There are two kinds of land titles in Jamaica. A common law title is a certificate of ownership used for unregistered lands. However, this is not a full title to the land. Nonetheless, a common law title can be upgraded to a registered title. This registered title is both legal and official. The Registration of Titles Act stipulates that the original must be retained at the Office of Land and Titles, while a duplicate is provided to the proprietor.
The Agreement for Sale is then prepared, normally by the vendor’s lawyer. It is usually signed by both parties either at the agency (if a real estate agent is employed) or in the presence of a lawyer. The transaction becomes official and binding upon signing the agreement. At the same time, the buyer will be required to pay a deposit of about 10% - 20% of the selling price, depending on what has been agreed upon, and to pay his share of the stamp duty on the transaction.
It is normal for payment to be made in a number of installments.
It is important to note that foreign currency remittance for the purpose of purchasing real estate is prohibited without the approval of the Bank of Jamaica. Consent from the Exchange Control Department of the Bank of Jamaica is required prior to engaging in purchase agreements.
After signing the sale agreement, an application should be submitted to the Office of the Registrar of Titles, and government duties paid. An important reminder: documents on conveyance of land must be stamped within 30 days of signing, to avoid substantial penalties.
The transfer of the deed signals the completion of the sale. If the purchase is in cash, the time it takes to complete will depend largely on the participating entities. On the other hand, if a mortgage is involved, the completion can last up to three months or more from the date of signing.
The whole process of registering a property can take around 42 days to complete.