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$1.43 billion in real estate transactions bring record government revenues

Cayman’s real estate market broke many records last year, as both the number and the value of property transfers set record highs.

This pushed government revenues from stamp duties and fees to $121.9 million for the year, according to figures provided by the Lands and Survey Department.

The income from stamp duties on land transfers alone was $104.3 million. This was more than double the budgeted amount of $45 million. The total amount collected was $67.5 million higher than anticipated in government’s budget.

Stamp duty collections peaked during the summer and have moderated at the end of 2021, albeit at a level that still significantly exceeds the long-term average.

revenue 2021

Government coffers benefitted both from increases in the number, and value, of more than 3,200 property transfers during the year.

The 2,983 freehold transfers in 2021 were 44% more than the previous high set in 2018 (2070). The value of these transactions of $1.35 billion was $490 million higher (57%) than the previous 2018 record.

The value of all freehold, lease, leasehold and purchase agreement transactions taken together amounted to $1.43 billion last year.

“To say that the real estate market is booming in the Cayman Islands is an understatement,” wrote James Bovell, broker/owner at Re/Max in a review of the market on his website.

property transfer

He noted that real estate sales exceeded the billion-dollar mark for the first time at $1.054 billion on the bases of 1,045 transactions that closed during the year.

Although sales were initially depressed in 2020, high-value multi-million dollar properties started to sell during that year setting a trend for 2021.

Monthly sales exceeded $100 million for the first time in October 2020 and then again in March, April, May, July and August 2021, the realtor said.

Even with new developments coming onto the market, inventory is declining following last year’s breakout performance.

Bovell believes this will continue both because of the waning of the COVID effect that drove many to the property market and the slowing of many new developments as a result of supply chain issues and the cost increases for materials.

Bovell’s fellow Re/Max broker/owner Kim Lund told the Cayman Compass last month that the sales volume, price and related government revenues were coming to the peak of the current development cycle.