Select one of the frequently asked questions below to learn more about buying and selling real estate in Puerto Rico. Contact us for more information.

Question about selling

How long have you been in business?

Island West Properties has been selling homes in Western Puerto Rico since 1993.  Our office staff and agents have the experience to assist you in your property sale and we have years of files with sales transactions from which to draw comparables and property information.

Do you work with other realtors to market your listings?

We work with any Puerto Rico licensed realtors and co-broke any of our properties.  While we are one of the largest brokers on the west coast, and only sign Exclusive Listings, we understand the importance of marketing your listing to other area agents..

What is a broker?

An agent who is authorized to open and run his/her own agency. All real estate offices have one principal broker.  The broker and principal of Island West Properties is James Westfall.

What is the commission amount, how is it split?

The typical commission of the sale is 6% of the sales price.  Typically that commission is split between the seller’s listing agent and the agent bringing the buyer.  It is paid out of the seller’s proceeds.

Can I sell my house on my own and avoid the commission?

Yes, many people do.  But by using a professional Realtor, your listing will be marketed to more people and more buyers will be inclined to purchase with the confidence of having the transaction guided by a professional.  This results in a higher price, which in turn pays for the commission.

Where will you market my property?

Island West Properties has a large visible office right in the downtown Rincon with plenty of foot and car traffic.  We market through our MLS which is fed to Zillow, Trulia, and every large on line realtor website.  We also have two website to market properties, and advertise strategically in print media and alternative sites such as Clasificados online.  Each listing has its own marketing budget and marketing plan to reach its targeted buyers.

What other costs will I have when I sell my house?

There may be preparation costs, such as painting and small repairs.  There may also be lawyer fees, if your title or deed are not in order.  All back taxes will need to be paid.  If you have a mortgage, there will be fees associated with paying off the mortgage.  Finally closing cost would include some lawyer fees and stamps, all depending on the value of the property sold.

Will I have to pay capital gains tax?

If you are a resident of Puerto Rico and you are selling your primary home and purchasing another, you may not have any capital gains.  However, we suggest to all sellers to contact an accountant to make sure they understand what taxes may be applied as the result of the sale.

How long does closing take?

This depends on many factors.  Most properties will need to be inspected and/or surveyed.  If the buyer is purchasing with a mortgage, there will be time needed to get the property appraised and the loan approved.  A typical transaction takes between 45 and 90 days.

Question about buying

Why do I need a real estate agent to buy?

A Realtor can take care of a lot of the leg work when buying a home, especially in Puerto Rico where most properties do not have lockboxes and ease of access.  Engaging a good buyer’s agent will ensure your time is used well and will also provide a knowledgeable partner when the negotiations begin.  Island West Properties has conducted thousands of transactions in its 23 years of operation and we understand and anticipate issues that can arise and prepare the buyer.  Best of all, the seller pays the fee.

How much do I need to make a downpayment?

This will depend on your credit and the appraised value of the property, but typically for a primary residence, the bank will require 20% down.  For a secondary residence or investment property, the down payment would be more 25%.  And for land the down payment would be at least 30%.

What is the difference between being prequalified and preapproved for a loan?

If you’re prequalified it means that you POTENTIALLY could get a loan for the amount stated to you, assuming that all of the information you provide to the bank is accurate and true. This is not as strong as a preapproval.

If you’re preapproved, it means that you have undergone the extensive financial background check, which includes looking at your credit history, previous tax returns and verifying your employment – and the lender is willing to give you a loan, basically meaning you’re approved!

You will usually be provided an accurate figure which shows the maximum amount that you are approved for.  Most sellers prefer buyers that have been pre-approved because they know that there will not be any problems with the purchase of their home.

Can I apply for a mortgage from outside of Puerto Rico?

No.  Mortgages in Puerto Rico must originate from a Puerto Rico bank.  Many of the Puerto Rico banks, First Bank, Banco popular and Oriental, have online mortgage portals that allow you to apply on line, without having to be in Puerto Rico.

How long does the loan process take?

Once again this depends on the bank and their speed at appraising the property and gathering information about the purchaser and the property.  60-120 days.

How is interest calculated on a mortgage loan?

Most mortgages originated today calculate interest in arrears, unlike consumer loans which calculate interest to the date of payment receipt. As an example, when borrowers pay their February mortgage payments, they are paying the January interest. This method of calculating interest is based on a 360 day year in which each month has 30 days.

Can I be confident in my title after I purchase?

Your closing costs include a title search by a lawyer that SHOULD show any problems with the ownership.  For more confidence, title insurance can be purchased as well.

What is title insurance?

Title insurance is insurance that protects the lender and buyer against any losses incurred from disputes over the title of a property.

How much will my closing costs be?

If you do not have a mortgage and are paying cash, the closing costs will be minimal.  The buyer is responsible for paying for an inspection and or survey if needed, lawyer fees for the new deed and stamps for filing the paperwork as well as pro-rated taxes and utilities.  Mortgage costs will be more.

Should I get a home inspection?

We recommend a home inspection by a licensed home inspector on all home purchases.