1. If I want to list my house for sale should I list with one Agent or several Agents?
Answer: It is advisable to list with only one Agent as they will put more effort into marketing your property. This will more likely get you a quicker sale/rental if they have it exclusively.
Having several Agents handling one property leads to confusion as many ads appear for the same property, sometimes with different prices. Prospective purchasers may misinterpret these ads and visit the same property with more than one Agent.
When you list your property exclusively with one Agent, they will circulate the listing to others who work through them, giving you extensive market coverage.
2. Should I do anything to my property before putting it on the market?
Answer: It is advisable to have your property cleaned and painted and the garden tidy. If areas need serious repairs, i.e., leaks in the roof, termite damage, rust, etc., these should be repaired, not passed on to the new owner or tenant.
If you are serious about selling, it is also recommended that you start packing away the ‘clutter’ in anticipation of moving. There’s no second chance for a first impression! Your agent is the best person to advise you on how to present the property for showing the best.
3. I want to sell my property but do not know how much I should sell it for?
Answer: Everyone wants the most value for their property. Therefore, the best way to determine if you are under-selling or pricing your property out of the market is to have it evaluated. Listing your property with your agent using a guestimate selling price is not recommended. Your agent can recommend reputable evaluators who the banks accept.
4. What should I do before starting my property search?
Answer: Getting prequalified before viewing a property is a crucial step in the home-buying process. Prequalification helps you determine how much you can afford to spend on a home, and it also gives you a good idea of what kind of mortgage terms you may qualify for.
By getting prequalified, you can narrow down your search to properties that are within your budget, which saves time and effort. Additionally, prequalification can give you an advantage when it comes to making an offer on a property because it shows the seller that you are a serious buyer who has already taken steps to secure financing.
Moreover, prequalification can also help you identify any issues that may need to be addressed before you start house hunting, such as credit score or debt-to-income ratio. This gives you time to resolve any potential issues and improve your financial standing before you start making offers.
Overall, getting prequalified before viewing a property can save you time, effort, and money, while also helping you make informed decisions throughout the home-buying process.
5. What is the procedure for purchasing a property with cash?
Answer: To purchase a property with cash, a ready willing and able letter (RWA) or Bank Confirmation Letter needs to be provided from your financial institution. This document provides verification to the seller that you can purchase the property.
If purchasing through your company, Management Accounts for the last three years are required.
You will also need to complete Know Your Customer (KYC) form and Source of Funds documents.
These requests are per our legal obligations and customer due diligence requirements according to Regulation 15 and 16 of the Financial Obligation Regulation 2020 (as amended).
6. Who pays for the agreement for sale?
Answer: In real estate transactions, the party responsible for paying the costs associated with the agreement for sale can vary depending on various factors, and negotiations between the parties involved. Generally, the buyer is responsible for covering the expenses related to preparing the agreement, such as legal fees or document preparation fees.
However, it is important to note that specific arrangements can differ, and it is recommended to consult with a real estate professional or attorney for precise information based on the specific circumstances of the transaction.
7. I have paid a deposit on a property and signed an Agreement but now I have changed my mind. How do I get out of it?
Answer: This is not as easy as you may think. An agreement for Sale is a legally-binding agreement. There may be certain contingencies where cancellation is acceptable, but for any other reason, there are consequences (mainly loss of deposit), and such a decision should not be taken lightly.
Remember that the seller has taken their property off the market and may have entered into a contract to purchase another property. If you do not follow through with the purchase, your decision may affect many more people than just the seller.
8. Do I have to pay commission to the Agent if my sale has fallen through? The Attorneys have found a fault in my title and I have to refund the deposit.
Answer: From the Agent’s point of view, they were hired to find a buyer, and if their fee is due once a Sale/Purchase Agreement is signed, the fact that your title is defective is no fault of theirs. They may agree under the circumstances to compromise on a lower fee, but they have provided a service and are entitled to be paid.
9. When is Commission payable on a sale?
Answer: Once an Agent introduces a buyer and the Buyer and Seller(s) sign a Sale/Purchase Agreement, the Agent is entitled to the commission. It is recommended that the deposit paid on the sale be held in escrow until completion and the commission be paid out of the final proceeds of the transaction. This issue should be discussed with your Agent when listing the property.
There is no law governing this practice, and some Sellers still insist that the deposit is paid to them, in which case the Agent may insist on being paid at that time.
10. If I list my property for sale with an Agent and someone comes to me directly and buys it, do I owe the Agent commission?
