http://www.hgchristie.com/blog/regatta-time-in-abaco-2014-race-recap-with-dwayne-wallas/

Regatta Abaco 2014

Well written Dave.

Fun Times In Hope Town this Saturday

And support the Junior Sailors.

Check them out if you are interested in Abaco Island what it is like to vacation or live here.  Truly Paradise and I would live no other place in the world.  Enjoy!

http://youtu.be/HPuXlQ-cO-s

http://youtu.be/qiruGflSq1Y

http://youtu.be/rY23RF16EiU

http://youtu.be/mpmL-p3tL2E

http://youtu.be/Mz22sXnWEJQ

 

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^^ Above, Beautiful Eastern Shores is an inconic neighborhood of Abaco and offers a unique prospect to waterfront at the front door and back door.  Watch the sunrise on one side and set on the other.  check out this listing here: http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/house/AS12220/immaculately-restored-waterfront-eastern-shores-home-with-2-docks–pool/

So how are things looking for 2014 in the real estate market in the Bahamas.  Looking at the news from the news from the US there are mixed messages, new builds are up, sales of existing homes is steady with potential decline in the near future.  The economy seems to be a roller coaster.  Who knows?  Europe seems to have dug out of the hole and showing strong improvement especially in the largest cities.  It is hard to extrapolate what is happening there to what is happening here.

Compared to my post back in 2012 when i started this blog, things here are leaps and bounds better.  Prices holding steady, sales volumes slowly creeping up.  And all around every agent and broker I talk to, the inquiries, calls, walk-ins, tire-kickers are at much higher levels than last year and sky high over the doldrum years ff 2010, 2011, 2012.  This general improvement is reflected in hotel bookings, boat rental booking and vacation home bookings for this year which I have gleaned from various stakeholders here in Abaco.  A general overall improvement in the economy bodes well for real estate.

The elephant in the room is the current sitting government who while seeming to have good intentions are not making the best decisions for the country, in my humble opinion.  the massive dredging exercise in Bimini will forever change the way of life there, perhaps for the worse.  It will definitely wreak havoc on the marine environment.  The looming disaster of VAT or at least increased taxes in some form will not be beneficial either, but we shall see.

The snapshot of the Bahamas Real estate Market right now – there are currently 2,148 active property listings on the Bahamas MLS.  Last year sales volume reported to the BMLS was 362 for 2013.  that equates to 30 sales per month which leads to the prognosis of a 71 (5.9 years) month supply of real estate listings.  Compared to the US national average 5.2 months supply of home inventory, this does not paint a very pretty picture for a seller, but an excellent one for a buyer.  Indeed many real estate professionals have been investing heavily in real estate.  The healthy balance in the US is considered to be 6 months by experts.

(As a side note, of the 2,148 listings, 1042 are homes, condos, duplexes, while 994 are for undeveloped land)

Further to that, for the 2014 year to date, May 15 there have been 130 sales reported to the BMLS, which extrapolates to a yearly volume to 312, which would be significantly less than 2013.  However the months of April and May are typically the high season for sales in the Bahamas, followed by a bump in September (see my previous post on best selling months here).  By July I expect the year’s sales volume to show marked signs of improvement over 2013.

As the Bahamas MLS continues to establish into the culture of real estate in the Bahamas things will change and most likely for hte better although I still believe the market is adapting to having information readily available that was just not there before.  In closing while inventory is actually higher than in the past, the sales volume is increasing and the months supply is actually dropping and the things are vastly better than they were in 2011.  Compare to this post i wrote for the HG Christie Blog back in 2011: http://www.hgchristie.com/blog/mls-market-update-first-quarter-2011-by-dwayne-wallas/

Right now there is tons of activity in the Private Island market in the Bahamas right now. At the moment there are three private island auctions going on.

One is for a group of cays in the North Abaco Chain being sold at Auction in the very near future.  This is going to be one of those rare chances to buy real paradise for a fraction of the value.  Big Grand Cay and its group of cays are spectacular setting and one of those rare playgrounds of sand sea and water that could be entirely yours.  A total of 11 different islands, think of the potential to have a cottage on each one and rent out a little private island to honeymooners, with fully serviced amenities.  The down side is the area is a bit remote but a Cesna Caravan can land at nearby Walkers Cay without a hitch.

check it out here:

http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/private-island/AS11949/bahamian-estate-must-be-sold–big-grand-cay-archipelago-online-auction-opening-bid-1-950-000/Image

have a look in the Cruising Guide to Abaco, it is one of the hot spot destinations for Anglers heading to Abaco for Fishing. and a key stop off for waterbourne commuters travelling between Abaco and Florida.

