The Sheer Anarchy of Real Estate in Cuba

by Reno Manuele


For the first time in decades, Cubans are able to buy and sell property, though the real estate market doesn’t have a whole lot of regulations.

In the last few years, there have been some big changes in Cuba. Fidel Castro is no longer in power, having passed the baton to his young brother Raul; citizens are allowed to purchase cell phones; and now, a real estate market has developed in the country – and the result has been sheer anarchy!

As National Geographic recently reported, Cubans are now able to buy and sell real estate for the first time in decades, but their market is bereft of all the guidelines, regulations and safeguards that define real estate in America.

Real Estate in Cuba – a Truly Free Market System

Indeed, as Corey Curwick Dutton wrote further in the Niche Report, aside from one regulation (Cubans are only allowed to sell real estate to citizens and permanent residents of the country) the Cuban real estate market is among the freest in the world:

  • There are no real estate brokerages or MLS’s to speak of.
  • Thus, real estate agents have materialized from all corners to assist in selling property, though none has a license or any legal representation.
  • Furthermore, real estate is such a new concept in Cuba that there are no agreeable values for any of the properties up for sale.
  • So, with such freedom and spontaneity, the Cuba real estate market operates like a classic bazaar, with residents standing in public parks or street corners holding hand-written signs for their properties. Others, Dutton wrote, will nail signs to trees or signs, or even hire children to pass out hand-written flyers.

“Take a moment to imagine a life in real estate without fancy signage, licensed agents, or a formal marketplace to buy and sell,” Dutton wrote. “This is the reality of real estate in Cuba today.”

Laissez-Faire Madness

Of course, the laissez-faire madness of Cuba’s real estate stands in stark contrast to the complex system of the U.S., which has been developed and refined for the last 100 years.

Jean Anderson, an agent with Prudential Rubloff in Lake Forest, said the Cuban market “sounds like a nightmare,” with its lack of regulations, licensing, disclosures, attorneys, title companies, appraisers, mortgage companies, and finally, the Realtor Code of Ethics that real estate in the U.S. utilizes. Such measures, she said, do show a definite positive to American real estate, and how all the various moving parts work together.

“It’s all about cooperation,” Anderson said.

But what are your thoughts? Given its political situation, will Cuba’s real estate market incorporate brokerages, associations, MLS’s and other guidelines slowly, or could we soon see a property boom on the levels of what developed in China?

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