How to own a home in paradise
Mauritius has introduced legislation allowing foreigners to own property on the beautiful island. Lea Jacobs investigates
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