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A Brief Look at Cayman’s History

The Cayman Islands remained largely uninhabited until the 17th century. While there is no archaeological evidence for an indigenous people on the islands, a variety of settlers from various backgrounds made their home on the islands, including pirates, shipwrecked sailors, and deserters from Oliver Cromwell’s army in Jamaica.

Cayman Islands National Museum, George Town, Grand Cayman

The first recorded permanent inhabitant of the Cayman Islands, Isaac Bodden, was born on Grand Cayman around 1661. He was the grandson of the original settler named Bodden who was probably one of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers at the taking of Jamaica in 1655.

England took formal control of the Cayman Islands, along with Jamaica, as a result of the Treaty of Madrid of 1670. Following several unsuccessful attempts at settlement, a permanent English-speaking population in the islands dates from the 1730s. With settlement, after the first royal land grant by the Governor of Jamaica in 1734, came the perceived need for slaves. Many were brought to the islands from Africa; this is evident today with the majority of native Caymanians being of African and English descent. The results of the first census taken in the islands in 1802 showed the population on Grand Cayman to be 933 with 545 of those inhabitants being enslaved. Slavery was abolished in the Cayman Islands in 1833. At the time of abolition, there were over 950 Blacks of African ancestry enslaved by 116 white families of English ancestry.

The islands continued to be governed as part of the Colony of Jamaica until 1962, when they became a separate Crown colony while Jamaica became an independent Commonwealth realm.

The Heroes Square in the centre of George Town, which commemorates Cayman Islands’ war dead. The Legislative Assembly building is at the left.

On 8 February 1794, the Caymanians rescued the crews of a group of ten merchant ships, including HMS Convert, an incident that has since become known as the Wreck of the Ten Sail. The ships had struck a reef and run aground during rough seas.  Legend has it that King George III rewarded the island with a promise never to introduce taxes as compensation for their generosity, as one of the ships carried a member of the King’s own family. While this remains a popular legend, the story is not true.

The Cayman Islands historically has been a tax-exempt destination. The government of the Cayman Islands has always relied on indirect and not direct taxes. The territory has never levied income tax, capital gains tax, or any wealth tax, making them a popular tax haven.


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Special Economic Zone (Cayman Enterprise City)

Special Economic Zone

The Cayman Islands Government is facilitating and encouraging further economic growth and attracting additional international investment through the recent enactment of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Law.  This Law, which specifically caters for exempted companies and exempted limited partnerships, creates an alternative licensing regime, as well as several additional incentives for entities that have already established, or wish to establish, a physical presence in the Islands.

These organizations located in the Special Economic Zone may carry on business in any part of the world, however, business activities conducted in the Cayman Islands are restricted to activities that are in furtherance of offshore business. In other words, they cannot compete in the domestic Cayman Islands market.

The following types of businesses are specifically authorized to operate within the SEZ:

  • Media and Marketing (including digital media, film and broadcasting)
  • Internet and Technology
  • Commodities and Derivatives
  • Biotechnology, Life Sciences and Green Technology
  • Maritime Services and Aviation Services

Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) is Cayman’s first SEZ. Their highly anticipated campus will be just over 50 acres and located in affluent South Sound, Grand Cayman. Until these facilities become available in 2018, there are provisions for existing commercial space to be treated as gateway space into the SEZ. The CEC are already operating out of the HSBC Building and the Grand Pavilion, both on West Bay Road, and several businesses are already operating under the regime.

Reasons to Relocate to CEC

  • 100% exempt from corporate, capital gains, sales, income tax and import duties
  • 100% foreign ownership permitted
  • Renewable five-year work/residence visas granted within five days
  • 4-6 week fast-track set-up of operations
  • Intellectual Property owned offshore
  • No government reporting requirements
  • Strategic base with easy access to lucrative North and Latin American markets
  • On NYC/EST time zone

For more information visit


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Meet Our Friends at Beacon Farms

Beacon Farms – A History

Beacon Farms was the vision of Frank ‘Bud’ Volinsky, Granger Haugh and Scott Haugh. The three worked together on several projects to support sober living with The Bridge Foundation and agreed that there was a need for the next step in rehabilitation. Recidivism levels for those in recovery are increased due to lack of appropriate, safe, sober living environments. Many of those recovering from substance abuse issues have few housing, educational, or employment resources available, and are prone to fall back into old behaviors, and poor decision making, which often results in repeated legal involvement. The vision for Beacon Farms is to facilitate a variety of educational and skills programs for residents who are committed to improving their quality of life and avoiding legal issues.

Scott Haugh, Granger’s son, is a well-respected leader in rehabilitation services and the concept of the ‘Continuum of Care’ in Seattle, Washington. Scott is a Certified Chemical Dependency Professional with nearly a decade of experience in the field. Granger is a successful retired entrepreneur and has ample experience in building business models from the ground floor. Bud is the founder of a very successful transitional housing facility (The Bridge Foundation) and he has a long career in construction management.

