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April 2015
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Things to Know About Buying Real Estate in Cuba

Things to Know About Buying Real Estate in Cuba
The diplomatic opening between Washington and Havana is creating a
frenzy of speculation over what might happen in Cuba if Americans can
legally buy real estate again. But as a gold-rush mentality takes hold,
foreigners need to proceed with caution. Here’s what to know:

1. If you’re an American citizen, you can’t
Until Washington’s 54-year-old embargo is lifted, a private citizen
investing in Cuban property would be exposed to criminal penalties under
the Trading With the Enemy Act.

2. Does this also apply to Cuban-Americans?
It’s a little more complicated, but the answer is essentially the same.
Cuban-Americans can send $8,000 a year to relatives and others in Cuba,
and they can transport up to $10,000 each time they travel to the
island. Some Cuban homes are so cheap that it wouldn’t take long to
accumulate enough cash to close a deal. But if a Cuban-American buys
property, that could still be construed as a violation of U.S. law.

3. Are there any Cuban laws that could trip up a would-be foreign investor?
Boy are there. It has only been a few years since Cuba started allowing
Cuban citizens to buy and sell their own homes, and the government is
still trying to keep tight control over the market. Cubans can’t have
more than two homes, a primary residence and a vacation house. And in
all but a few cases, buyers need to be permanent Cuban residents.

4. Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that I’m a Frenchman who
falls in love with a nice Cuban woman. What are my options?
First, mazel tov! If you marry her and live in Cuba, you can buy a home
in her name. But if she divorces you, she gets the house. There are
horror stories circulating in Havana about foreigners who have gone
through multiple spouses and multiple homes.

5. So what exactly can a non-American, non-Cuban purchase in Cuba?
There are a handful of Havana apartment buildings developed around two
decades ago that foreigners can buy and sell freely. There’s a
penthouse apartment with sweeping views on sale right now for $1.2
million. And the Cuban government appears to have decided to move
forward with a long-delayed golf resort that plans to sell villas,
townhouses and apartments to foreigners and locals.

Source: 5 Things to Know About Buying Real Estate in Cuba – WSJ –

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