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I would like to buy a home in Cuba for my Cuban mother-in-law
Posted: 28 February 2007 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi

I am a British citizen, my wife is cuban and lives here in London with me.

I would like to live in Cuba one day, Iím thinking later on, perhaps in ten years or so. Also I would like to help my mother - in - law, she lives in a very run down, small apartment which, by our standards is squalid. Being fastidious like most cubans I have met she tries very much to keep the place clean, but really she needs a bigger place, in a better neighbourhood.

I am assuming that the only way to provide for my mother - in - law, and for me to enjoy a laid back retirement opportunity, would be to purchase purely on a goodwill basis. I am also thinking that if the property were suitable enough she could register it as a private casa and earn some form of income from it. This I would assume will have to be in her name. If she were to buy a property, financed by myself but in her name, would the Cuban government own 50%.?

Also, on a slightly different tack, my wife has been her since August last year, at the moment the Cuban embassy in London cannot provide the neccesary paperwork clearance for her to be able to visit her mother. They say in fact that it can take anything up to one year. As yet I have not questioned the embassy directly as to the nature of the timescale and when realistically we can expect clearance.

Can anyone provide any advice on these matters?

Many thanks in advance.

Edward

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Posted: 06 May 2007 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hello edward:

I have a cuban wife, for whom I bought a property last year.  I do not profess to know much about the whole process of purchasing ane owning property, but here are a few things that I have learned about it (probably much of which you know anyway):

1. Only a cuban national can own cuban property
2. Buying a property is a fairly mind-boggling process, even for locals.  You really need a close relative or very good friend (or your wife) expending lots of shoe leather and perspiration to achieve anything.  It takes months.
3. There is lots of property for sale, but many “sales” involve no paperwork and are purely an agreement between seller and purchaser regarding the property.  The sale has no legal basis as the “owner” is merely the occupier, with “ownership” possibly having changed many times previously.  A proper purchase takes a lot of time, patience and much shuffling of paperwork between various government departments (with paperwork sometimes getting “stuck” unless “encouraged” along)
4.  If the legal owner dies, the property reverts to the state, unless a dependent or close relative can show that they have been living in the property for a certain length of time prior to the death of the owner (exactly how long I am unsure).  I believe that ownership is then passed onto this person (with another suitably lengthy round of paperwork, presumably).
5.  There are no particular impediments to setting up the house as a “casa alquilar”, except for registration and payment of monthly taxes (somewhere between $170 and $250 per room, depending on the location).  Owners of good casas can live very well by local standards.
6.  If you want to buy a house to rent out, buy a good house in a good location - you will probably spend a lot more on renovating a poor house than on buying a good house (even getting the materials for the renovation will wear you down).  There are some beautiful properties for sale, some with period furniture and fittings that is just spectacular to behold.
7.  Local knowledge of properties for sale is needed - sellers do not advertise their wares.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Interesting insight into real estate “sales” in Cuba. Sounds like you don’t own much when you buy property.

You are buying the right to live in a house I guess.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 11:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hey Howertings

Thanks for the reply, it’s good to hear from someone who’s actually bough the T-shirt so to speak. I kind of assumed that it would at the very least be a cumbersome process. As, Publisher comments, one is buying into the right to a home although I suspect in legal parlance, one wouldn’t have the rights to property as in say the UK or USA. Do you live apart from your wife?  if so, do you visit Cuba on a regular basis to see your wife?, and whereabouts in Cuba is the house?

Ed

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Posted: 08 May 2007 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hello edward:

Sorry if my last post appeared overly negative.  Purchasing a property is possible and you (or more accurately , your cuban spouse or relative) have rights to the property if all of the paperwork is correct.  With the proper paperwork you can also sell the property.  The issue of succession appears to be one of the complications.
In my case, my wife currently lives (in her house) in the Pinar Del Rio province.  We got married earlier this year and hopefully she will be joining me as soon as all of the paperwork is in place.  The house that she bought was bought from an individual who had not inhabited the house for a long time and who owned other houses aswell.  This just goes to show that a lot of what I previously wrote is the theory, but the practice is that there are exceptions to every rule or there seems to be a way around every obstacle, but you have to know how the system works.  This is where us westerners are at a complete loss and need to defer to local knowledge.  There are (state) lawyers in cuba, but I do not know how they fare in relation to property transactions as in my case my spouse’s family were able to steer the whole thing along.
I know of other foreigners with cuban spouses who have purchased (or even built - respect!) property and who don’t necessarily occupy their property the majority of the time. 
In summary, if you or your extended family can make use of the house, then I would recommend that you do purchase.  Just don’t expect there to be any of the speculative aspects that are associated with property in other countries as things are geared to avoid speculation in property.  This, along with the absence of credit and relatively low purchasing power by locals, means that property is very cheap by our standards. If someone is going to be living in the house full time, then so much the better.  But you do need help from your spouse’s family or some other local good person to ensure that you cover all of the angles.  If you need to sell then you are unlikely to lose money as long as the property is good, the title is good, and you are willing to wait for a buyer to turn up.