Answer: If you signed an exclusive contract with an Agent giving them the authority to sell/rent your property, and within the agreement period, you sell it on your own, yes, the Agent is entitled to the commission. SOLD Caribbean Agents have a standard exclusive listing contract that outlines these terms and conditions. One of the terms is that anyone approaching you directly must be referred to the Agent.
If you have not signed an exclusive contract and the Agent knows that you are also listing your property to sell/rent on your own or with other Agents, then no commission is due.
11. How should offers be handled?
Answer: Serious offers should always be made in writing. An offer should outline the terms and conditions of the purchase and give a time limit. Quite often, a buyer may make a lower offer for a property to increase if the Seller turns it down. This leaves the door open for the Seller to accept another offer, sometimes for very little higher.
In the Real Estate industry, it is considered unethical to reveal one Buyer’s offer to another person in the hope of getting a higher offer, so make sure a trustworthy Agent handles your transaction. If several prospects are interested, they should all be asked to submit sealed bids, and the highest bidder closes the deal.
12. When a deposit is paid who holds it?
Answer: It is recommended that the deposit be held in escrow until the completion of the sale. Most Agents have a separate Client account where they will hold the deposit in trust, and on closing, it will be handed over to the Seller with accrued interest.
Most Sale/Purchase Agreements have a clause that if there is a problem with the title, the deposit must be refunded to the Buyer with interest. On the other hand, if the Buyer cannot close, the Seller is entitled to forfeit the deposit.
13. I have paid a deposit on a parcel of land in a new development. The project has not been completed in the contracted time and there has been no indication as to when I will be able to close. What are my rights?
Answer: Many developers pre-sell lots before construction begins. They usually will have the ‘outline approvals’ from Town & Country and a development plan showing the layout and sizes of the lots.
The developer must follow Town & Country and Regional Corporation requirements (which include roads, drainage, etc.) before receiving final approvals and a completion certificate. Usually, the Sale/Purchase Agreement allows for construction delays.
The buyer is generally given the option to cancel the deal and have their deposit refunded if they do not wish to wait, or they can re-sell to another party.
When the market is active, the land value may increase since payment of the deposit, so selling it may bring you a profit.
Discuss this with the developer if there are any stipulations about re-selling in the Agreements.
14. What is the Stamp Duty?
Answer: Stamp Duty is a tax charged by the Government on the purchase of a property or on the transfer of a property from one person to another.
HOUSE AND LAND RATES
The following rates of stamp duty SHALL BE payable on the sale or other disposal of residential properties (with dwelling house) whose values exceed $2M TTD:
- For every dollar of the first $400,000 – 3%
- For every dollar of the next $500,000 – 5%
- For every dollar thereafter – 7.5%
LAND ONLY RATES
The sale or disposal of residential land valued at $450,000 or less shall be EXEMPT from Stamp Duty.
- For every dollar of the first $200,000 in excess of $450,000 – 2%
- For every dollar of the next $200,000 in excess of $650,000 – 5%
- For every dollar thereafter in excess of $850,000 – 7%
Agricultural and Commercial stays the same.
15. I have a Lease for one year but have to break it. I have given my landlord one month’s notice but he says I will have to pay for an additional month. Is this fair?
Answer: In all fairness, if you have a Lease, you should not break it. Your Landlord has probably estimated their income for the lease term and may have made financial commitments based on this. You leaving early means they are out of pocket.
Sometimes circumstances change, and it is not feasible to stay, but remember, the landlord now has to find another tenant to take your place, which may take more than one month.
16. I want to open a small office at the house which I rented. Do I have to inform my Landlord?
Answer: Yes, you do. If you rented the property as a residence, you must get permission from the Landlord if you want to use it for any other purpose. If it is a leasehold property, his Lease may stipulate that it can only be used for ‘residential purposes, and you will then jeopardize his position with the Lessor.
17. I have rented my property and the tenant has not maintained the garden properly. What are my rights as the Landlord?
Answer: Most leases state that the Tenant is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the premises and surrounding areas, including the garden. If it has not been done, you are within your right to have it restored to its original condition and charge the Tenant accordingly. The Landlord should have his regular gardener maintain the grounds during the tenancy, with the Tenant paying him. This will usually ensure that the garden is kept the same way as before.
18. I paid a deposit and the first months' rent and both the owner and I signed a Lease. I was later informed by the Agent that the owner had changed her mind and the rental was being cancelled and my cheque returned. Is this right?
Answer: Once both parties sign a document and monetary consideration is made, this constitutes a legal contract, and you probably had grounds to enforce the agreement. Unfortunately, this would have been a lengthy (and expensive) ordeal, and you obviously would not want to live in a property where you and the landlord are in disagreement from the beginning. So, sometimes even if you are in the right, it is easier to move on.
