1. Wide of Malecon Avenue in Havana and Morro Castle in background
2. Wide of residential buildings
3. Zoom out from sign on property reading (Spanish): “Exchange 1×2” (referring to houses)
4. Tilt down website Revolico.com showing adverts of houses for sale
5. Wide exterior of Tania Duran’s house
6. Wide of Duran and her husband Fernando Ramiro in their dining room
7. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Tania Duran, Owner of House for sale:
“Before, if there was a sign of a house for sale or purchase it could be considered illegal. It could cost you your house and it was a very sad situation. Now I’m very happy and I think we all are because now you can do it. It will be easier, there’s nobody stopping you, no troubles. Apparently there will be no bureaucracy and no obstacles.”
8. Duran and Ramiro walking through their house
9. Close-up of sign reading (Spanish) “Municipal Housing Bureau”
10. Wide of people entering bureau
11.SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Juan Jose Pena, hoping to sell house:
“This law is very good. Because we will have the facilities of selling and buying houses to whoever has the money. Before you couldn’t do it. There were families with one or two houses who couldn’t sell them.”
12. Mid of people waiting inside bureau
13. Wide of Malecon Avenue and Havana City in background
A new law allowing Cubans to openly buy and sell real-estate took effect on Thursday.
The highly anticipated new rules also allow Cubans to bequeath property to relatives without restriction and avoid forfeiting their homes if they abandon the country.
The law instantly transforms islanders’ cramped, dilapidated homes into potential liquid assets – and it’s the most significant reform yet adopted by President Raul Castro since he took over the communist country from his brother in 2008.
Listings on Revolico.com, a classified ad website, have mushroomed since the law was announced last week.
Prices ranged from the tens of thousands into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – and one seller wants a cool 1 (m) million US dollars for an oceanside villa in the resort town of Varadero.
Havana resident Tania Duran is confident she’ll find someone on the island willing to part with 200-thousand US dollars for her four-bedroom, two-storey home, which her family spent years remodelling.
Either way, she’s happy with the new law. “It will be easier (to buy or sell real estate), there’s nobody stopping you, no troubles,” she said. “Apparently there will be no bureaucracy and no obstacles.”
Indeed, the law is a far cry from the past, when sellers and buyers turned to black-market transactions – with many thousands of dollars changing hands under the table.
President Castro has spearheaded a year of economic changes that has seen Cubans go into business for themselves in unprecedented numbers, and legally rent out rooms and automobiles.
A legal market for the sale and purchase of used cars was established last month.
But the housing law has been by far the most anticipated change, and one that is likely to affect the lives of millions of Cubans.
Havana residents began lining up at government offices early to seek information and process paperwork for property deeds – and their numbers increased throughout the day.
Juan Jose Pena is hoping to sell his house under the new rules.
“This law is very good,” he said. “Before you couldn’t do it. There were families with one or two houses who couldn’t sell them.”
The new law should make it easier for young couples to find their own space, and for seniors to downsize their empty nests and pocket money to fund their retirement.
Economists and Cuba experts agree the housing law could be a game changer, but they also caution not to expect too much, too soon.
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