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How To Own A Home In Trinidad and Tobago

Without knowing a government minister or a link in HDC, many Trinbigonians want to know how to own a home in Trinidad and Tobago? How do you qualify for a home? Why do I need to pre-qualified? Do I need a down payment if I am getting 100% financing?

How To Own A Home In Trinidad and Tobago

how to own a home in Trinidad and Tobago

There four main ways to become a home owner in Trinidad and Tobago:

Housing Development Corporation


Inherit a Home

Mortgage Financing

Housing Development Corporation (HDC)

The government of Trinidad and Tobago has a responsibility to provide subsidize housing for citizens. HDC is responsible for planning, building and distribution of affordable homes for sale. HDC is building in the following areas:

River Runs Through

This is 1 116 compound located at By Pass Road Arima. Planned completion was June 2017. There will be a combination of single family homes and townhouses.

Bon Air North

HDC’s Bon Air North development located in Arouca. This large project consists of 400 duplexes and apartments.

Malabar Phase 3 Housing Development

Located in Arima this community will consist of 90 townhouse units.

Own a Home Squatting

squatting in trinidad and tobago

Squatting is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago. However over the years the government has issued certificate of comfort to squatters in many part of Trinidad and Tobago.


Citizens will occupy government lands by building a home.  Hoping that the government will not demolish the home. Knowing that squatting is illegal squatters live on the edge claiming they need somewhere to live. There is risk daily when living on government land.

However after occupying the land for over 10 years squatters claim to have rights to the land. Squatters form groups and petition the government for deeds.

Squatting is illegal and this is not an option citizens should pursue in Trinidad and Tobago.

Inherit a Home

This is a great way to own a home in Trinidad and Tobago. Many families in Trinidad do not inherit homes. Traditionally real estate prices prevented the average couple from owning a home until HDC.

How To Own A Home In Trinidad and Tobago through Mortgage Financing

advantages of buying a home

Mortgage financing is the option most Trinbagonians use to own a home. There is a process when trying to own a home through mortgage financing.

Before you can unlock the door to home-ownership, you have to take some important first steps. From finding the perfect location to financing your purchase, shopping for your first home has challenges that go beyond curb appeal and interior features.

Many first time home owners make fundamental mistakes when seeking a mortgage. Here are some first time home buyers mistakes:

  • Mortgagor Search

It is important to know what type of mortgage you qualify. Single income earners are different from joint income families. Bank will compete for your business so it is important to shop around.

Bank will prefer you have an account with them. This will establish your credit history.

  • Looking For A Home First Before A Mortgage

After years of renting it is time to own your home. With no financial valuation the search begins. We join as many Facebook groups as possible, call real estate agents and plan viewing of properties.

Unfortunately you find your dream home and lose it because the cart came before the horse. As a first time home buyer you did not pre-qualify and have your down payment.

  • Do Not Pre-Qualify

Many first time home owners assume based on their income they can qualify for a random amount. Others are afraid to due to the possible actual dollar value they can qualify.

In the end sellers, agents and buyers wait time and money. Unqualified buyers viewing homes and unable to buy results in time-wasting for all parties involved.

Here is The Process On How To Own A Home In Trinidad and Tobago

This post will cover the process to owning a home. Many buyers believe it is a simple process but there are do’s and don’ts on how to own a home in Trinidad and Tobago. These are steps to follow to successfully attain your mortgage and purchase your first home:

Pre-qualify For A Mortgage

Mortgage Shopping

Have a down payment

Contact a Real Estate Agent


Making an Offer

Signing Sales Agreement and Escrow

Mortgagor Process | Closing Costs

Final Payment and Transfer of Ownership


Pre-qualify for a Mortgage

get pre-approved for a mortgageFind out how much you’re qualified to borrow. Being pre-qualified or conditionally approved for a mortgage is the best way to know how much you can borrow. A pre-qualification gives you an estimate of how much you can borrow based on your income, employment, credit and bank account information.

credit score definition trinidad

Knowing your credit score is a key factor when applying for a mortgage. Trans Union Trinidad collects data from on credit facilities offered to citizens. Your credit score is basically a report on your credit history.

It will be wise to pay off all debts when you are planning to buy a home. Outstanding credit from Digicel, Courts, Credit Union, Island Finance, Banks etc can affect your credit rating. Financial records are kept for 7 years.

Mortgage companies will set an appointment for a pre-qualification interview. Here are some of the documents you will need:

National identification – Two forms of valid id for all parties applying for the mortgage.

Proof of employment – A job letter not more than three months and your last three months pay slips. Your mortgage lends needs to confirm length of service because it relates to your ability to repay the loan.

Place of Residence – A utility bill (WASA, T&Tec, TSTT) not more than 3 months. Lenders will want to know your current place of abode within recent years

Bank account information

trinidad and tobago mortgage banks

When you apply for mortgage pre-approval, the lender will want to know how much money you have in the bank. They need to ensure you have sufficient funds for your closing costs, down payment, and cash reserves (if applicable).

