Increase in foreign real estate agents carrying out local transactions illegally, notes BREA

The Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) has seen an increase in foreign real estate agents carrying out transactions illegally in The Bahamas, the association’s President Christine Wallace-Whitfield told Guardian Business yesterday.

That realization prompted the association to run an official notice in a local newspaper regarding the “legal requirement to engage Bahamian firms in real estate transactions”.

The notice outlines the procedures and law that should be followed if a foreign real estate agent should want to conduct a transaction in The Bahamas.

Key to the notice is that the “sale or purchase of developed or undeveloped property, private islands and cays, commercial leases, resort development or appraisals of same in The Bahamas, must include the participation of a BREA-licensed member”.

“This notice is not intended to discourage non-Bahamian agents, brokers or firms, but simply to remind those who represent sellers, introduce prospective buyers or engage in appraisals that they are required by law to do so in cooperation with a BREA-registered firm, or face a penalty as stipulated in the regulations,” the notice states.

“BREA recognizes the value that others bring and acknowledges the role of non-Bahamians who have global contacts.”

Wallace-Whitfield said it was necessary to emphasize that these illegal transactions by foreigners and unregistered locals have to end in the best interest of Bahamian real estate agents who follow the law.

“There’s definitely an increase of foreigners coming in and we have definitely had complaints about foreign appraisers coming in, that’s been quite challenging,” she said.

“This is our livelihood and we can’t do it when we go over there (U.S.).”

Wallace-Whitfield contended that the real estate sector needs the assistance of the law fraternity to help guard against unregistered local agents and foreign agents carrying out real estate transactions through law firms.

“In order for a deal to close you really need a Bahamian-licensed agent involved and we’re finding that some of these transactions are going through without a BREA-licensed agent,” Wallace-Whitfield said.

“If everybody could be on board that would be great, because we’re such a small country and we have to come together, we have to stand firm, protect our laws and protect our country and our Bahamians because this is our livelihood and it’s unfair when people are doing illegal transactions like this.”

She said it has been increasingly frustrating to hear about these kinds of deals being done, adding that in the cases of an illegal transaction, BREA is not in a position to protect the buyer or seller.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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