Real estate transactions in the Dominican Republic are governed by Property Registry Law No. 108-05 and its Regulations, in force since April 4, 2007. Ownership of property is documented by "Certificates of Title" issued by Title Registry Offices.
Steps Involved in a Real Estate Transaction
" Preliminary Steps: Real estate purchases in the Dominican Republic do not usually follow the North American pattern of a written offer tendered by the buyer to the seller, followed by the seller=s written acceptance. Instead, after verbal agreement is reached by the buyer and seller on the price, a binding Promise of Sale is prepared by an attorney (solicitor) or notary public which is signed by both parties. (Notaries in the Dominican Republic are required to have a law degree.)
Because of certain peculiarities of Dominican Real Estate Law, it is recommended that the prospective buyer retain a real estate attorney (solicitor) before signing any documents or making a deposit. Depending on the wishes of the parties, the attorney (solicitor) may proceed with the due diligence first, before preparing the Promise of Sale, or alternatively, prepare the Promise of Sale first, conditioning the purchase to the results of the due diligence to be done in a specified term.
" Promise of Sale: This is a formal document, binding on both parties, and signed by them in the presence of a Notary Public. From a practical point of view, it is more important than the Deed of Sale, since it generally contains a complete and detailed description of the entire transaction up to the time when the purchase price has been paid in full and the property is ready to be conveyed to the buyer. A well-drafted Promise of Sale should contain at least the following provisions:
(a) Full name and particulars of the parties. If the seller is married, the spouse must also sign. (b) Legal description of the property to be purchased. (c) Purchase price and payment terms. (d) Default clause. (e) Date of delivery of the property. (f) Due diligence required or done. (g) Representations by the seller and remedies in case of misrepresentation. (h) Obligation by seller of signing the Deed of Sale upon receipt of final payment.
Many attorneys (solicitors) and notaries in the Dominican Republic do not protect the buyer adequately in the Promise of Sale. Among the most common deficiencies are the following:
(a) The buyer is allowed to pay a large percentage of the price of sale without any security or direct interest over the property. In case of misuse of these funds, the buyer's remedies may be limited to suing the seller personally. Many condo buyers in Santo Domingo have suffered through this experience in the last few years. Generally, the developer uses the buyers' funds, along with a bank loan, to finance the construction. The bank collaterizes the loan with a...