Also on Auction is Innocence Island in the Exuma Chain, a large private island with a very rare private runway.  The Bahamas government has put a restriction on it and will not allow anyone to build private airstrips anymore due to the logistics of controlling the airspace here (read US government influence).  In any event this is a rare chance to buy a cay with private runway.  check out the video here:

Otherwise, around Abaco there are some neat options to have a private kingdom in paradise.

Joes Cay, beautiful beaches and only $2.25M:

http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/private-island/AS10800/joe-s-cay/

Bahama Cays, (formerly the artist known as Fish Cays) some unique features, almost completed mini boutique resort, could be great for the right person.  all the hard work has already been done:

http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/private-island/AS12330/private-luxurious-island/

People have been wanting and trying to buy Johnnys Cay for decades, and now it is finally for sale.  located between Elbow Cay (Hope Town) and Man O War Cay, you could not find a better strategic position for a private fiefdom anywhere in the world.

http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/private-island/AS12325/johnny-s-cay-situated-between-elbow–man-o-war-cay-in-the-abacos/

Cave Cay was the site of an attempted settlement many many decades ago.  Had it survived it would have been another charming place to visit along with Hope Town or New Plymouth.  It has caves and harbours and beaches and natural kaleidoscope of landscapes and waterscapes.  it is just waiting for someone with vision to appreciate the natural beauty on offer:

http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/private-island/AS12183/stunning-private-island-with-two-natural-harbours/

And the much touted, much desired Sandy Cay (confusing but there are 3 Sandy Cays in the Abaco Chain) literally adjoining Man O War Cay.  So you can have fresh baked bread every morning from MOW, swing by for lunch of hang out with the sail shop or boat building fellows.  A unique proposition on offer, the cay has been lovingly enjoyed by 2 sets of extended families over the years.  This is where family memories are made that will endure through to the grandkids of the grandkids.  recently price adjusted to $8M, considering all the toys, boats and extras it is quite an attractive prospect.

http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/private-island/15135/sandy-cay/

Powells Cay is a developers delight.  large, raw beauty with an excellent labour force minutes away, easy access to infrastructure, this spot is ripe for a unique getaway resort to be developed.

http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/private-island/AS12305/pristine-powell-cay/

And lastly, Walkers Cay is a fabled island, the most northerly spot in the entire Bahamas.  There is history and fellowship and stories upon stories about this place in its heyday.  begging for someone to come along and redevelop it to its former glory days.  Recreate the celebrated luxury fishing camp and marina of times gone by.  plus government supplied electricity and water, private runway, and deep water channel.

http://www.hgchristie.com/properties/abaco/private-island/AS12219/premier-fishing-and-diving-paradise/

Contact me anytime if you have a serious interest and don’t miss out on the chance at the auctions if you can.  dwayne@hgchristie.com

 

 

 

 

Did you know there are 544 real estate agents licensed around the Bahamas?  Seems like a lot for a population of only 360,000 people in the country.  That’s an agent for every 670 people in the Bahamas.  Obviously this is leaving out the estimated 25,000 foreign property owners in the Bahamas.  The point – choose to work with a good one, check out their profile and experience online, ask for referral, or interview them and make sure you have a good fit. 

Similarly, there are 1062 attorneys that have been called to the bar in the Bahamas.  Quite a lot eh?  But considering the economy of the Bahamas is built partly on the financial industry and real estate industry, the number is not so large.  Again, ask for referrals, and vet the attorney you hire beforehand.

A little bit of homework can save you time, stress and money.  Then you can enjoy your piece or paradise with peace of mind and quiet enjoyment.  For easy reference to confirm if someone is licensed check out www.BahamasRealEstateAssociation.com or www.BahamasBarAssociation.com/.

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Why does a home or lot not sell? In almost all cases it was not priced right. If a home is priced properly and attractively it will always find a buyer if the marketing is handled properly. However if the price is not appropriate no amount of marketing and splash will make a difference to getting it sold. Despite the existence of the phrase “Selling ice to the Eskimos” the reality is much, much different. The Eskimos would buy the ice if it were priced right. i.e. it is more sensible to buy it rather than spend the time to go and get it.

