What's the Latest Development?
Cuba's real estate market has enjoyed significant growth in the year since the government of President Raúl Castro legalized private buying and selling of homes. Thanks also to increased tourism, helped along by a loosening of US rules regarding flights, buyers -- many of them Cubans who left for Florida during Castro's brother Fidel's regime -- have been snapping up luxury homes in Havana for prices that reach beyond those for similar properties in Miami. Real estate agents, who are technically illegal but tolerated on the island, confirm that "[t]he market is fantastic."
What's the Big Idea?
The Internet is where most buyers are finding homes, with two Web sites -- Detrás de la Fachada and Revolico -- experiencing much of the traffic. On these sites, houses are going for as much as $1 million, even though the prices are listed in much-lower "convertible Cuban pesos." Cuba's law restricts buying and selling to Cuban citizens and those foreigners who have permanent residence status. So even though the actual buyers may be Cuban-American, the sale documents will list the name of a citizen who, most likely, can't afford anywhere near the actual cost of the property.
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