By Daniel Evelyn, Managing Director & Head of Sales, Chesterton Barbados
Barbados is known for its exclusivity and its high concentration of luxury, diverse inclusivity, warm and friendly people, cleanliness, highly developed infrastructure, strong airlift and seaport cruise hubs. It has earned its name, “Gem of the Caribbean Sea”. The island is a safe investment with a strong dollar and economy and is considered a leading, progressive nation. It drives many important global initiatives, from global-warming mitigation and green energy to food security, medicinal marijuana and a forward-thinking equal-rights approach that welcomes all.
As a central hub between the United States and Europe, Barbados attracts non-national buyers. It easily wins them over once they realise they love the Caribbean island (usually after one visit, as it touches their hearts) and can see themselves and their families coming for extended annual periods for decades to come.
Sometimes owners rent their properties to cover costs and generate profits while keeping them for their own use when on the island. This also helps them maintain their investments while safely parking their money, as the Barbados dollar is fixed against the US dollar at 1.99 to 1. The fact that there are neither inheritance taxes nor capital gains is also very attractive; they can save what could have been many years of funds paid into hotel-room costs and short-term rental rates and factor them into their investments’ overall yield as they gain equity.
Corporate entities are attracted by Barbados’s steady growth opportunities, access to resources and low corporation tax of 5.5 percent on BBD 1 million, 3 percent on BBD 1–20 million, 2.5 percent on BBD 20–30 million and 1 percent on amounts above BBD 30 million. Highly incentivised concessions also encourage investment to increase the number of rooms to meet the growing demand and keep the tourism market growing in long-term stays and, consequently, increased airlifts.
As we at Chesterton Barbados predominantly cater to non-nationals who are purchasing second homes (or another one to add to their multiple residences worldwide), Barbados guarantees all-year-round sun and warm waters. Quite often, we see the same property turn over many times within a decade or two. Among the reasons for this are shifting lifestyle needs, the number of rooms required either growing or shrinking with changes in family needs, financial reasons or personal and/or professional life changes. But rarely does an owner fully exit; rather, he or she upsizes or downsizes. Although our main business is residential, we also offer commercial investments to our high-net-worth clients, such as negotiating acquisitions of financial institutions, government partnerships, large residential developments and private-hotel resales—not only in Barbados but also throughout the region.
Not long ago, Barbados was held with high reverence for exclusivity; it is still a haven for celebrities to go unnoticed, with access to all the comforts and levels of service they have come to expect at international standards. One can find multiple world-class golf courses, surfing tournaments, car-racing rallies, major cricket tournaments, sailing regattas, horse races, polo, music and food festivals—to name a few.
We expect more interests to be catered to as demand increases from the classes of visitors and prospective buyers we serve. However, there was a decline in non-nationals at the Fortune 500 level, as their chief financial officers and chief executive officers could now afford similar travel experiences and opted for higher-level, even more exclusive retreat options.
Since COVID, we have seen a large influx of younger digital nomads who can work remotely and love the lifestyle that has given birth to more trendy, fun and inviting hangouts, such as The Local & Co., Sea Shed, Calma Beach Club, La Cabane and Bearded Rose, to name a few. There are also marijuana lounges and new nightclubs on the horizon. We are noticing increasing ultra-exclusive demand through various markets, such as Canadian and American ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) leaving the Bahamas for Barbados. Thus, Barbados is now seeing a rebound in trophy beachfront home sales, with five recently sold within the US$35–60-million range.
The overall market has been very buoyant, with our sales revenues increasing year-on-year; last year’s increased by 35 percent, with the maximum average sale prices remaining fairly consistent over the past four years at around $7 million.
COVID made people from the United Kingdom realise that life is short, and they couldn’t wait for the UK pound sterling to recover from Brexit; the UK is still considered our strongest source market. As such, many snatched up the remaining deals and oversupply lingering on the market, particularly within the fastest-selling price point of under $1 million. The trend has continued in the under $1-million bracket, with new listings coming in at higher asking prices and existing listings with increased prices due to limited supply, yet still selling faster than previous years for full ask, near or above. There is still an oversupply in the $2-million-plus bracket; overpriced homes have been forced to reduce their prices to sell faster, but conversely, we have seen more inquiries from buyers in markets such as the US and Canada with stronger purchasing power. Currency fluctuations impact these clients less, and they have been buying up projects such as the new Apes Hill offering, now owned by self-made Canadian billionaire Glenn Chamandy.
Apart from our homegrown Rihanna, our prime minister, the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, has become a true trailblazer for the region and put Barbados on the world stage in a highly impactful way on matters of global importance. Her vision has been clear; her efforts are showing; and much more is to come.
The island will be fully transformed to an even higher standard than it has reached over the next few years as projects are completed. The relaxation of foreign-exchange restrictions and increased ease of doing business has boosted the reserves. This has resulted in steady gross domestic product (GDP) growth and even greater projections by attracting large investments that will continue to increase airlift, long-stay arrivals and jobs for Barbadians and regional professionals. The island has welcomed Pendry, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Hyatt Hotels and Rex Resorts into the mix, with some nearing completion and others breaking ground or in the planning stages. This includes expansions of the Marriott International and Sandals Resorts International (SRI) groups. Further developments are in the works, with the expansion of the airport and seaport and the addition of two marinas and private islands proposed.
The future is bright for Barbados, and one should seriously consider investing now!
We predict the next six months might slow slightly while more product is brought to market, with even greater results expected by next winter’s season. Overall, we are seeing the recovery of arrivals to pre-pandemic levels, increasing steadily from our primary source markets, with a 20-percent rise in American visitors compared to previous years. Some may argue that Barbados is becoming more exclusive for some, as many markets struggle to recover from COVID’s impact on their resources.
Chesterton remains the leader in luxury real estate on the Platinum Coast of Barbados and is happy to represent many silent listings, from private villas to new construction—such as Carlton Villa for $33 million and the relaunch of the mega-mansion Palazzate for $75 million, alongside multiple large developments of residential offerings on 300- to 500-acre sites in the works.
Significant investors have swooped in and secured many of the large land parcels. Nonetheless, there is always a deal to be had. When it comes to luxury in Barbados, you can count on Chesterton to have its finger on the pulse.