Meet Robert Macaechern, co-founder of Realtor DR as he talks about how and why he and Brett Henry started RealtorDR, and co-broking opportunities for you!
The sky is clear and the steady breeze flows over the beach like a cool drink on a hot day, and the mellow pounding of the surf on the rocks below makes me feel like staying here forever, mesmerizing me into a fully relaxed, yet wide awake, calm version of myself.
That’s how I felt the last time I was in the Dominican Republic, and I believe that’s how I’ll feel again when I go back there again, which will hopefully be sometime soon; work, pandemic, and home responsibilities-permitting. When I do go, I will be staying in Sosua, which is in the Puerto Plata Province, and which also happens to be the home of my friend Robert Maceachern, who is one of the Canadian founders of a real estate brokerage in the Dominican Republic called RealtorDR.com.
I’m always fascinated by people who’ve managed to overcome the challenges of opening and operating a successful business outside of Canada. And after speaking today with Robert, I have an expanded appreciation of the underestimated level of difficulty that Canadian Realtors have to work within in order to do business here in Canada, as well as an admiration of the dedication involved to be able to create a system in another country in which clients and agents from Canada, and from other countries around the world feel both comfortable and familiar with. Realtor DR really bridges the gap between the way business is done here in Canada, and the way business is done in The Dominican Republic.
If you’re a realtor, and have clients looking for a vacation or investment property, or if you happen to be one of those clients yourself, please read on, I think you might find some interesting tidbits in the highlights of my interview with Robert Maceachern from RealtorDR.com
A Real Estate Business in The Dominican Republic
Scott: Quick intro Who is RealtorDR?
Robert: RealtorDR is a real estate company on Dominican’s North Coast located in Sosua, Puerto Plata. As Canadians, we saw a market need for an ethical real estate company who operates in the client’s best interest, not solely in the interest of the agents.
Scott: What is Realtor DR’s experience and credentials in real estate?
Robert: Brett Henry, President of RealtorDR, has been a realtor on the north coast working for DRListings for the past 3 years. Hennah Perez, our lead agent, was working with Century21 for the past 8 years and has incredible knowledge. All other founding members have extensive business experience from Canada and Dominican Republic. These include sales in a highly competitive and regulated customer oriented fields such as healthcare, nutrition, renovation and home construction, social media, hospitality, and interior design to name a few.
Scott: Are you a Broker? A listing service? A network of realtors across the country? the world? All of the above?
Robert: Currently we are a Brokerage who is creating a multiple listing service in RealtorDR.com. We have modeled our website after Realtor.ca and Realtor.com to give our North American clients the same look and feel on our website, (its something familiar!.) We are in the process of creating a network of ethical realtors across The Dominican Republic who put the clients best interests ahead of their own.
Scott: How long have you been operating?
Robert: RealtorDR officially received our Dominican Republic License and started operation in January of 2021, but we have been leading up to this moment for a while now, and it took a really long time to fully prepare to be able to properly offer the services that we do, and to put in place the systems that give our clients the experience that feels like the one they have with their Realtor back home.
We want to give our clients the experience that feels like the one they have with their Realtor back home.
Scott: Why did you choose DR and why specifically the location where you made your office?
Robert: The DR and specifically the DR’s North Coast is experiencing an unprecedented construction boom, and there are a lot of tax exemptions for foreigners here when it comes to buying real estate. There’s a lot of other reasons too, but those are a couple of the big ones.
Scott: Specifically to co-brokering a sale with RealtorDR: Are there licensing laws or regulations that I need to know about as an agent?
Robert: Real estate transactions in the Dominican Republic are governed by the Property Registry Law and the Title Registry Offices. There is no license requirement for agents. That is why it’s very important to work with an ethical company who has access to the most listings and best understands the client’s expectations.
Scott: Can you speak to the stability of the economy and the real estate market in DR?
Robert: For over 25 years, the country has witnessed robust economic growth. Economic activity expanded 10.6% year-on-year in March 2021 (February: +1.1% year-over-year).
