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For starters, US citizens who buy property in Cuba would be violating the Trading With the Enemy Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1961. But plenty of action is possible in under-the-table activity involving Americans and foreigners. And the Cuban government does not allow foreign ownership of real estate except in the case of narrowly defined developments that cater to foreigners.

Good news! Cuba has opened the doors to investment property with the approval of the new immigration law granting residency to foreign owners of property in the country. Cuba’s Gaceta Oficial (Decree 305, Articles 92 and 93) announced a revision to Cuban immigration law, which now makes foreigners (personas naturales extranjeras) who own Cuban real estate or have long-term property rentals on the island eligible for one-year visas renewable for an extra year. . The status lasts one year, but can be renewed yearly, without a limited number of renewals. The new visa category, “Real Estate Resident” (Residente de Inmobiliaria) is now officially listed along with other types of visas for which incoming foreigners can apply.

It is therefore possible for foreign investors to buy Real Estate in Cuba by buying directly from one of the current foreigner who owns a home or an apartment in Cuba

If you get one of these visas, you will have to request and carry always with you an ID document that says you are a real estate resident investor). You will not need to live in Cuba all the time; you can spend a year abroad, without setting foot in Cuba and still not lose your status as a Resident de Inmobiliaria and even extend your absence for a longer time by asking for a waiver at a Cuban consular office. https://www.cubastandard.com/?p=10624

There is another one way for non-resident investors to buy real estate in Cuba and is buying directly from a current foreigner who owns a home, or an apartment in Cuba. During the 1990’s decade and part of the next one, Cuban law permitted for short time the construction of some condo buildings where foreigners could buy an apartment. Those who did, and bought at fair rates during those times, are now able to sell to other foreigners who are not residents in Cuba.  This is one of the only ways according to current legislation, where a non Cuban resident can buy a home or invest in the Cuban Real estate market. So, if you are not American, these units are an option to consider and are freely traded only among foreigners.

Some foreign investors get around the restrictions by giving money to a Cuban friend, or more often, girlfriend, to buy a property – although, when the deal is completed, some swiftly discover that their girlfriend is no longer their girlfriend. Also, there are some Cubans selling property illegally to foreigners under the table.  At this time the author doesn’t recommend purchasing property this way since the property remains in the Cuban owner's name and you have no legal recourse if the deal eventually goes sour.

An American buyer could consider funding a purchase through a Cuban resident friend – but the property would remain in the friend’s name – and be would subject to the whims of the friendship with no legal recourse in the event of a dispute.

Basically, there are legal ways for foreign investors to buy real estate in Cuba:

  1. Marrying a Cuban, which allows the foreign citizen to become a permanent resident, thus being allowed by law to buy a home from local Cuban owner. Non-Cuban investors are skirting Cuban property purchase laws, involves the investor marrying a Cuban woman and both beginning to live permanently in Cuba. The property could be bought in the woman's name. She would hold the title for life. And if the two divorce, the property remains in the woman's name.
  2. Buying a property in the names of Cuban spouses, family members or friends: By law, the market is open only to Cubans on the island or those living temporarily abroad. Foreigners, including Cubans living in the United States or other countries, are buying properties in the names of Cuban spouses, family members or friends. 

Tax is troublesome, too. Both sellers and buyers must pay 4 per cent but most disguise the value of deals to reduce the liability.

The conditions surrounding home sales are complicated and, occasionally, bonkers. The law says that only Cubans and permanent residents can buy and sell property and they must limit themselves to one main residence and, if they have the money, one holiday home. Raúl Castro does not want Cubans to become property barons.

The biggest differences in buying property in Cuba are:

  1. In Cuba you do not pay property taxes. In North America there are financing institutions that help buyers to finance their new house whereas in Cuba you can only pay with cash from a Cuban bank account.
  2. In North America people can own as many houses as they wish. In Cuba (according to the law effective as of Nov. 2011) Cubans are limited to owning one home in the city and another in the countryside, this is an effort from the Cuban government to prevent speculative buying and the accumulation of large real estate holdings by one owner.
  3. In Canada (in accordance with the Canadian law) non-residents have the same rights as residents and citizens of Canada in terms of buying, owning or selling real estate in Canada. In Cuba only Cuban citizens and permanent residents are allowed to sell and buy real estate.
  4. There are some home sellers that want to sell at extreme prices, mostly because their property is the only asset that they own and cause the owner’s opinions of their properties to be influenced by sentimental value. Most families believe their homes are worth a great deal more than the average and they assume this should be reflected in the sales price.
    Unfortunately, it does not work this way. In the Cuban market, the risk of an overpriced home does not only mean that the asking price will not be met but there is also a risk of turning off potential buyers, since an unreasonable price could stigmatize the property.
  5. Here is the closing process. Prior to the conclusion of the sale, the buyer must go to a Cuban bank to make the deposit of the decided amount to pay (CUP, or “pesos cubanos”) to acquire the property. (This value should not be less than the legal value of the property).

The buyer will receive a payment instrument (check) that will have to be given to the seller in the presence of the notary in the formalization of the act.

The Notary’s service for this particular act has a value of 35.00 CUP, and the stamp added to the document is worth 5 CUP or “pesos cubanos”.

On the real estate transfer of ownership there is a levy of 4 percent on the agreed value of the purchase, which must be paid by each of the parties within 30 days. 

Cuban Real Estate Offices in Cuba

Espacio Cuba www.espaciocuba.com has two offices in Havana and a website in Spanish and English with photo galleries and a database of properties. Most of the listings are in Havana’s most desirable districts, especially Vedado and Playa areas. A typical three-bedroom, two-bath apartment in those neighborhoods sells for about $60,000, while detached houses there are often listed for $100,000 or more. The market is still immature, but there’s a bit more experience now, and sellers are more and more willing to negotiate.

 Cuba Homes Direct, www.cubadirecthomes.com  start-up real estate agency. The owner returned to the island after working for several years as a broker in England.

Havana Houses, located in Havana Vieja, www.habana-casas.com Tel: + 53 (7) 861-0939, Mobile +53 (5) 538 9733,  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., is another real estate firm operating in Cuba.

Tacon Inmobilaria http://cubatacon.com/real-estate inmobiliaria.html, Tel US office :   (970) - 948-8317, Cuba office: 011-53-5-470-9975, E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., offer multiple real estate information.

ADISA CUBA, www.adisacuba-realestate.com  Tel: 53-7-8616212 – Mobile: +53 58316138 has offices in Havana and in Europe.

Point 2 Cuba lists homes for sale in Cuba. Call their office at (905) 628-8572 to request any information. Their office in Havana is at #123 20th street between Third Ave and First Ave in Miramar, Havana (aka Calle 20 entre 3ra y 1ra #123). Point 2 Cuba understands the complexities of Cuban law and works closely with knowledgeable lawyers to ensure proper and legal real estate transfers.

Cuba Homes Direct, http://cubahomesdirect.com is another source for finding property.

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