Guide: Caribbean Property 2015
Known as an investment destination for ultra rich, the Caribbean is opening doors to property investors while maintaining its highly regarded reputation.
Demand for Caribbean real estate has doubled during the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014 according to Caribbean luxury property specialist 7th Heaven Properties. Following the interest in the region by a flurry of celebrities, not to mention the first licensed casino in Jamaica, the growth outlook for the region is not only strong but appealing to new buyers. Our friends at Palace magazine brought us the story.
The 7th Heaven Properties group analyzed the flood of worldwide inquires including from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, finding a significant increase in interest across all price brackets for residential real estate in St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Antigua and the Dominican Republic. Inquiries for properties priced from $1 to $2 million more than doubled, and a proportion of inquiries for properties below $1 million increased from 39 to 44 percent.
The Caribbean region covers various islands bordering the Caribbean Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean and surrounding coasts. Some islands in the region such as Antigua, Barbados, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands have relatively flat terrain of non-volcanic origin, while islands such as Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Saint Lucia possess rugged towering mountain ranges.
“Inquiries for Caribbean real estate have increased dramatically during the first half of this year as economic growth in the US, Canada and the UK has stimulated buyer confidence,” said 7th Heaven Properties managing director Walter Zephirin. “Growth in demand for Caribbean property has been underpinned by the impressive performance of the region’s tourism sector, particularly in locations such as the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the continued success of highly attractive citizenship by investment programs in St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua.”
“The outlook for the second half of 2015 is extremely promising with a strong sales pipeline. A succession of announcements on increasing airlift to the region and major resort developments linked to Robert de Niro in Antigua and Barbuda and Leonardo DiCaprio in Belize, as well as the first licensed casino in Jamaica have boosted the Caribbean’s profile and enhanced its accessibility and appeal to buyers.”
David Friedman, president of Wealth-X, says Barbados is in a prime position to take advantage of the global demand for real estate in the region. Wealth-X provides prospecting data for financial institutions, luxury brands and non-government organisations and have recently released the Wealth-X Caribbean Wealth & Investment Report 2015.
In Barbados, said Friedman, the government “introduced a special entry and residence permit in 2014 that allows foreign nationals who invest $2 million into Barbados real estate to establish residency.”
Locally in Barbados, the trend for more investment and property portfolios is also being felt. Kieran Kelly, director of property agency Chestertons Barbados, has 18 years experience in the financial services and luxury real estate sectors and agrees that 2015 “has been extremely good in terms of sales.” Richard Young, director of the local office of Sotheby’s International, says he is currently listing Platinum Bay, a new and prime development on the island’s sought-after west coast, with villas from $25 million, while private units in One Sandy Lane on the Platinum Coast, start at $19 million.
Having experienced a 105 percent luxury sales growth over the course of 2013 and 2014, Puerto Rico has been identified as one of the world’s top emerging luxury real estate markets. A study by Christie’s International Real Estate found the growth in the country, spurred by the establishment of its status as a tax haven in 2012, resulted in Puerto Rico’s luxury real estate market rapidly expanding. “Investors have also been revitalizing resort property and developing luxury residences, signaling that the Puerto Rican real estate market is ripe with opportunity,” said Leticia Brunet Gonzalez, president of Trillion Realty Group, Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate in Puerto Rico.
Last year, Bermuda claimed the number one spot in a new list of the world’s top 20 islands for (UHNWI) real estate investment. And the growth continues. Real estate and business news website, World Property Channel, reported resort investments in the Bahamas had been highlighted by wealth management research firm, Savills, as being some of the hottest property investments in the world. Example of such properties include the Atlantis Resort and One&Only Ocean Club.
Philip Button, managing director of property investment specialists Brookes & Co said investors are also looking for strong returns when it comes to the Bahamas. He said there was a “…marked upsurge in interest (in the Caribbean luxury property market), with clients taking advantage of being able to pick up five-star properties at reduced prices, in anticipation of prices increasing once more in the months and years ahead.”
Another feature luring investors into the region is the Bahamas’ tax incentives where property owners can take advantage of the residence scheme, which offers no taxes on income, sales, estates, inheritance and real estate capital gains.
The Dominican Republic
A popular resort destination, the Dominican Republic is also one of the top Caribbean choices for property investors. Based on World Bank statistics, the Dominican Republic has been attracting the most tourists in the Caribbean. Rising house prices are expected as foreigners including expatriates and retirees have been attracted to these prospects. According to Global Property Guide research, prices have steadily increased each year. Several other locations in the Caribbean such as Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama have also seen an increase in the number of luxury residential developments such as Lomas del Valle in Alto Palomas, Santa Ana, a project aimed at attracting expatriates and locals who enjoy a safe and pampered lifestyle. There is also increased accessibility with more direct flights to these destinations, ensuring convenience for tourists and property buyers alike.
Text by Domenica Tan
The story first appeared in Issue No.14 of Palace.