If you are looking for luxury real-estate at bargain prices, the Dominican Republic is the place to find it. The Caribbean has always been a popular destination for investment property and as such has always commanded a high premium. But not so the Dominican Republic.
Good quality real estate is surprisingly cheap here. Apartments can be bought for as little as $30,000 with a 5 minute walk to a lovely beach. 3 Bedroom villas with a garden and pool can likewise be found for under $100,000. Real estate in the DR is usually priced in dollars when it's property that would apeal to foreigners, such as in the coastal resorts. Bear in mind that if $100,000 sounds cheap for a villa, the average Dominican could not afford to purchase something at that price with their wage. Small apartments in the main cities can even be found for less than $15,000, or around 900,000RD (Dominican Pesos).
Why is property so cheap in the Dominican Republic? The DR has not had the same stable political and economic background that many other countries have enjoyed. It still suffers some of the legacy of unrest. Everyday items such as fuel have in the past escalated in price and even rationed. The Dominican Peso has had a slightly roler-coaster ride. However, none of these reasons make real estate an unwise investment.
Many expats from the US, Canada and Europe have happily purchased a home in the sun and are not about to regret it. The lifestyle in the Domincan Republic is laid-back and may take some getting used to if you are used to a hectic lifestyle. But there is always plenty going on, whether you live near the beach or in a city. The two main cities are Santo Domingo in the south and Santiago in the north. Many expats choose to buy a home on the north coast in the Puerto Plata region. The small city of Puerto Plata offers many facilities including schools and heathcare, while smaller towns such as Sosua and Cabarete offer property buyers a variety of beach and and sporting activities.
If you can't yet make the jump to live in the Dominican Republic, then you could always buy an investment property or second home here. There are many real-estate agents who can manage the rental of your property while you are away, and you may find that the rental income more than covers the payments for the loan. It's rare to borrow money for property in the DR. You will likely find that you can borrow money much more cheaply in your home country. Dominican interest rates are around 20% at the time of writing.
There are a few good websites to start your search for your dream home in the Caribbean. Start with Dominican Real Estate and Dominican Property - both websites have real-estate from a range of different real estate agents so you can get a feel for the prices. Then when you are ready to buy, take a trip to the Dominican Republic and view the properties for yourself. Don't be tempted to buy the first one you see though. Spend some time exploring the possibilities as prices from different agents can vary considerably, especially when selling to foreigners.
When you find a property you like, ensure you use a reliable lawyer to conduct the purchase. As with all things, there are good lawyers and less competant or even dishonest ones, so do your research.