The Haugh Family Foundation has provided the investment to purchase the Beacon Farms property along with the needed capital to renovate the structures and till the land in preparation for planting a variety of crops. Scott is providing the professional direction to ensure quality services for the residents assigned to Beacon Farms. Bud has provided the operational leadership and has supervised the overall operation that will facilitate housing and jobs with the vision of a continuum of care for dozens of men and women annually.

The Haugh Family Foundation is led by Granger and Margie Haugh. The couple has a 35-year relationship with the Cayman Islands and recently received permanent residence status.

Farm To Table

Farm to Table is the cornerstone of the entrepreneurial concept called Beacon Farms. Since the property was purchased by the Haugh Family Foundation and leased to this non-profit, many projects followed to prepare the 34-acre parcel for its mission.

The renovation of the two houses was the priority and the construction on both is complete. The men’s house, a two-story facility, will welcome six men and provide space for dining, recreation, educational programs and meetings to support recovery services. Beacon Farms CEO, Bud Volinsky, and his wife Kate are comfortably moved into the second facility, the Manager’s Residence, and they are overseeing day-to-day farming and residents’ activities.

The driveway from Frank Sound Road has been leveled, widened and enhanced to allow the delivery of the heavy equipment needed to clear the land and prepare the soil for planting. Although the property has a history of farming, the foliage had grown-over, necessitating a heavy duty clearing process, which continues as the expansive property is groomed.

One of the workhorses has been the John Deere 5100 Tractor. With a hydraulic hammer head, the John Deere has been grinding up the rock and tilling the soil, handling this monumental task in a timely manner. As crop land is cleared for planting all vegetation is chipped on site and composted so that the soil can be enriched organically. After harvest, crop debris will also be composted on site. Another revenue opportunity gained from the clearing process has been the rock that has been removed and sold to local landowners.

Moving forward, greenhouses will be constructed to develop temperature-controlled germination and cultivation environments for traditional and experimental crops.

Crops Planned for Planting

  • Mangels – Cattle Fodder, Animal Feed
  • Lavender – Oil, Flavorings
  • Sunflowers – Chicken Feed
  • Moringa – Tea Leaves
  • Stevia – Sweetener (Retail)
  • Peppers – Seasoning Peppers (Retail)
  • Tobacco – Cigars

Coconut Processing – Oil, Water, Flower and Husks  

Coconut Products: no longer will Cayman coconuts go to the landfill. Beacon will process its own coconuts and others gathered on Grand Cayman. Coconut Oil, Water, Flour, and Husks will be marketed.

The Beacon Farms garage will be transformed into a soils laboratory and a clean food grade processing area. Soil nutrient testing for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and other nutrients will allow Beacon Farms to produce its crops under organic conditions.

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CIREBA, over 30 years strong!

The Cayman Islands real estate industry is a strong pillar of the local economy and plays a significant part in the annual GDP, being one of the top four industries to contribute to our local economy according to the Economics and Statistics office of the Cayman Islands.

There are currently 34 leading Cayman real estate brokerages governed by the Cayman Island Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA) with approximately 180 local real estate agents.  The vast majority of real estate transactions in the Cayman Islands every year are brokered via this well established and respected association.  Currently there are approximately 1500 properties for sale in CIREBA valued at 1.6 Billion.

But what is CIREBA?  It’s a not-for-profit association that provides a professional and ethical network to the leading independent real estate companies of the Cayman Islands.  It acts as a central source of licensing and information for it’s members and plays a vital role in the local real estate industry.  The Board (currently nine members) serve on a voluntary basis.  Royalties are paid on every CIREBA sale to contribute to the running of the Associations’s mandate of governing their membership.  CIREBA also provides a website, social media and a print magazine that showcases to the public the extensive selection of properties for sale.

To qualify as a CIREBA member, course attendance and on-going examinations are mandatory requirements.  Brokers and agents must follow the associations strict code of business standards, rules and regulations.  A high level of competence and ethics is expected from all members, at the same time CIREBA conducts on-going educational courses, professional development  and shares annual and mandatory training on Anti Money Laundering, compliance and due diligence in order that agents understand the myriad of tasks involved with helping clients buy and sell homes.

CIREBA recently celebrated their 30 year milestone of growth across the Cayman Islands and, as such, we took a step back in time to take a topical look at other notable events from 1987, the year CIREBA was founded;

There were 508 banks Cayman registered.  The vast majority of the largest banks in the world.

The Merchant Shipping Law and Labour Law were passed.

Cayman Airways began twice weekly services to Atlanta and Tampa.

The Cayman Islands made their debut at the Pan American Games in Indiana.

Eastern Airlines began daily service to Cayman.

A nursery wing was added to the George Town Hospital.

Grand Cayman celebrated the opening of the Hyatt hotel.

The Harquail Theatre opened.

The Real Estate Industry was already showing great potential, the offshore financial markets were growing exponentially, and it was in 1987 that a small group of already well-established realtors decided to start the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association. (CIREBA)  It was their desire to unify the industry and create a higher standard of practice in the local real estate business.  They realized that sharing available property listings was beneficial for all parties involved, as it meant they could consult with one agent who had access to all listings with the ability to co-operate or co-broke with other companies and agents, and thus the CIREBA Multiple Listing System (MLS) was born.

