Today’s Editorial May 01: Home ownership vital

One of the important government initiatives announced during Friday’s Budget Address, Throne Speech and Policy Statement concern efforts to make home ownership easier for Caymanians.

Citing the rising cost of property, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the dream of home ownership is becoming more and more difficult to realise for many Caymanians.

If Caymanians are unable to afford homes in their own country, and expatriates on the other hand, are able to afford homes, it is a recipe for social disaster.

Recognising this, the Government has proposed in its budget and policy statement several measures that will address the problem.

First, it will reduce the stamp duty on property purchased by Caymanian individuals to four per cent, except in the area of the West Bay Beach corridor and certain parts of George Town.

In addition, Caymanians acquiring property for the first time will pay no stamp duty on land priced up to $50,000 or on property with a residential building priced up to $200,000.

For land priced between $50,000 and $75,000, and for property priced between $200,000 and $300,000, the stamp duty rate will be two per cent for Caymanians acquiring property for the first time.

These stamp duty reduction measures represent even more of a concession than the Government announced earlier this year.

However, even with these stamp duty reductions, some Caymanians can still not afford to buy property because of their inability to qualify for a loan using the commercial banking system. So in addition to the stamp duty measures, the Government announced some other plans to address the problem.

Mr. Tibbetts said the National Housing and Community and Development Trust is taking the steps to subdivide government land at its Eastern Avenue and Fairbanks affordable housing sites.

The government is currently working with the private sector to develop plans for single family homes on those lots. After reviewing applications from interested and needy families, the NHCDT will transfer that land at no cost to the qualified applicants that can obtain a mortgage on the basis of the construction costs only.

The Government also said it will facilitate the provision of affordable multi-family housing developments for those who could not service a mortgage.

On top of all of that, Mr. Tibbetts said the Government was seriously considering reviving the Government-guaranteed Home Mortgage Scheme.

Owning a home in which to raise families is vital for Caymanians, many of whom feel they are losing control of their own country.

We commend the Government for taking the steps to make it easier for Caymanians to own a place they can truly call home.