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Posted: 12 May 2007 06:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hi,

Can you give some idea of what R/E prices are like in Cuba?

What is the sanitation like?

Is it safe compared to say UK and Europe?

Is it feasible for a “westerner” to live and work there?

TIA,
Brian

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Posted: 12 May 2007 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Brian - 12 May 2007 06:23 PM

Hi,

Can you give some idea of what R/E prices are like in Cuba?

What is the sanitation like?

Is it safe compared to say UK and Europe?

Is it feasible for a “westerner” to live and work there?

TIA,
Brian

If you read the above I think you will discover that your understanding of “real estate” is not the same as it exists in Cuba.

Go there and stay in a casa particular then maybe try to rent something long term so you can understand the communist sense of real estate.

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Posted: 20 June 2008 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Publisher - 12 May 2007 06:42 PM

If you read the above I think you will discover that your understanding of “real estate” is not the same as it exists in Cuba.

Go there and stay in a casa particular then maybe try to rent something long term so you can understand the communist sense of real estate.

So, it’s like a test drive before actually getting into it.

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Posted: 20 June 2008 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’m under the impression that Raul has allowed new concessions when it comes to home ownership in the last few months.  Seems like this thread should get a little update about what has changed.

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Posted: 27 August 2008 09:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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as far as i know there are legal ways to get a propety legally in cuba ,you will have to travel to cuba and become a cuban temporary resident to get it ,it is something like that ,i do not remember the details those you will have to get it in cuba visiting the housing authority(empresa de viviendas)

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Posted: 03 January 2009 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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the easiest and totally legal way is to get into a permuta (change) of houses, and involve some money in the process, so basically you will trade your wife mother house with somebody else house (house you will normally buy) and add some money in the process, just keep the payment thing quiet

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Posted: 18 January 2009 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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When you talk about r/e in cuba firs you should remember about restitution, soner or later property will be returned to pre-castro owners(same like was with property in ex-USSR countries ). The way to be sure that you will stay with property afte castro is to buy new apartments in newly constructed buildings in miramar, it’s expensive compare to ordinary price beetwen cubans but thats the only chance for foreiner to get property in cuba. As regards topicstarter - if your wife cuban she should know well how they get property, why you ask here if she can explain every point.

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Posted: 22 January 2009 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Anders - 18 January 2009 01:47 PM

When you talk about r/e in cuba firs you should remember about restitution, soner or later property will be returned to pre-castro owners(same like was with property in ex-USSR countries ). The way to be sure that you will stay with property afte castro is to buy new apartments in newly constructed buildings in miramar, it’s expensive compare to ordinary price beetwen cubans but thats the only chance for foreiner to get property in cuba. As regards topicstarter - if your wife cuban she should know well how they get property, why you ask here if she can explain every point.

I don’t think taht is going to ever happen, land yes but homes which in the great majority are falling apart ?
I certainly don’t want my old house back, I’ll build a new one if Iam ever able to go back.

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Posted: 22 January 2009 05:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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i’m from country where was restitution. It’s not just your minor question,  your home is bad but somebody can get back villas in siboney or nautico, sugar land, hotels, etc. But anyway, if you will be able to get fyour home back and than sell even for 3000-5000eur( just for free to you extra 3000-5000eur) will you refuse ? in my country nobody refuse

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Posted: 22 January 2009 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Anders - 22 January 2009 05:05 PM

i’m from country where was restitution. It’s not just your minor question,  your home is bad but somebody can get back villas in siboney or nautico, sugar land, hotels, etc. But anyway, if you will be able to get fyour home back and than sell even for 3000-5000eur( just for free to you extra 3000-5000eur) will you refuse ? in my country nobody refuse

Yes I would, And that’s exactly what I promised the family that now occupies it, I told them this house is yours foreever, now the 9000.00 acres behind it is Family inheritance, they approached me first when I went to visit.
And they say the goverment says you guys are coming back to take property back and I want you to know we know is yours and we are keeping it for you”

It is the fear that Castro has used to divide the cubans in The Island and the exiles.

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