This goes for real estate too. To sell a house it must be attractively priced to make it a good opportunity. There is not point hoping and praying for a Lottery winner to come along and want to pay you twice the value of your home. You don’t help yourself or your real estate agent by having this ‘pie in the sky’ attitude. Most folks with money to spend are not silly with it. In fact, most of the high end clients I’ve dealt with were much more conscious of the value of a dollar than the low end client’s I have worked with. The demand more value for money and more ‘value added content’.

In Bahamas Real Estate I see many, many sellers who are very unrealistic in their expectations. I recently heard a truism – “You don’t sell real estate unless you have to.” And if you have to sell, be realistic, put on your buyers shoes and take a walk around your home or lot. What would you do if you were buying? It is hard to put aside prejudices and truly be empathetic but it is a worthwhile exercise.

Similarly – don’t try to by real estate that the seller doesn’t want to sell. Unless you are truly prepared to pay a heavy premium over market value. I’ve had a client recently who didn’t want to buy anything that was for sale, he wanted to buy homes that the seller wasn’t interested in selling and then was offended when the unwilling seller stated their price…

In any event, what does it look like in the real estate market in the Bahamas?

Over the past few years, the Bahamas MLS has provided the ability to get a real picture of the market that we didn’t have before. There is now a window into the workings and functioning of market here and what it is revealing is telling.

For instance, over the past years it is quite astounding how many properties simply never sell at all. This is shown by the number of expired listings which essentially are Unsold or Market Rejected. Basically overpriced and no one was willing to consider it. The history of expired listings on the MLS is below:

2013 – 668 expired listings (skewed because many are still active this year)

2012 – 1,017 expired

2011 – 1,038 expired

2010 – 1,063 expired

And as of right now there are currently 2,013 properties for sale being actively marketed around the Bahamas.

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Above:  Johnnys Cay, located between Iconic Hope Town and Man O War Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.  Newly listed.

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Whats New in Abaco? (Above photo: start of the GAFFW Triathlon in Treasure Cay at Sunrise)

It has been a long time since my last post and I’ve been chastising myself for weeks. But the reason for it is the tangible uptick in the real estate business here. Sales activity is looking up in terms of volume although prices are generally staying level. In the wider picture though, requests for appraisal services has improved dramatically over the previous year, vacation rental and boat bookings are generally stronger than 2013 and overall the economy in Abaco looks to be doing much better. I would almost hazard to say that the things are starting to look quite rosy here.

Anecdotally, there has been a few properties that have sold in the past 6 months at full asking price after having 2 or more serious persons interested. I haven’t seen that happen in years. As I have written before the condo market dam has broken and sales volume is gaining serious ground. There is great value to be found in the condo market right now so it just makes sense. A recent sale in Hope Town set a new price record for a single family estate on the cay – “Oasis” was acquired for $5.5M at the beginning of this year setting the bar for residential real estate on the cay.

Interest in Treasure Cay has risen since the recent announcement (i.e.“leak”) into the papers about a serious potential for sale of the remaining development holdings as well as the marina and resort components. Nothing is certain but the party from Vancouver has been in due diligence since 2013 and things maybe looking positive for a sale. If this happens the market there should improve significantly. I’ve been saying for a long time that the community needs some fresh energy at the helm. The restaurants and hotel are looking run down, the Spinnaker Restaurant hasn’t been altered (not even the drapes) since the 1980’s – time for some sprucing up?

In other recent news around the island, the new airport is promised to be commissioned and open this month, April. So we all wait with baited breath on that one. A company called IJet charters was trying to start a seaplane service that would deliver you straight to Hope Town, bypassing the MHH airport and the taxi and ferry rides. A great idea and was well received by many residents, homeowners and visitors, however it seems there is a bit of opposition from the government side. The hurdle will have to be overcome. I can’t stress how important a service like this would be for Green Turtle Cay. Ever since regular flights have pretty much ceased into Treasure Cay Airport, it has become a major trek for residents and visitors to get to GTC. One must fly to Marsh Harbour Airport, then take a 40 minute car ride (or $85 taxi fare) to the GTC ferry dock and then ferry over. Basically this adds $85 and almost an hour to the travel time to get to GTC. Not good.

But if there was seaplane service that dropped your right to the Green Turtle Cay Club, how great would that be? And GTC’s economic outlook all of a sudden looks worlds brighter.

