Taking it easy

Some Caribbean islands are easing restrictions for foreign property investors and introducing incentives in a bid to attract more luxury buyers…

The number of rich real estate investors have dropped over the last six months as the global economic situation is affecting those seeking prime property in the Caribbean.

The British Virgin Islands is to ease some restrictions for foreign real-estate buyers including a new 90 day automatic approval for a landholder license.

The Government is also expanding the airport and providing better cellular phone services and high speed internet access for smart phone users.

'The Government realized, given the current economic climate and given that we live by tourism, that we want to have these investors come in,' said Clyde Lettsome, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labor.

In the Cayman Islands the Government has temporarily lowered rates on real estate transfer taxes including a reduction on waterfront property from 7.5 per cent to five per cent. The country's real estate brokers group, Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association, has announced a 20 per cent discount on commission that will continue until the end of September.

US developer David Johnson helped to persuade the British Virgin Islands to do something to stimulate the property market. He is hoping it will boost sales in his Oil Nut Bay project which is a low density 88 villa development on a 300 acre peninsula under construction in Virgin Gorda.

He admits that sales are slow. After about four months of marketing, he says he has sold about eight lots of the roughly 45 for sale at founders prices, ranging from £1.2 million for a one-acre lot to £16.5 million for 10 acres with 360-degree views.

He believes that there is still a market for unique, luxury development despite the recession. He admits, however, that there are fewer buyers than there used to be.

According to international estate agency Knight Frank sales of Caribbean second homes are down 40 per cent over the last six months while prices have fallen more than 20per cent.

Charles McDowell, a property agent based in London's exclusive Knightsbridge confirmed that sales are slow. '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,' he said.

Source: www.propertywire.com