Cuban house market opens up

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Cuban house market opens up

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For the first time since the revolution in 1959 the Cuban government is allowing people to buy and sell their homes on the island.

Up until now Cubans have had to swap their properties unofficially, a process known as “permuta”, with money changing hands on the black market if one house is bigger than another.

It is the latest and most substantial reform undertaken by President Raul Castro, brother of Fidel, to liberalise the controlled economy.

“Anything that’s being done to free up things that have up to now been prohibited is good”, said one woman.

Another added: “We’re happy with this new law, as we are with the others that allow people to have cafes, businesses, all those things. Everybody will sleep more peacefully.”

The government is encouraging self-employment to get more people out of government jobs. Analysts say this latest move could see more money in people’s pockets as houses are bought and sold.

Foreigners will also be allowed to buy a house but only if they’re permanent residents.

Purchases will be limited to one home, and one holiday home.