So they will probably ask you for account statements and balances for any checking, savings, or money market accounts. This is another standard mortgage document for pre-approval. This is a standard procedure and do not try to hold back information. It will only hamper your application and credit checks will reveal your status.

Credit information – Do you have other outstanding loans that you’re currently repaying (car loans, student loans, etc.)? If so, the lender may ask for documents related to those accounts. They need this information to measure your debt-to-income ratio.

Self-employment documents – Do you run your own business? If so, you will have to provide some additional documents during the mortgage pre-approval process. This will include balance sheets, a profit-and-loss statement and audited financial statements for the last three years. Self employed persons are at higher risk for Money laundering and Terrorist financing.

Have a Down Payment

no down payment mortgage optionYour down payment is key to closing the purchase of a home. You must have a down payment to ensure the seller accepts your offer. Many first time buyers do not have their down payment claiming for example TTMF is providing 100% financing.

Houses for sale in Trinidad and Tobago are available to thousands of interested buyers. Sellers will want a quick sale for their property and a down payment held in escrow shows the buyer is serious. A letter at times is not enough for a seller to hold the sale of the property.

First time home buyers are afraid to lose their down payment. There is no need for this concern when buying a home.  Buyers assume that the seller may be a scammer, the documents are not in order and many other problems with the title of the property.

Monies held in escrow in addition to a sales agreement minimize the risk of losing your down payment. A lawyer prepares a sales agreement that list the terms and conditions of the sale. Additionally the down payment between 5% – 10% is held in safe keeping (escrow).

Contact a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents representing buyers in Trinidad and Tobago provide their services for free unlike other parts of the world. Buyers will contact several agents resulting in a duplication of effort. Agents receive payment only upon completion of a sale. Expenses incurred doing viewings, phone calls, time and emails are all borne by the agent.

The right agent will have tips to show you how to own a home in Trinidad and Tobago. Help check all the boxes you need in your dream and most importantly find deals that stay within your budget.


Whether you use an agent or contact the owner yourself setting appointments to view homes is exciting. Knowing your budget empowers buying power.

Buyers need to understand the term “negotiable”. If your budget is for homes under one million chances of getting a house for sale listed at 1.4 million is hardly likely. Owners or agents negotiable is normally between 0 – 100 thousand dollars off the asking price.

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Top 3 Reasons To Buy A Home In Trinidad and Tobago 2017

Buying A Home In Trinidad and Tobago 2017

Owning a home is a primary need for new families, young professionals, single parents and the real estate investor. The real estate industry in Trinidad and Tobago has seen its ups and downs over the last decade but one thing remains constant – PRICES KEEP RISING.

With recent years the price of oil on the global market has reduced significantly from over USD 100.00 (2008) to under USD 40.00 (2016) per barrel. Trinidad and Tobago economy continues to feel the impact due to the reduction in oil prices. The government does not have the resources or the revenue of years gone by to build low-cost housing to meet the needs of the country.

The main services these companies offer as “Mortgage Products”:

  • Home Acquisition Loans
  • Home Construction Loans
  • Home Renovation Loans
  • Land Loans
  • Reverse Mortgages

In particular, I want to stress the importance home buying in 2017. While many may want to wait to see how things play out, I encourage you to rethink things. In fact, 2017 should be the year prospective buyers make the leap, and for more than one reason. Let’s take a look at three specific reasons those considering purchasing a home should act sooner rather than later.

  1. Low Mortgage Rate

mortgage rate drop

Many of us need a mortgage to purchase a home. The main players in this game of home financing are the commercial banks. Traditionally Scotiabank was at the top of the pack with mortgage finance with affordable mortgage rates for first time home owners. The market has changed the banks are lining up for your business.

The banks include First Citizens Bank, RBC Royal Bank and Republic Bank Ltd. There are other institutions that provide mortgages such as Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance, Home Mortgage Bank and Eastern Credit Union.

The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Market Reference Rate

The Mortgage Market Reference Rate is an interest rate benchmark against which mortgages are to be priced and re-priced. It is computed by the Central Bank based on information on commercial banks’ funding costs and yields on ten-year treasury bonds. The Mortgage Market Reference Rate is announced by the Central Bank on a quarterly basis on the first working day in the months of March, June, September and December. As at December 2016 the rate is 3%.

RBC Royal Bank now has “Mortgage Specialist”. What is a mortgage specialist? The bank created positions and trained persons who are dedicated to help individuals and businesses secure home ownership. The catch phrase “We will meet you almost anywhere”.

low mortgage rates

RBC Royal Bank – RBC Prime Rate – 2.7%

Scotia Bank Ltd – Scotia Prime Rate – 2.7%

First Citizen Bank Ltd. is Trinidad and Tobago locally owned bank. A visit to their website you will be able to click on the link to meet their “Mortgage Experts”.

