How to own a home in par­adise

Mau­ri­tius has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion al­low­ing for­eign­ers to own prop­erty on the beau­ti­ful is­land. Lea Jacobs in­ves­ti­gates

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

WHILE Mau­ri­tius with its glo­ri­ous white sandy beaches and aqua­ma­rine sea is a won­der­ful place to visit, more and more South Africans are mak­ing a per­ma­nent move to the small is­land in the In­dian Ocean. This trop­i­cal eden not only houses a grow­ing num­ber of South African ex­pats, it is also be­com­ing home to an in­creas­ing num­ber of Euro­peans drawn by the life­style this lit­tle piece of par­adise of­fers.

Ryan Proksch, sales di­rec­tor from Hayes, Matkovich and As­so­ciates, which is mar­ket­ing two de­vel­op­ments on the is­land, says the fact that the coun­try of­fers one of the low­est tax regimes in the world con­tin­ues to fuel in­vest­ment.

“The coun­try has a flat rate of 15% for both cor­po­rate and in­come tax pay­ers. In ad­di­tion leg­is­la­tion al­lows for free repa­tri­a­tion of prof­its, div­i­dends and cap­i­tal. Per­haps most im­por­tantly for those in­vest­ing on the is­land, there is a dou­ble tax­a­tion avoid­ance treaty in place with more than 30 coun­tries.”

Apart from the ob­vi­ous tax ben­e­fits, the is­land of­fers a unique life­style and is ideal for those who want to fol­low the sun. Un­til re­cently, the Mau­ri­tian gov­ern­ment guarded for­eign land own­er­ship jeal­ously and it was vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for out­siders to buy prop­erty. With the in­tro­duc­tion of the In­te­grated Re­sort Scheme (IRS) in 2002, gov­ern­ment al­lowed for­eign­ers to in­vest in ded­i­cated prop­erty projects. Un­der the scheme, in­vestors are per­mit­ted to pur­chase lux­ury prop­er­ties with a min­i­mum en­try level of US $500 000, with a fixed land duty of $70 000. Once the prop­erty is ac­quired, the in­vestor and his fam­ily are granted res­i­den­tial sta­tus for as long as they re­tain own­er­ship.

The ini­tia­tive ap­pears to have been wel­comed by a large num­ber of in­vestors from around the world. Proksch says that at this stage, the ma­jor­ity of in­vestors hail from France and SA. “Our main fo­cus has ob­vi­ously been on the SA mar­ket, with 60% of buy­ers hav­ing come from SA. We have, in the past few years, seen an in­crease in buy­ers from other South- ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) coun­tries, namely An­gola and Zim­babwe. Al­though France is cur­rently a strong mar­ket con­tender, we are see­ing more in­ter­est from other Euro­pean coun­tries.”

The coun­try has re­sponded to the chal­lenge of hous­ing and cater­ing for for­eign­ers needs and vast im­prove­ments to in­fra­struc­ture have been un­der­taken. This is par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent in the ar­eas where var­i­ous IRS schemes have been or are be­ing de­vel­oped.

Proksch says that Black River in par­tic­u­lar, a small town on the west coast, is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ma­jor de­vel­op­ment. Com­mer­cial projects have boomed over the past few years and as one of the most pop­u­lar ar­eas for ex­pats to set­tle, the area has a num­ber of es­tab­lished and newly built com­mer­cial cen­tres. There are two well-known su­per­mar­kets cur­rently op­er­at­ing in the town and a renowned SA su­per­mar­ket will be open­ing a branch in the area soon.

South African re­tail com­pa­nies have seen the po­ten­tial the is­land of­fers and a num­ber of the larger groups have ei­ther opened shops or are in the process of es­tab­lish­ing branches in the re­gion.

“Has­sle-free, no-stress easy liv­ing and se­cu­rity are among Mau­ri­tius’s most im­por­tant as­sets,” says Proksch.

Con­struc­tion re­cently started on a marine de­vel­op­ment, La Balise Ma­rina. The only de­vel­op­ment sit­u­ated on a ma­rina on the is­land, it is also the only free­hold prop­erty in Mau­ri­tius with di­rect ac­cess to the wa­ter.

Con­sist­ing of 113 units, the de­vel­op­ment cov­ers 14,4ha of prime river and canal frontage prop­erty and con­sists of 96 du­plex units and 17 vil­las. All the prop­er­ties have a moor­ing at­tached, most will have swim­ming pools.

The two and three bed­room du­plexes range in size from 135m² to 170m². The vil­las will be built on stands mea­sur­ing be­tween 1 200m² and 1 500m², de­pend­ing on whether the in­vestor chooses the three bed­room, three bath­room op­tion or the five bed­room, five bath­room unit. De­liv­ery of first 55 units is set for the third quar­ter of next year.

There was a great deal of in­ter­est in the de­vel­op­ment when it was first launched, says Proksch. “Ob­vi­ously, the fi­nan­cial cri­sis ex­pe­ri­enced across the globe slowed sales briefly, al­though in­ter­est in the de­vel­op­ment has peaked once again. The en­try level units, priced at $500 000, have been snapped up and are com­pletely sold out. The two-bed­room du­plexes are priced from around the US$ 735 000 mark, the three-bed­room du­plexes start at about $893 000 and three-to five-bed­room vil­las have an en­try-level price of $2,5m, ex­clud­ing all taxes.”

Proksch says the de­vel­op­ers have fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing a prod­uct that en­com­passes a com­plete life­style. “Apart from the fi­nan­cial gains ex­pected by ow­ing prop­erty on a ma­rina, buy­ers will en­joy a num­ber of other ben­e­fits.

The site will house a “ho­tel heart” ac­ces­si­ble to all res­i­dents, and will pro­vide restau­rant fa­cil­i­ties, a spa, a gym and a rim flow pool. In ad­di­tion there will be a wel­come cen­tre with a lap pool and a ten­nis court. There will also be a com­mer­cial cen­tre on site which will house a su­perette, cof­fee shop and restau­rant and a few key shops.”

The de­vel­op­ers of La Balise Ma­rina are in the process of com­plet­ing other projects in nearby Bel Om­bre. Price: From US$735 000 Con­tact: Hayes, Matkovich and As­so­ciates Ryan Proksch 073 392 3233 Of­fice 011 234 2180

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