Buying real estate in Gabon as a foreigner?

We've created a guide to help you avoid pitfalls, save time, and make the best long-term investment possible.

Buying property in Gabon as a foreigner: a full guide

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Everything you need to know is included in our Gabon Property Pack

Gabon, with its stunning landscapes, vibrant cultural heritage, and warm-hearted locals, attracts numerous foreigners seeking real estate investment opportunities.

However, navigating the intricacies of purchasing property in a foreign land can be challenging, particularly concerning the legal framework and regulations involved.

That's why this guide is here to help! We'll explain how the property market works in Gabon in a simple and easy-to-understand way, covering everything you need to know.

Also, for a more in-depth analysis, you can check our property pack for Gabon.

Can you purchase and own a property in Gabon as a foreigner?

When it comes to purchasing real estate in Gabon as a foreigner, there are several important factors to consider.

These factors range from ownership rights to specific requirements and regulations that may differ from those applicable to local citizens.

Firstly, regarding the ownership of land, Gabon, like many countries, has certain restrictions and conditions for foreigners.

In general, foreigners can buy and own property in Gabon, but there are usually more regulations compared to local buyers. This might include additional paperwork or approvals needed.

One crucial aspect is whether foreigners are allowed to own land outright. In some countries, foreign ownership is limited to leasehold, meaning you can use the land for a specified period. Gabon may have similar restrictions, where outright ownership (freehold) is reserved for Gabonese citizens, while foreigners may be limited to long-term leases.

The rights of foreign buyers may differ from locals in several ways.

For instance, the process might be more stringent, requiring more documentation, or there may be areas where foreign ownership is restricted or prohibited. This is often to protect local interests or due to national security concerns.

Special rules can also apply depending on the bilateral agreements and diplomatic relations between Gabon and the foreigner's home country.

Some countries have reciprocal real estate ownership agreements, which can simplify the process for their citizens.

Regarding residency requirements, it's not uncommon for countries to require foreign real estate buyers to have some form of residency status. However, this varies widely, and in some cases, owning property in Gabon might even be a pathway to obtaining residency.

In terms of visas and permits, buying property in a foreign country usually doesn't automatically grant you a right to reside there. You might still need to obtain a visa or residency permit in accordance with Gabonese immigration laws. This process is typically separate from the property buying process.

Governmental authorization is another aspect to consider. In many countries, foreign buyers need approval from certain government bodies or need to register their purchase with a government agency. This is often a formality but can be crucial for the legality of the purchase.

Minimum investment requirements are also a possibility. Some countries encourage foreign investment in real estate by setting minimum investment amounts, which can sometimes be tied to residency or citizenship by investment programs.

Can you become a resident in Gabon by buying and owning a property?

Gabon didn't have a specific residency-by-investment program linked directly to real estate purchases, unlike some other countries that offer such programs to attract foreign investors.

However, this doesn't mean that owning property in Gabon can't be a part of your pathway to residency; it's just not a straightforward or guaranteed route.

In general, countries that do offer residency in exchange for real estate investment have clearly defined programs. These programs typically include a minimum investment amount, specific types of eligible properties, and other criteria like background checks and health insurance requirements.

Since Gabon doesn't have such a program, obtaining residency would follow the standard immigration procedures, which are typically based on factors like employment, family ties, or long-term visas.

If you're interested in gaining residency in Gabon, owning property there could be a beneficial factor but not a decisive one. It might demonstrate your commitment to living in the country and your financial stability, which are positive factors in many residency applications.

However, you'd still need to meet all the standard requirements for residency, which could include having a job in Gabon, marrying a Gabonese citizen, or qualifying for a long-term visa based on other criteria.

Regarding the length of residency and the path to citizenship, these are generally defined by immigration laws and vary from temporary to permanent residency.

Temporary residency might be granted initially, with the possibility of applying for permanent residency after a certain period.

Citizenship usually comes after an extended period of permanent residency and often requires fulfilling additional criteria like language proficiency, cultural integration, and a clean legal record.

Thinking of buying real estate in Gabon?

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Market metrics

You can find fresh and updated data in our pack of documents related to the real estate market in Gabon.

If we check the the GDP per capita indicator, it seems that Gabonese people have become -2.1%poorer over the last 5 years.

When the population becomes poorer, their interest in real estate also diminishes, and that can make prices decrease down the road.

Looking at the data reported by Numbeo, we can see that rental properties in Gabon offer gross rental yields between 0.4% and 3.1%.

You might know it already but when rental yields are minimal, investors might face challenges in covering expenses related to property ownership, such as mortgage payments, maintenance costs, property taxes, and insurance.

To know more, you can also read our dedicated article: is it a good time to buy a property in Gabon?

Daily life of an expat

Life as an expat in Gabon can be both rewarding and challenging.

The country is rich in natural resources and has a unique culture, but it can be difficult to adjust to the local customs and language. Expats will find that the cost of living is relatively low, and the climate is generally warm and pleasant.

There is a wide range of activities to enjoy, from exploring the rainforest to relaxing on the beaches.

Expats may find that the infrastructure is not as developed as other countries, and there may be limited access to healthcare and other services.

Overall, Gabon is a great place to live and work, and expats should be prepared to embrace the culture and make the most of their experience.

What are the best places to purchase a property in Gabon?

This table summarizes some of the best places to buy a property in Gabon.

