What if You Could Not Buy or Sell Real Estate?

Photo of a 50's Chevy and Cuban housing

Photo of a 50's Chevy and Cuban housingI was reading an interesting article about Cuban real estate, and how in that country it is not legal to buy or sell property. Essentially you were stuck in your house. The Castro government tightly regulates the building of new apartments and forbids house buying and selling making it nearly impossible to move.

It is only nearly impossible, because there is a black market for ‘house swaps’ as they are called. Negotiators work with individuals and families to identify their needs and then try to move people around to best suite everyone in the transaction. The rearrange property so that an elderly couple can downsize from their three bedroom condo, and a  young growing family cam move out of their one bedroom garden apartment. The housing swaps usually involve some amount of money, and there are more and more stories of homes here being sold on the black market for hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if buyers can’t get proper titles.

I can only imagine how complex the system must be – moving families around trying to achieve a balance of needs with limited numbers of housing units and dozens of families … all without the approval of the government. It is insight like this that makes me glad I am working in Cincinnati and not Havana.

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