Government is pushing ahead and building a shipping port in North Abaco, basically in the middle of nowhere and to the complete bewilderment of everyone…

Lastly, the GAFFW (swim, run, tri, fun) was another great success in its third year. Tomorrow marks the end of the sailing season in Abaco, being the Homer Lowe regatta for Opti’s and Sunfish. After this, the Hope Town Sailing Club which hosts the races will be losing most of its membership (winter birds/second home owners) until they return in Novemberish. On the other hand everyone is looking forward the summertime Regatta Time In Abaco with the corresponding ‘Fiddle Cay Stranded Naked Party’.

Almost forgot – Alburys Ferry service started offering a new service taking passengers to Lubbers Quarters (finally) and between HT and MOW and HT and Guana Cay. I hope it catches on. And so the gears slowly turn and Abaco slowly develops and slowly becomes bigger and better. The big question is do we want it to? Or do we want it to stay the secret paradise that it is?

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^^ My ‘selfie’ after the triathlon relay I took part in, filling in as runner and got my time under a 10 minute mile.

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New listing above, Casa Bella, Treasure Cay is a dream beach home.

Lately there has been nonstop discussion among Bahamians and foreign owners of homes in the Bahamas about the impending doom of the implantation of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the Bahamas.  The current government stance is a roll out in July of this year 2014.  In all likelihood given the track record (using the Marsh Harbour airport as an example) the introduction will happen in 2016 or 2017.  But, by all account it is coming, just a matter of when.

The typical discussions surround the cost of food or medicines, which are very important items to consider of course, we can’t live without them.  We also cannot live without somewhere to live in.

Currently the rough average cost to build a home in the Bahamas hovers around $150 Per Square Foot or living space.  Porches, patios, garages generally cost anywhere between $30 to $90 per square foot.  This rough numbers are estimates for a very simple home, 4 walls, 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, tile floors nothing fancy.  Take my advice if you ask a Bahamian contractor to incorporate a bay window or some new roofing material he hasn’t seen before, you can double the cost to build instantly.  In most cases, going with a design outside of the simple box will cost you plenty to build here. 

There is a looking question that no one is really discussing yet – that is “How with VAT affect home values in the Bahamas?” and “How will VAT affect the cost of construction in the Bahamas?”

Well, if we look at an example of a typical 3bed/2 bath, 1,600 sq.ft. nice but simple home built in the Bahamas for $150 per square foot, with a  total cost of $240,000.  That should include all permitting and plans, but typically won’t cover utility connections or landscaping.  We are talking nothing fancy, all off the shelf average fixtures and appliances, no marble, no granite, no travertine, no fancy glass showers or claw foot tubs.  Getting off topic here.

So let’s start with a cost to build a home in the Bahamas at $240,000.

Currently, we pay import duties on all goods imported into the country so the cost of materials is generally quite high in comparison to the United States.  Volumes are low in comparison and shipping costs are high.  At the moment, in my estimation approximately 60% of the $240,000 cost to build is paying for materials. 

So $140,000 in materials, and $100,000 in labour to build a $240,000 home.  (These numbers are for example only, not exact)

According to the government communications, the cost of goods in the country will rise only 5%, however the private sector is saying the end result will be more like 12.5% post VAT.  Using the private sector estimate the cost of materials to build our home will rise to $156,800.  Not the end of the world just yet.

Under the current tax structure of the Bahamas, there is no tax payable on the services provided by electricians, plumbers, tile layers, carpenters, contractors, architects, surveyors, Quantity surveyors, masons, etc.  This is a very big elephant that is discussed but no one has grasped the implications yet.

The moment VAT is implemented, the cost of the services and labour to build a home is going to rise 15% over night.  A large new tax where there was not tax before.   What is the net result?

The $100,000 labour and services component of building a new home in the Bahamas just went up 15% to $115,000.  This is a simplification as VAT has a tax on tax effect compounding the cost to end consumers which ultimately means these estimations are very much on the conservative side.  The reality remains to be seen.

Now our $240,000 home will cost you $271,800.  Additional $21,000 Post VAT.  Do you think the construction will sector will weather this change in the economy well?

I would advise anyone who had plans to build a home, in the near future, you do it now, and hope to finish before VAT is implemented.  I also expect that the market for existing homes will strengthen while the market for vacant land which is already weak will become even softer. 

The cost to buy a home will rise somewhat also – VAT will be collected on the services of lawyers and realtors and home inspectors and appraisers.  Closing costs are expected to rise about a percentage point post VAT in my estimation.

Family Island Development Encouragement Act Ending

It looks like the development and construction incentive for the lesser developed island is ended and may not be renewed.  This serves to put home building back on equal footing for all the islands of the Bahamas.  over the past couple of years it has cost about 30% less to build on the southern islands than the islands of Abaco, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and Bimini.