Additionally, the association established a set of commission rates which meant all CIREBA companies were operating at the same fee structure, affording a level playing field.

The addition of multiple listing system (MLS) took the Cayman Islands Real Estate Industry to the next level.  It was the first of it’s kind in the Caribbean region and it created an actual inventory of all it’s members’ property listings which was easily accessible to each member of the Association creating a mutual space to connect real estate members to bring buyers and sellers together.  The MLS is based on the North American System and allows agents to locate any available properties that suit their purchasers’ requirements quickly and efficiently in a standardized format that is transparent and detailed.  The marketplace is more dynamic and efficient for it.

One often hears commentary around our small islands that the real estate fees regulated by CIREBA are excessive.  Research shows that this indeed is a fallacy, as compared to North America and Latin America rates, CIREBA fees are on par or less than industry standard given the cost of conducting business in The Cayman Islands.

Jeanette Totten, President of CIREBA states; “As we proudly look back at 30 + years of accomplishments, hard work and success within CIREBA and the Cayman Islands Real Estate Industry, I would like to congratulate each of the individuals who had the foresight to start CIREBA.  Today we can proudly say that, thanks to hard work, dedication and passion for the real estate industry, CIREBA has strong ethical, well trained and thriving members of which we are very proud.  I am honoured to be President of CIREBA.”

Today, CIREBA can look back over the past 30 years and be confident that it has established unwavering stability and a high standard of real estate practice which is the envy of the region.  Interesting to note is that several other islands including Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas have taken principles and guidance from CIREBA when setting up their Real Estate Associations & MLS systems in recent years.

CIREBA is a community minded body, with annual donations to several local charities including a significant contribution of $100,000 to benefit our new Hospice Care building.

To learn more about the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association, please visit:












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Buying Procedures




(by Kass Coleman at RE/MAX Cayman Islands)


Once you make a written offer and complete it (as purchaser), we present it to the vendor. The vendor either accepts it as it is or can make a “counter offer”. Once the contract is agreed-upon and properly signed up, the property is then considered “pending”.  If there are conditions to the offer, it is shown as “pending with conditions” (shown as PEN/CON in the system).  We can explain more to you about this. You would then proceed to make the required deposit per Clause 3 “Manner of Payment”); work would begin on any of the conditions that were stated in the contract per Clause #5.

At this time, we would contact your attorney (for your benefit and peace of mind, we highly suggest that you use an attorney) to let them know the current situation regarding the contract.  If financing is involved, we will also contact them to see if they need assistance with valuations, sales history, etc on the subject property and keep in touch with all the involved parties to ensure a smooth closing.

After all the conditions have been satisfied and are in writing to the vendor, the deposit becomes non-refundable (but stays in the account in which it was placed, per Clause 4 of the contract) and a firm closing date is set.  A “Search and Stay” is placed on the property’s land title at a cost of CI$50 (US$60.98 and paid for by the purchaser.  The Search and Stay form ensures there are no outside interests in the property. Since Government guarantees all Land Titles (there is NO  Title insurance in Cayman), this is assurance that you are buying what is represented and that there are no encumbrances on the title.

At closing, the purchaser needs to have all funds available for the vendor and any other expenses – legal fees, utilities deposits, Strata (Association) fees, etc. The amount due to the vendor by the purchaser is detailed on Purchaser’s and Vendor’s Closing Statements, either prepared by your attorney or by our office. All parties involved (sales agents, attorneys, property managers) will work closely together to ensure that all aspects of the sale are handled promptly to ensure that there are no surprises on the day of closing. The sales commission is always paid for by the vendor and all items detailed on the closing statements are distributed at closing.  The fully signed Transfer of Land (title deed) documents and Stamp Duty check are delivered by hand to the Land Registry Department for processing.  About 2 weeks later, the purchaser’s name will appear as the new owner on the title and this information is a matter of public record.   Once this is done, we will provide you with a copy of the Land Register for your record.

Other than Stamp Duty, you will owe no other monies to the Government for the entire time you own your property.  Cayman has no capital gains tax, inheritance tax or any other form of direct taxation on property.  The purchasing party always pays the Stamp Duty. 


Approximate Closing Costs borne by the Purchaser in addition to the Purchase Price:


  • Search & Stay Registration CI$50 (US$60.98)


  • Purchase Agreement Registration CI$100 (US$121.95)


  • Stamp Duty is 7.5% of the Purchase Property less the value of chattels


  • Registration Fees (to get title in your name) CI$50 (US$60.98)


  • Legal Fees (if applicable)- usually 1-2% of the value of the transaction (or some firms offer a flat rate)


  • Banking Fees (if applicable) – usually 1% of the value of the loan (some banks charge less than that)


  • Utility Deposits – phone, lights, water and cable TV, say- CI$600 (US$730.00). (Fees vary depending on whether you will rent out or live in the property)