SELLER’S GUIDE TO LISTING PROPERTY IN THE TURKS AND CAICOS
The first step to listing your property is to choose a Real Estate Agent and Agency that will be the best fit for you and your goals. The Turks and Caicos Real Estate Association (TCREA) has 16 Agencies and 100 trained agents. You may research all on the TCREA website www.tcrea.com. You may interview several by phone or email or have them meet you at your property so you can ascertain which agent suits your needs and that you can work well with. Remember, you and your agent will partner in marketing your property. You must be able to communicate well together – as seller, you should ask questions or make suggestions; your agent must feel comfortable in responding candidly and also give you their expert advice – their knowledge and experience of the Turks and Caicos real estate market will be instrumental in the marketing of your property.
You and your agent will review all aspects of the property to calculate the market value of your property. Your agent will provide comparables (properties of similar style, quality, size, location and price) of active listing and sales as well as current market trends so that you may make your decision with facts of the market.
PRICING YOUR PROPERTY
Pricing is a very important factor in listing and marketing your property. You want to have it within a range that is comparable to market value. If the property is overpriced it will take longer to sell, as customers will be hesitant to view the property or to make an offer if other properties that are similar are priced lower. When a property is priced at fair market value it creates interest, showings and offers – ultimately sale of the property – this is the goal of listing. Your agent will be able to guide you.
Once you have ascertained the price, the TCREA Listing Agreement is filled out with pricing, facts and amenities of the property. The listing period is also established at this time. One year is a normal period for the first listing; this gives Turks and Caicos real estate agents an opportunity to market through high season (Nov – April) and low season (April- Nov); there are buyers in both busy times and quieter times. The Agent will prepare the listing, forward it to you for review (this can be done by email), you can discuss any changes with your agent prior to publishing. Once the Listing Agreement is completed the owner/s sign the agreement and return to the agent. Along with the Listing Agreement you will also need to provide a copy of the Land Registry showing property ownership; you will have this from when you first purchased the property. If you do not, an application will need to be made by you or the agent for a copy from Land Registry; there is a $25 fee.
Also required with listing agreement is a copy of passport/s of owners and copy of proof of address (utility bill). These documents are a requirement by the FSC for all.
If the property is other than land, a Property Information Sheet must also be completed – this document shows any changes, improvements or deficiency to the property – this is helpful when buying real estate in Turks and Caicos, a purchaser is assured that they are buying what is being advertised.
The listing agreement is signed by the vendor and by the Agency Broker. You receive a copy and a copy is on file in ERA’s office. The listing is a binding contract that sets out terms of the agreement between the vendor (seller) and agency (broker) as well as the facts of the property.
Commission rates are under Turks and Caicos Real Estate requirements – 6% for any property with a building or 10% for vacant land.
VISUALLY DOCUMENTING THE PROPERTY
The agent will arrange for photographs to be taken of the property and may employ additional forms of documentation like aerial drone video and stills, video walk-through or even a 3D-virtual tour using sophisticated mapping software. Once suitable photos are available the listing is then put up on the TCREA MLS (Multiple Listing System) site. The listing will also be highlighted on the agent and ERA website, as well as social media sites and circulated to agent/agency contact lists. This marketing continues until the property is sold
If permitted a sign is put on property; most resorts and developments do not allow signs. On private properties a sign is a great marketing tool. Local residents and visitors often drive around. They see a sign on a property and call, this often leads to a sale.
Showings of the property are also important to sales. No matter the number of photos, videos etc. most purchasers want to see the property live before considering presenting an offer. Showings can be a challenge for agents in high season if properties are vacation rentals. If the property is occupied with guests’ agents are not allowed to show. Visitors do not want to be disturbed while they are enjoying their holiday. This is respected. If agents can make arrangement they do. This is one reason that it is important for listings to be for at least one year. If an interested customer cannot get access to view a property in high season, they often come back when it is quieter to have a look. Often purchasers will come back 2 or 3 times through the year to look at properties prior to presenting an offer. The Turks and Caicos are a holiday destination – 95%+ of our clients and customers are from other parts of the world – it is a unique situation for real estate. Days on the market are often much higher than is normal in mainland USA, Canada, UK, Europe, South America etc. there are not millions of people moving on a regular basis. As a vacation destination many invest for returns –either as a vacation rental property or capital gain.
Once a customer is interested in a property an offer is made. This offer can come from other agencies and agents or from within the listing agencies office. All agents and agencies work for the vendor, as vendor pays commission. Consequently, there are no Buyer Agents in the Turks and Caicos Islands. TCREA membership have an excellent relationship with most of their fellow agents and are committed to getting the best results for you. There is duty to the purchaser for honesty and ethical practice of providing factual information. If co-broke the commission is shared 50/50 between agencies.
The offer is presented through a Preliminary Agreement (PA) form provided by Turks and Caicos Real Estate Association. The PA lays out terms, conditions and offer amount including date of closing. The vendor has 3 options:
- 1) To accept offer as presented
- 2) to counter any of terms, conditions or offer amount
- 3) refuse outright.
The purchaser signs the agreement prior to agent presenting to vendor.
(Please note if a full price, no condition offer is presented and the vendor refuses, they will be responsible to pay full commission as the agent/agency has fulfilled their duty in finding a ready and willing buyer. This is covered in the Listing Agreement).
Once terms, conditions and purchase price are agreed the vendor will sign the Preliminary Agreement back to purchaser. Note: this is often done by email.
ATTORNEYS AND CLOSING
The PA is then forwarded to both parties and the respective Turks and Caicos Islands attorneys. Your attorney then drafts the Sale and Purchase Agreement contract with the price, terms and conditions negotiated by the real estate agents. Once contract is approved and signed by both buyer and seller, a 10% deposit is provided by the purchaser – this is nonrefundable if purchaser backs out of sale prior to closing. Closing is determined by the PA; it is often 30-60 days from acceptance of Preliminary Agreement.
The next step is for transfer papers to be executed and signed. The attorney will courier these to the necessary parties as they must have original signature and be signed in the presence of a Notary Public. The documents are then couriered back to respective attorneys. These steps all take time, therefore require time for closing.
Once your attorney receives signed documents, a date and time is agreed between attorneys to exchange transfer papers and balance of purchase price. The vendor or purchaser are not required to attend. The vendor’s attorney receives purchase funds, the purchaser’s attorney receives transfer document. The transfer documents are couriered to Land Registry Office in Grand Turk where the property is registered in new owner’s name. From time to time there is an error made on transfer papers, so a time frame of 14 days is in place (in contract) before funds are disbursed to vendor and any other parties’ due funds. If an error is found, it is usually within 7 days and transfer papers must be re-done.
It is critical that vendor and real estate agent work together through the process. A trust and understanding makes for a good relationship and ease of process. Real Estate agents rely on referrals, they want you to work with them again on a purchase or sale, also to refer family and friends so they want to do the best job possible for you. It is not unusual for a friendship to develop – this is the ultimate of the trust between agent and client.
ERA Turks and Caicos Real Estate Team invite you to work with us – we want the BEST for you.