 

(Apologies for my last post, I wrote it and then it got lost when publishing and wordpress posted it to FB and LinkedIn before I realized the post was blank.)

A few weeks back everyone was talking about a recent video shoot for a new music video that Pitbull shot in Staniel Cay, Exuma.  It shows some great images of the mesmerizing waters of the Exuma Banks, and some shots of the whimsical Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  Staniel Cay is definitely one of those places in the world that should be visited at least once in your life.  It is a magical place, the location of the cave scenes in James Bonds ‘Thunderball’ movie.  At the dock, nurse sharks hang out all day and keep you company.  Personally I don’t think the music video does the cay and the area justice, but it is worth a look:

In other news there is a rumor that Miley Cyrus may be spending time in Treasure Cay, Abaco.  Reports are unconfirmed though.  Treasure Cay is home to a fabulous beach and I’ve taken on a new home for sale, sited right at the end of the point, with the best location and positioning in all of Treasure.  ‘Casa Bella’ is the kind of home dreams are made of and indeed made in.  Endless memories will be created in this stylish beach home.  Check it out click on the photo below for more details:

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Recent happenings of note in the Bahamas include the Bahamas Speed Week which was another success but still lots of growing pains.  The participants say it is one of the most striking places they have raced their cars.  Hope Town held it’s annual Boxcart Derby (racing on a completely different level but just as fun) and despite inclement weather was another huge success – Once again I endeavor to enter a cart next year.  We will see if I can pull it off.

Upcoming event – the 242 Colour run in Hope Town on the 28th December.  This should prove to be an exciting event, where you run/walk/crawl a 5k and get covered in colourful paint?  (?? Seems interesting, maybe I’ll try it out)

I would also mention that New Years in the Abacos is lots of fun.  Very family friendly and each of the cays does it a little differently, but there is always great fireworks, usually some Junkanoo and great entertainment across the island.  Pete’s Pub is often a low key but fulfilling atmosphere to ring it in.  Book early though as all of the rental homes get booked solid for the New Years holiday.

Schooner Bay is now functional, with gas dock, marina, several different villas to stay in, the Blackfly Lodge is open for business and there are now 2 options for eating out plus a newly opened general store which is bound to expand and grow.  Be sure to make plans for an afternoon relaxing by the harbour.

Otherwise in real estate news, it seems 2013 is finishing up on a low note, but signs are pointing to a very much improved 2014.  Florida’s real estate market is 30% up year over year, and has steadied out with inventory dropping significantly.  Typically we see spill over in the Bahamas from 6 months to a year later, so I anticipate we will see some big improvement in our local market in Abaco from around spring time through the summer.

That said, there is still a high inventory of real estate here in Abaco at 620+ listings, and over 230+ of those are single family homes.  Homes are continuing to sell much faster than undeveloped land or multifamily properties.  It is now the perfect time to buy, before the almost guaranteed upswing coming next year.  Things have been improving in market but at a subdued rate over the past 2 years.  Most brokers and agents I speak with around town all agree that there will be significant gains next year.

On the other side of the coin though, Abaco Beach Resort and Treasure Cay are both in need of a fresh injection of energy and would really benefit from new owners.  If these to anchor properties in Abaco were rejuvenated it would have a profound effect on the rest of the Abacos.  Both resorts could be an option for the right investor with the right vision.  Send me a proposal if you are interested.  In other news, there has been some recent activity in the commercial market in Abaco, with some significant properties looking to have new owners in 2014.  All good signs but still fairly muted at the moment.

Newly redeveloped projects are doing extremely well – I mentioned Schooner Bay already, other places to check out are Firefly Resort, The Hope Town Inn and Marina, and Bakers Bay is setting new standards in Abaco.  The Bluff House and the Green Turtle Cay Club are both undergoing improvement works and they’ve recently dredged the channel to White Sound to accommodate larger vessels.  All good news and good things happening around the cays.

Finally, take a look at recent video I’ve shot of a beautiful home on Gillam Bay, Green Turtle Cay.  This is almost the perfect home…http://youtu.be/W0yxqA3XWlc

Now in closing can I ask all my readers to please cross your fingers and send positive vibes that the new Marsh Harbour airport terminal will be finally opened and functioning in January 2014 as has been recently promised.

This may be my last post before the end of the year – Happy Holidays, Happy Christmas, Happy New Year, may 2014 be another wonderful year to add to the memories.

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