First Citizen Bank – Prime Rate 3.5%

Republic Bank Ltd – Prime Rate 4.0%

The average mortgage rate is slightly higher than 4%, but don’t expect it to stay there. In fact, it’s no longer a question of whether or not rates will increase in 2017, but when. As the government has suggested on multiple occasions, the reason for increasing the key interest rate is strengthening by the day. Some put the potential increase upwards of an additional 2% in as little as three years, and there is nothing to suggest otherwise.

General consensus suggests rates will continue to rise in accordance with the economy, but I digress. The impending rate hikes aren’t something to be afraid of, but rather something to motivate buyers to act sooner. Prospective buyers may want to consider acting now, before they are saddled with slightly higher monthly payments.

2. Lack of Homes For Sale Listings

Unlike the government decision to decision to increase super gas prices in the last budget, the number of available housing inventory or lack thereof, is common knowledge to the average homebuyer. It is a daunting task to find a home for sale in a “GOOD AREA” for less than 1 million dollars. However, simply knowing about a problem doesn’t solve it. If for nothing else, new listings levels for the average man are even worse off than they were just a few short months ago. The good/bad news is there are more luxury homes for sale. Therefore if your budget is between 3 million and 8 million then there are several options.

House prices in the islands range from around TT$1.5 million (US$240,000) to TT$8 million (US$1.26 million), depending on size, location and amenities – though of course there are super-luxurious and also low-end houses (without title) that fall well outside this range.

In Trinidad, the price of three-bedroom single-storey home starts at around US$310,000 in January 2016, according to Sarah Joseph, a real estate broker with Sunrise Properties. In the more desirable neighborhoods of West Trinidad, modern homes are priced from about US$550,000.

At The Crossings, located on the outskirts of the bustling town of Arima in Trinidad, three bedroom houses are currently being offered from around TT$1.76 million (US$265,000) to TT$2.2 million (US$330,000). On the other hand, residential land in The Crossings sells for less than TT$120.5 (US$19) per square foot (sq. ft.).

In Tobago, the price of small condominiums starts at around US$390,000 while single-family homes start at about US$550,000.

The number of available homes we saw in November represented a 10% decline from the previous year, adding to a trend that has seen inventory drop incrementally for the better part of a decade. What’s more, there is nothing to suggest the trend won’t continue for at least the foreseeable future.

It’s hard to argue with the inventory shortage, which begs the question: What do today’s inventory levels mean for tomorrow’s buyers? One thing is for certain: buyers will have more homes to choose from the sooner they decide to purchase.

Not surprisingly, inventory is shrinking by the day, which spells catastrophe for those that would rather avoid competition. At the very least, a lack of inventory will increase home prices and make finding the right home a lot more difficult. That said, you may want to start looking for your new home sooner rather than later.

3. Prices Continue To Rise


One indicator, perhaps more than any other, should motivate homebuyers to act sooner rather than later: appreciation. It’s worth noting that home values have not only pulled themselves out from the depths of the last recession, but also eclipsed their peak just before the 2007 crash. In fact, home prices increased 5% from 2015 to 2016 alone, and experts wouldn’t be surprised if this year tacked on another 2% or 3%. It should go without saying, but those of you looking to buy a home should act now if you want to avoid paying more for the same property.

“Prices continue to go up; we have yet to see that ceiling,” says Lauren Carabache, a real estate agent with Lauren Carabache Real Estate Services Ltd. in Trinidad and Tobago.”


Transaction Costs                                                     Who Pays?

Stamp Duty     3.0% – 7.5%                                        buyer

Legal Fees       0.5% – 1.5% (+ 15% VAT)                    buyer

0.5% – 1.5% (+ 15% VAT)                                            seller

Real Estate Agent´s Commission       3.0% – 5.0%     seller

Costs paid by buyer                           3.58% – 9.23%

Costs paid by seller                            3.58% – 6.73%


When the price of the property has been agreed upon by the buyer and the seller, both parties enter into an Agreement of Sale and a 10% deposit to be held in escrow is required of the buyer. It is stated in the Sales Agreement that both parties have 90 days to complete everything that is needed to close the transaction.

The next step is to hire a lawyer to prepare documents for Conveyance and to do a title search on the property. It must be ascertained that the property is free from any encumbrance.

After the all costs, including the balance on the purchase price, have been paid, the stamped instruments must be registered. Under the Real Property Ordinance, registration is compulsory for the transfer to be effective. The lawyer will register the property in the Red House (the seat of the National Parliament). The registration must be brought to the Warden’s Office where the property is located.

time-to-buy-a-home-is-nowI maintain that 2017 remains a very encouraging year for the entire housing sector. While interest rates are expected to rise, they are still relatively low, at least compared to the double-digit numbers we have seen in the past. And while 4% may seem like a lot to those who became overly familiar with today’s low rates, it’s a far cry from what people paid a generation ago.

 What’s more, prices are only expected to continue rising, so you may want to jump on a deal when you see one, as opposed to waiting things out. All things considered, the housing market Trinidad and Tobago has made great strides since the recession, and 2017 may be the year we see everything come together.