Recently I had an experience with an estate agent visiting Punta Cana from Canada. She claimed to be taking a tour of the area to refer interested clients. She was friendly, courteous, and took lots of detailed notes on our closing procedures and taxes.
I turns out she wasn’t interested in referring clients to me or any other agent in the Dominican.
She was trying to get to know the Punta Cana market so she could list and sell properties herself, which she is now doing – the only problem is that she’s listing all sorts of problem and untitled properties, homes that reputable local Punta Cana agents will avoid as they’re a massive headache.
How bad is an untitled property?
Very, very bad. There is a special process – saneamiento in Spanish – that all Dominican properties have to go through before they are legally available for sale or purchase. Purchasing a property with a legally issued Certificate of Title is much less time-consuming, far easier, and far less risky, than buying an untitled property.
A local agent will know this and will know the steps required. This is why it’s crucial that you hire a Dominican agent instead of opting for one from outside the country.
Know the Lingo
For one thing, a Dominican agent will be able to speak Spanish fluently, an important consideration that too often gets overlooked. Would you sign a document if you didn’t understand the language it was written in? Would you trust an agent from Idaho whose Spanish doesn’t go beyond ‘una cerveza, por favor’?
As well as the language, a local agent will of course know the market, its idiosyncracies, which areas sell fast, which move slower.
A local agent will never offer you a property without Title. If one does, thank them for their time and move on.
An outside agent won’t be familiar with local procedures, processes and closing costs. They’re more likely to abandon you when there’s a problem, and will blame a bad deal on Dominican bureaucracy or the Dominican banking system.
If you’re determined to use an agent from outside the Dominican, do a background check before committing. Even if an agent is from a well-known company, you should know that most agencies in North America are independently owned franchises, and you may have little legal recourse if your Punta Cana deal runs into problems.