Today’s Editorial February 28: Stamp duty expansion welcomed

Caymanians who have put off the decision to buy a house or a spot of land to build on need wait no longer.

Government has not only kept in place stamp duty concessions for would-be home and property owners, but they have made it more beneficial to the consumer.

Legislation will be tabled that would increase the amount of money that remains free of taxation from $35,000 to $50,000 for first-time raw land buyers and from $150,000 to $200,000 for first-time house buyers.

The move is a good one and should be applauded by all. Anyone who has ventured into the world of real estate recently knows that a decent lot on which to build a house costs more than $35,000 and that a $150,000 house isn’t as big or realistic as it was three or more years ago.

This move will allow buyers to purchase a better quality of real estate.

We would hope that it is a dream of all Caymanians to one day own their own homes.

There are many benefits of home ownership, both to the owner and society at large.

Firstly, those who own their homes aren’t flushing their monthly rental down the drain. Payments made on mortgages are investments. When you pay rent, you never see the money again.

Owning your own home can usually mean more privacy than rental living and homeowners have the luxury of making whatever decorating or style changes they prefer.

Homeowners also benefit the communities in which they live.

Statistics show homeowners are more likely to participate in local organizations, they are more likely to vote, they stay in the neighbourhood for a longer period of time and they are more satisfied with their home and their neighbourhood than renters.

Homeowners typically maintain their property better than renters because they own the house and the land.

Believe it or not, homeownership also benefits children.

A 2000 study in the United States shows that Children of homeowners score better on academic tests, gradate at a higher rate, have fewer behavioural problems and enjoy a better social environment.

One of the aspects of the stamp duty concession is the possibility of a sliding scale being used to keep stamp duty low on the amount of money beyond the cap.

We don’t know yet exactly how the law is going to be worded, but if the amounts covered under the stamp duty policy are expanded, it would be good for Caymanians and the Cayman economy overall.

Kudos to the Government and Opposition for coming up with a win-win proposal.

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