2013 “watershed” year for Caribbean property

Photo:   Just Enough Focus

The Caribbean’s luxury housing market is beginning to recover, according to the agency’s new Prime Residential Insight report, with the number of prime sales in Barbados and the British Virgin Islands rising between 10 per cent and 15 per cent last year.

The main drivers of this renweed demand are American and European buyers, who have become more confident in the market, bolstered by their own improving financial conditions. Indeed, on TheMoveChannel.com, demand for the Cayman Islands notably increased in 2013, appearing in the portal’s top 10 countries on five separate occasions.

British, US and Canadian buyers continue to represent the key component of foreign demand across the Caribbean, notes Knight Frank.

Christian De Meillac, Head of Caribbean Sales, explains: “2013 marked a watershed for several property markets in the Caribbean with Barbados and the British Virgin Islands in particular seeing sales volumes increase. Purchasers have started to see real buying opportunities in the market.”

The Caribbean’s development market is improving too, with projects such as Oil Nut Bay and Albany recording strong sales rates. With activity up and development growing, the outlook appears improved for the coming 12 months compared to previous years. Indeed, the average price of a luxury home on the Bahamas, Mustique, St Barts and Jumby Bay edged up by between 0 per cent and 2 per cent.

Favourable currency exchange rates also mean that buyers can pick up a luxury property for a more affordable price.

Kim Goddard, Director of Sales at Barbados resort Royal Westmoreland agrees that now is a prime time for UK buyers to take advantage of the financial gains, explaining: “Not only is the exchange rate favourable for UK buyers but distressed inventory has been absorbed by the market and prices have stabilized; this historically has meant that the market will begin to rise.”

Nonetheless, sellers need to be “realistic” about price, warns Knight Frank, given the volume of properties on the market following such a long period of weak interest.