Gorda, swimming and snorkeling in the crystal blue waters that surround Tortola’s famous beaches (such as Cane Garden Bay, Smugglers Cove and Brewer’s Bay), diving for shipwrecks in Anegada (over 300 to explore, including the RMS Rhone which has become the center of its very own marine park), or just chilling on the powdery soft sands of White Bay in Jost Van Dyke.
Despite its growing popularity, the British Virgin Islands has remained tranquil and secluded, making it a preferred destination for high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) who are captivated by the luxury, exclusivity, and privacy its islands have to offer. This has greatly contributed to the territory’s growing reputation as one of the region’s most sought-after luxury property destination.
Virgin Gorda, in particular, is home to some of the most opulent residences and waterfront properties in the Caribbean and is ranked among the top islands where rich people love to travel, as well as to invest in their own piece of paradise.
Aside from the BVI’s magnificent natural beauty, stable economy, and high standard of living, overseas property investors are drawn to the tax benefits available to non-residents or foreigners who invest here. Being a tax-neutral jurisdiction, the territory does not impose taxes on income, capital gains, or withholding taxes on companies and individuals.
What foreign property buyers should know
While the British Virgin Islands welcomes the growing interest of overseas property investors, there are certain legal requirements and restrictions that come with this privilege. Working with an experienced property lawyer specializing in BVI real estate is highly recommended to make the process easier and more efficient.
All foreigners and expats, including British Citizens, whether individual or company, need to obtain a Non-Belongers Land Holding License (NBLHL) for the lease or purchase of property in the British Virgin Islands. Application may be done in person or through an authorized representative. There is a non-refundable application fee (US $200 for individuals and US $500 for companies) and the turnaround time can take anywhere from three to nine months.
Agreements for property purchases are made conditional to acquiring an NBLHL. A purchase and sale agreement is typically provided by the vendor´s attorney with the provision that the sale is contingent upon the buyer obtaining a NBLHL. The contract is signed by both parties, upon which the prospective buyer pays a 10% deposit to the vendor´s agent, to be held in escrow until closing.
If buying undeveloped or partly developed land, the buyer must agree to build within two to three years and commit to an expenditure of not less than US $250,000.
If buying residential property with the intent of renting it out, the buyer must request for the right to rent upon applying for an NBLHL, which is subject to approval. However, if the property had a previous rental license from the government then there is a higher chance of securing a permission to rent.
Aside from standard requirements (such as personal references and financial statements), applicants are also expected to submit additional documents that include four consecutive media advertisements relating to the particulars of the property to be purchased, a survey map of the property and its surroundings, proof of rental history, letters of intent from different stakeholders, copies of the valuation report, among others.
A comprehensive list of requirements can be found on this form provided by the BVI government. The fee for the grant of the license is US $600 for individuals and US $500 for companies.
Once the sale is closed, other fees are settled. These would include stamp duty for property transfers (between 4% – 12%), registration fees, legal fees, agent’s fees, and payments for other services related to the transaction.
Property development on the upswing
As the demand for property continues to escalate, more and more entities are seeking to undertake large-scale construction projects and developments in the British Virgin Islands. Reports from the Town & Country Planning Department indicate that the office has received over 250 development applications in 2022 — many of which were for large projects, in addition to the numerous applications for multifamily homes and apartment buildings.
Available property for sale in the BVI typically includes magnificent waterfront residences, as well as hillside homes with breathtaking views of the sea and neighboring islands. Also in high demand are homes with access to private marinas, as to be expected from a world-class sailing paradise.
One of the most popular private developments in the BVI is Oil Nut Bay — a sprawling resort community on Virgin Gorda that is home to 117 extravagant villas with concierge services, as well as undeveloped land. Among its prized features are two modern helipads and a state-of-the-art marina with 93 berths that are perfectly situated in the natural harbor of Deep Bay.
Just a mile and a half off the coast of Tortola is Scrub Island, an exclusive private island with a collection of lavish hillside villas that come with the benefits of bespoke amenities, services, and security — offering overseas investors the convenience of owning a home in the islands without any of the challenges that come with building and maintaining foreign property.
In Tortola, some of the most impressive properties on the market can be found in the areas of Cane Garden Bay, Brewers Bay, Little Bay, and Smugglers Cove, where homes with panoramic vistas are priced in the upwards of US $2,000,000.
Different types of properties for sale in the BVI can be found on Mansion Global, Luxury Estate, propertyskipper.com, and other property websites, as well as on the websites of independent realtors and real estate companies that operate on the islands.
Find your own piece of paradise
Are you ready to invest in your own piece of paradise in the British Virgin Islands?
Our team of trusted ERA real estate professionals will be more than happy to assist you!
For more information about working with ERA and for interested franchisees, please inquire below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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