This marked the best result since 2013, and was powered by strong growth in the construction, mining, transport and manufacturing sectors. Moreover, the contraction in the hotels and restaurants sector eased as tourist arrivals picked up.
Over the first Quarter as a whole, the economy expanded 3.1%, likely making the Dominican Republic one of Central America and the Caribbean’s top performers.
Growth in the Second Quarter will likely rise further due to base effects, given the global pandemic was at its height in Q2 2020. The year-on-year expansion will likely then moderate later in the year but stay robust.
Focus Economics panelists see the economy growing 5.1% in 2021, unchanged from last month’s forecast, before expanding 4.7% in 2022.
Scott: Let’s say I am a Realtor in Canada and I have clients interested in buying a home in the Dominican Republic. I want to ensure my clients are treated right. Do realtors in your company have to sign a code of ethics ?
Robert: Yes, we have a robust code of conduct and ethics our Agents need to adhere to. Anyone that does not adhere to the code, simply put, would not be employed by RealtorDR.
Scott: What does the real estate transaction look like in DR?
Robert: With us, it’s virtually the same Procedure as in North America where there is an offer to purchase drawn up by the agent or broker, negotiations happen and the final paperwork is sent over to the lawyer. The lawyer will then create something called the promise of sale, which is the legally binding contract between the purchaser and the seller. Like at home, the deposit is held in escrow with the lawyer until the close of the property.
One thing to remember is that there are no exclusive listings, or very few, in the DR, meaning multiple brokerages can list the same property.
Scott: How about Client Financing requirements/rates/lenders
Robert: Scotiabank is the major bank in regards to mortgages. Rates are currently as low as 3.75% on a 4 year fixed term and 4.75% on a 5 year fixed term. They have 4 main criteria, we detail them in our blog “How to make Dominican Republic your Second Home.”
(Here they are)
- Credit Score: In Canada 680 Minimum. In the USA 660 Minimum
- Loan to Value: 70% Minimum
- Net Worth (down payment out of the calculation) 1:1 or 1 ≥ 1 – Assets must be equal to or greater than Liabilities
- Debt Ratio 35% minimum
Scott: How can my client pay the deposit?
Robert: Deposits are sent to the lawyer’s bank account in the USA and held in escrow.
Scott: What are the other costs involved?
Robert: Lawyers charge 1% of the sale of the house
Land Transfer tax is 3%, however if your property is in a tourist area and is a brand new property, the development might have “confotour,” which means there isn’t any land transfer tax as it is a tourist area.
Scott: How much is the average sale?
Robert: On average, on the north coast, the average is $350,000USD.
Scott: How much is the average commission?
Robert: 5-10% Commission on a sale.
Scott: How many days are properties currently listed before they sell?
Robert: This could depend on the area in which your house is located and how heavily it is marketed. As a rule of thumb, we like to have our listings sold within 3 months with a detailed review of the online analytics, the marketing plan and price with the seller every 30 days. We also review all of the feedback from our showings.
Scott: If I just sent you a client, How much can I get paid?
Robert: As a co-broking agent, we are willing to give 50% of our commission to you.
Scott: Can I stay in Canada or do I have to come down with my clients?
Robert: You can stay in home, all we need is your clients name and contact details and our team will handle the rest!
Scott: Do I have to pay taxes in DR?
Robert: No you will not have to pay taxes in the DR. We would simply transfer the money to your paypal account.
Scott: How do I get my money into my Canadian bank account?
Robert: The easiest way is to deposit the money into a paypal account.
Scott: What are usual costs for wiring the money back?
Robert: These differ from bank to bank and from amount to amount. If you are moving
$400,000 Canadian dollars, it should cost you roughly $200 dollars for the wire transfer.
Scott: Can I open an account in DR and keep my money there to spend when I visit my own property?
Robert: The short answer is yes you can, however you should come down in person to open your bank account.
Scott: Thank you Robert for taking the time to talk to me today, I appreciate the work you’re doing helping people from Canada and the US make awesome real estate moves happen in the Dominican Republic. I look forward to coming down soon and looking at what’s available.
Robert: For sure! We’ll even send a car to the airport to pick you up and show you around!