As second-home real-estate markets have continued to gain in popularity, the Caribbean has shown steady growth over the past several years, with international buyers seeking properties in these treasured corners of the world. With many foreign buyers pursuing their aspirations of owning their own piece of paradise, the Caribbean has long been considered a dream destination. Their desires for the slower pace of island life, the warm temperatures, picturesque views and untouched beaches continue to lure real-estate investors from around the globe to the islands of the Caribbean, with buyers vying to invest in properties just steps from white-sand beaches. However, the Caribbean isn’t just one collective real-estate market. There are unique rules, regulations and policies in play throughout each territory, to which buyers must be sensitive and adhere.
Due to the relentless demand and transactional intricacies that may arise, high-profile real-estate firms have set up shop on the islands to help buyers navigate the choppy waters. One of those companies is the global, billion-dollar real-estate brokerage The Agency, which has more than 35 offices in luxury markets across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. Over the last year, The Agency has experienced record-breaking sales from its various listings throughout the Caribbean, with the volume of sales exceeding $330 million, an increase of 31 percent since 2018.
Ian Hurdle, managing partner of The Agency’s Turks and Caicos office and a leading expert on the Caribbean real-estate market, shares his thoughts on the hottest areas in which to invest, including which Caribbean countries are catching buyers’ attention the most.
Why the Caribbean?
“Ease of travel from the United States and Canada, a US standard in building codes and the weight of the US dollar have been key drivers for international buyers, particularly those in North America, to want to purchase in the Caribbean,” Hurdle explained. “Incredible fishing, unbelievable deep-sea diving, exceptional water-sport activities, such as kite surfing, and breathtaking whale watching are just a few of the many reasons residents seek out a second home here.
“The affordability of this region is unparalleled. You can live like a king or queen at an approachable price point while basking in the natural beauty and splendour of the islands,” he continued.
What to expect in 2020
Hurdle looked ahead into 2020 by observing, “We saw the single-family-home market boom in 2019, with significant sales across the islands. There has always been a healthy short-term rental market in the Caribbean, and many developers are constructing homes with rentals in mind. However, there remains an opportunity for the development of reasonably priced homes for those buyers seeking to reside here long term.
“We expect to see an upsurge in the condominium market, with condos remaining a favourable initial investment for buyers seeking to dip their toes in the Caribbean real-estate market, particularly in Turks and Caicos,” he added. “Over the past several years, we’ve noticed that more and more buyers are settling in long term to their once second homes, and we expect the demand for homes for long-term residents to continue to grow throughout 2020.
“Land purchasing has been an attractive and safe investment for many second-home buyers,” he pointed out. “Whether beachfront or inland, there is a wide selection of green-site properties primed for development. Many times, this is the most cost-efficient avenue to purchasing a piece of paradise.
“The new-development market continues to soar, and we see no signs of it stopping,” added Hurdle. “Many development projects are seeking to marry the island’s rich history and culture with modern conveniences while still maintaining the old-world charm of its natural surroundings. As well, many of our buyers are interested in properties with clean-energy features, which we have a large volume of both in new development and resale.”
Where to invest
Hurdle further explained, “Turks and Caicos continues to be one of the most sought-after markets in the Caribbean for buyers. Due to the absence of annual property tax and the development of the island, purchasing a property in Turks and Caicos has always been a safe investment.
“Providenciales has grown from small developments to a booming commercial capital with many international buyers seeking second homes there compared to the nation’s capital of Grand Turk Island. Grand Turk, in turn, has remained a more slow-paced, sleepy island that exhibits the pace of life that you would experience in many other parts of the Caribbean,” he said. “Given Grand Turk Island’s quieter lifestyle, the opportunity to purchase a slice of paradise there remains significantly attainable as prices are reasonable, beaches are uncrowded, and the people are more than welcoming.
“Anguilla has grown tremendously over the past several years. In 2019, it experienced an uptick in US tourism, surpassing its banner year of 2016. In 2018, the island saw a 75-percent increase in tourism, which illustrates its strength and sustainability following the recovery from Hurricane Irma,” Hurdle noted. “Ringed with 33 beaches and considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean by many, Anguilla offers a fantastic culinary scene, a host of tourist attractions and festivals, in addition to its charming character and affordable real-estate market.”
Hurdle concluded by observing, “Though Anguilla lies just off the beaten path, it has retained its allure and appeal due to its convenient location to two major gateways: Puerto Rico and Saint Martin, in addition to private air access, making it a desired destination from the US.”