19. When I rent a house, who is responsible for cleaning it before I move in?
Answer: It is the Landlord’s responsibility to hand over the property in a good tenantable condition, i.e., thoroughly cleaned, including the garden. The electrics and plumbing should also be checked, and all air conditioning units should be serviced or repaired before the tenant moves in.
20. What is the difference between Freehold and Leasehold?
The two types of legal ownership of a property are Leasehold and Freehold, with Freehold property being a property or land that is owned or inherited for life. Contrarily, a property is referred to as Leasehold property if purchased through a lease.
A Freehold property is one you can purchase outright for a continuous period of time, including the land and the building.
Contrarily, a lease is an agreement that grants another person or entity the right to occupy any property temporarily, and a property that is transferred through a lease is known as a Leasehold property.
|BASIS FOR COMPARISON||LEASEHOLD PROPERTY||FREEHOLD PROPERTY|
|Meaning||Leasehold means the lessor purchases the right to occupy and use the property for a stipulated tenure. E.g. 99, 199, 999-year freehold||Freehold property is the one on which the owner has full-fledged rights regarding its ownership and use.|
|Ownership||State/Government remains the ultimate owner of the estate leased.||Buyer enjoys absolute ownership.|
|Tenure||Specific tenure can be extended through renewal.||No tenure|
|Rights||Lessor has the right to use, mortgage, rent, or transfer for a limited time. However, the transfer may require the approval of the concerned authority.||The owner has the right to use, mortgage, rent and transfer.|
|Mortgage||It is not always easy to get a mortgage.||It can be easily mortgaged.|
|Alteration||Lessor does not have the right to modify or alter the property according to his wish. Alterations must be done within the terms outlined in the lease or with approval.||The owner can make alterations as desired, except for structural changes, which require the permission of the relevant authority.|
|Annual rent or Tax||Ground Rent or Lease Rent||Property Tax|
|Cost||Based on upfront cost, it is relatively cheaper; however, lease renewal charges are ongoing.||More expensive|
21. What are the Land Legal Titles in Trinidad and Tobago?
Answer: There are two different systems of land titles in Trinidad and Tobago: the Old “English” Law or Common Law Title System (“the Common Law System”), which is governed by the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, Chap. 56:01, and the Registered Land Title System (“the RPA System”) is governed by our Real Property Act, Chap. 56:02.
The Common Law System of Title, which governs unregistered land, is the more established of the two systems. According to this system, the registration of deeds, each representing a land-related transaction, allows tracking of a parcel’s title. A “Good Root of Title”—a deed that is at least twenty (20) years old and in which consideration has passed—relating to a parcel of unregistered land must be produced to be able to certify title concerning that parcel (for example, a Deed of Conveyance or a Deed of Mortgage).
The “Chain of Title” of ownership is then followed to identify the current owner, with each registered deed acting as a “link” in the chain. Under the Common Law System, good and marketable titles will be developed where each registered deed may be tracked and connected to lead directly to the individual asserting ownership without a break in the chain.
On January 1, 1946, the Real Property Ordinance, as it was then known, was amended to include the RPA System, which is effectively an implementation of the Australian Torrens System. By introducing the idea of a single estate, the RPA System is intended to simplify the complicated land title difficulties that occur under the Common Law System of two estates, the “legal” and the “equitable.” Except for fraud or adverse possession, the registered proprietor of a piece of land is said to have an “indefeasible title” under the RPA System.
Under this system, the State keeps a Register of landholdings and assures people whose names are currently on the Register of an inviolable claim. Land ownership is transmitted through title registration, unlike the Common Law System. The pertinent transfer documents are legally registered and attested to on the Certificate of Title for a particular piece of land. Each RPA plot of land has two (2) certificates of title; one of these, known as the Original Duplicate Certificate of Title, is delivered to the registered proprietor/owner of the subject parcel of land, while the other is permanently retained at the Land Registry. A Certificate of Title cannot be effectively used to record and endorse a transaction without the Original Duplicate Certificate of Title and relevant Instruments.
The RPA System is intended to give assurance on the ownership of title in Real Property by saving people the hassle and expense of going behind the Register to explore the history of the owner’s title.
The main distinction between a title under the Common Law System and an RPA Title is that, in general, under the RPA System, a person can rely on the information on the Register as accurately reflecting the rights and interests of the parties recorded there and is not required to look elsewhere when making a purchase decision. Concerning the title under the Common Law System, this is not the case, so a prospective buyer would be well advised to carry out the necessary due diligence and title searches to ensure that the potential seller has a good and marketable title to the relevant plot of property.