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2004-04-05 17:35:44

Dodgy Land Deals 'Could Wreck The Bahamas Reputation'

''It makes us look like a bunch of pirates, with local lawyers giving the okay to bad deals.''

Realtors are concerned that dubious land deals in which foreigners are being sold acreage with bad title could wreck the Bahamas' international reputation.

Buyers are paying large sums for property with "worthless documentation" sources told The Tribune last night.

It is claimed that some Nassau law firms, either through dishonesty or incompetence, are assuring victims that they have good title to the land when they haven't.

Many of the dodgy deals are taking place in the Family islands. Buyers who think they are buying their own piece of paradise find their is no proper title chain, and that their deeds are useless.

One realtor said, "No one is going to want to buy land in the Bahamas if they hear others have been duped. Some lawyers are telling people their title is good when it's clear it isn't."

"This is something the government needs to look into now before our international reputation is in ruins."

Real estate agent Mike Lightbourn was actually approached by a foreigner who said he was chaining off part of the parking lot next to his office.

The man said he had acquired the land, but Mr. Lightbourn told him he had no right to it.

There is also concern that foreign agents are operating in the Bahamas without proper licence, selling the land without approvals and permits.

"A deed without a registration certificate is a worthless piece of paper," said one realtor.

It is alleged that some lawyers are advising buyers that titles are good when they aren't.

"Some of it is deliberate deception and some is the result of sheer incompetence," said the source.

"All this is going to give the Bahamas a bad name," he said, "It makes us look like a bunch of pirates, with local lawyers giving the okay to bad deals."

The Tribune 

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