Senin, 31/08/2009

Efforts of Regaining Success in Caribbean’s Property Industry
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Efforts of Regaining Success in Caribbean’s Property Industry

OVER THE PAST DECADE, the property market of Caribbean Islands was quite attractive and real estate assets in the area were highly saleable. Developers not necessarily went all out to sell their property. But the situation has changed following the unexpected emergence of the global crisis. At the moment, even property owners in Caribbean Islands, one of the world’s most beautiful region, have to work hard to sell their assets. Several islands have decided to ease restrictions over foreign ownership and the utilization of property so as to encourage more foreign buyers to come. The Caribbean has so many things attractive. It comprises more than 7,000 islands that surround the Caribbean Sea. The geography and climate in the Caribbean region vary. Several islands have flat terrain and are not volcanic. They include Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Saint Croix or Antigua.

Meanwhile, other islands have towering mountainous ranges like Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Guadeloupe, and Trinidad & Tobago. The Caribbean has a tropical climate and varying rainfall. Also, the archipelago is an international location for biodiversity conservation. It has lots of protected flora and fauna. The region has diverse tribal groups with the predominantly languages spoken are Spanish, English, French and Dutch.

The Caribbean region has beautiful and unique nature that are highly attractive to foreign buyers and investors. Caribbean governments are aware that in the current unstable economic condition and considering the region’s heavy reliance on its tourism sector, special efforts are needed to encourage investors to come again and make investment in the area. The British Virgin Islands eases its regulations by allowing expatriates to buy property assets, and making it easy for them to make transaction agreements. As a result, only 90 days are needed to complete all the necessary processes. Also, the government has enlarged its airport and improved its cellular phone communication system. And, it has provided fast internet access for smart phone uses.

On Cayman Islands, the government has cut interests of bank loans used to buy property assets that look out on the sea, to 5 percent from 7.5 percent. Moreover, Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association has stated that the 20-percent cut in commission will be effective until around September of this year. Indeed, the Caribbean property market condition is slowing.

According to Knight Frank, an international real estate agent, the sales of second homes in the region declined 40 percent in the past six months and their prices fell 20 percent. Charles McDowell, an agent of exclusive property Knightsbridge, which is based in London, said, “Caribbean second homes are a discretionary purchase and people simply aren’t buying them at the moment. I have two clients who were considering purchasing in Barbados and St Barts, and both have put plans on hold.”

Although the Caribbean property market seems deteriorating, Wini Dean, International Property Advisor for Caribbean Land and Property said, “It is simply of true that everything is in decline. Some areas are doing better than others.” One of the areas is Belize. It is the only state in Central America where English is a predominant language. It has a small population. Belize can be an alternative location for those who love natural environment with rain forests and exotic wildlife. Additionally, the area has tropical coastlines, and visitors can make a snorkel and dive to enjoy its coral reef lines, which are the world’s second largest. Belize is also suitable for retirees.

The government gives incentives for pensioners by exempting them from income taxes and allowing them to import household appliances, cars and even small boats and airplanes. Another attractive location is Dominican Republic. Property prices in the area are quite competitive compared with those in other Caribbean states. Property assets in the republic have high value while the living cost in the area is relatively low. Also, Dominican Republic can be easily reached because it has 120 airports and visitors spend little time to reach different parts of the area. Further, there are Costa Rica and Dominica, a tiny island. Wini Dean said the Caribbean is suitable for retirees.

Active workers wishing to live in the Caribbean should reconsider their intention. It is important to realize that there are few job opportunities within these countries and anyone who wants to live there should be prepared to create their own avenues for employment. Setting up new business which brings new jobs for locals is also a way of giving back to a country that has embraced you.” Further, it should be noted that property prices in the Caribbean are relatively high.

There is possibility for people to buy property assets built by local developers at much lower prices. But such assets normally need renovation, which surely requires more money. It is advisable that people need to prepare enough money and make careful calculations before deciding to buy property in the Caribbean. (LEO)