City / Region Population Average Price per sqm (XAF) Strengths
Libreville ≈ 800,000 300,000 - 600,000 Capital city, economic center, international schools, modern amenities
Port-Gentil ≈ 150,000 200,000 - 400,000 Oil industry hub, seaside location, expat community
Lambaréné ≈ 30,000 100,000 - 200,000 Albert Schweitzer Hospital, Ogooué River, tranquil atmosphere
Franceville ≈ 60,000 100,000 - 200,000 Manganese mining, wildlife parks, access to Ivindo National Park
Port-Gentil ≈ 50,000 100,000 - 200,000 Seaside town, fishing, access to Loango National Park
Oyem ≈ 60,000 80,000 - 150,000 Trade and transportation hub, cultural festivals
Mouila ≈ 25,000 80,000 - 150,000 Forest town, access to Ivindo National Park, natural beauty

Do you need a lawyer to buy a property in Gabon?

When purchasing a property in Gabon, engaging a local lawyer can be crucial in navigating the legal requirements and ensuring a successful transaction.

One important document they can assist with is the Purchase Agreement (Contrat de Vente), a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.

The Gabonese lawyer can also help with conducting a Property Title Search (Recherche de Titre Foncier) to verify the property's ownership status and identify any potential legal issues or encumbrances.

Moreover, they can guide you through the process of obtaining necessary permits and approvals, such as approval from the local Land Registry or relevant authorities.

They will ensure that all applicable taxes and fees, such as the Property Transfer Tax and Notary Fees, are paid correctly and in compliance with Gabonese laws and regulations.

What are the risks when buying real estate in Gabon?

We've got an article dedicated to the risks associated with purchasing property in Gabon.

When buying a property in Gabon, there are some risks that are not common in other countries.

One of the main risks is the lack of transparency in the property market. It is difficult to get reliable information on the ownership of properties, which can lead to potential conflicts between buyers and sellers. Another risk is the lack of legal protection for foreign investors. Gabon has no laws to protect foreign investors from fraud or other risks associated with property transactions. Finally, the lack of infrastructure and public services in Gabon can make it difficult to access basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation when purchasing a property.

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Everything you need to know is included in our Gabon Property Pack

What are the documents needed for a real estate transaction in Gabon?

When buying a property in Gabon, the following documents are needed:

1. Title deed or proof of ownership of the property

2. Tax clearance certificate

3. Notarized contract of sale

4. Identity documents of the buyer and seller

5. Authorization from the Minister of Mines in the case of a mining property

6. Certificate of occupancy and zoning

7. Declaration of the property with the Gabonese tax authorities

We review each of these documents and tell you how to use them in our property pack for Gabon.

What are the tips for negotiating with people from Gabon effectively?

Begin the property negotiation with informal conversation and personal connections, as Gabonese people value building trust and relationships before engaging in business discussions.

Show respect for elders and seek their advice or involvement in the negotiation process, as age and wisdom hold significant importance in Gabonese culture, often influencing decisions.

Finally, consider including non-monetary incentives or benefits in the deal, such as offering to support local community projects or providing opportunities for employment, as Gabonese people prioritize communal well-being and social responsibility.

Can foreigners obtain a bank loan in Gabon?

In theory, foreigners are generally allowed to obtain property loans in Gabon, subject to certain conditions and requirements, although it remains relatively uncommon.

To obtain a property loan in Gabon as a foreigner, you typically need a valid residence permit, a stable income, a good credit history, and may be required to make a down payment of a certain percentage of the property's value.

Foreigners might try their chance for mortgages with banks such as BGFIBank Gabon, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Gabon, and Ecobank Gabon in Gabon.

It's worth noting that mortgage rates in Gabon for a 20-year term range between 18% and 22%, which can pose significant barriers to borrowing money. Foreigners should consider exploring alternative financing options.

What are the taxes related to a property transaction in Gabon?

Here is a breakdown of taxes related to a property transaction in Gabon.

Tax Description Calculation Who pays
Value Added Tax (VAT) Tax on new properties or construction 18% of the sale price determined by the parties or the real property value, whichever is higher Seller
Rental Income Tax Tax on rental income generated from the property 15% of the rental value after deducting 25% of the value for deterioration and maintenance Owner
Capital Gains Tax Tax on the profit from the sale of the property 20% on the net capital gain (the difference between sale price and acquisition cost) Seller
Transfer Tax A tax levied on the transfer of property or real estate transactions 1.5% of the property value Buyer
Stamp Duty A tax charged on the legal documents involved in property transfers, such as the sales contract or deed Usually a fixed percentage (around 1-2%) of the property's sale value Buyer

For a deeper dive into the calculation, refer to:
- the Gabonese Ministry of Commerce's website
- the Gabonese Directorate General of Taxes's website

What fees are involved in a property transaction in Gabon?

Below is a simple breakdown of fees for a property transaction in Gabon.

Fee Description Calculation Who pays
Property Registration Fee Fee paid for registering the property transfer with the relevant government authority 6% of property value plus an additional 2% when the property is located in Libreville or Port Gentil Buyer
Notary Fee Fees charged by the notary for their services in overseeing the property transfer process Generally varies between 1% and 2% of property value Buyer
Real Estate Agent Commission Fees paid to the real estate agent for their assistance in the property sale Around 2% to 5% of the property sale price Seller

To learn more about the calculation, please refer to:
- the Gabonese Directorate General of Taxes's website

Buying real estate in Gabon can be risky

An increasing number of foreign investors are showing interest in Gabon. However, 90% of them will make mistakes. Avoid the pitfalls with our comprehensive guide.

buying property foreigner Gabon