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Top realtor predicts growth

Last year had its challenges, but Bahamas Realty founder, Robin Brownrigg, is optimistic signs of growth will start to show in 2011. The veteran realtor says that prudent lending by Canadian banks insulated the island nation from the worst of the crash. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Despite a recent drop in house values and sales, the future looks bright for the Bahamian real estate sector, according to industry leader Robin Brownrigg, president and founder of Bahamas Realty.

Despite a tough year financially last year, Brownrigg believes that the sector is poised for recovery and has weathered the storm well–partly due to its reliance on Canadian rather than US banks.

“We have all taken a beating, but our values have not been as affected as in the US, as our banks are Canadian. Canadian banks were lending up to 70 per cent, whereas US banks were going as much as 95-100 per cent.

“People over leveraged in the US; they were living beyond their means,” he says. “Banks in The Bahamas have been stable.”

According to Brownrigg, sales at Bahamas Realty began to show improvement over the last six months of 2010 and he is hopeful that, within a year, the company will be seeing even more growth, spurred on by the merger with Paradise Island Sales and Rentals in October last year.

As a home appraiser with Bahamas Realty, Brownrigg says this side of the business has been extremely successful, because of the difficult economic climate. “Last year, I had my best year ever in appraising, because the banks are becoming more careful as to whom they are using in tough times,” he explains. “They need someone they can trust implicitly and that is where my reputation kicks in.”

Brownrigg, who has done appraisal work for several high-profile developments, such as Albany, Baha Mar and Baker’s Bay in Abaco, works closely with Bahamian banks hosting seminars and workshops for their senior loan officers and managers.

Brownrigg is not only looking forward to growth in his business, but also predicting an upswing in the wider Bahamian economy, kick-started by the Baha Mar development.

“Baha Mar will be huge in terms of stabilizing the economy,” he said. “Construction is a barometer of our economy and Baha Mar will play a huge role in the turnaround.”

During the worst of the financial crisis, Brownrigg, who founded Bahamas Realty 30 years ago, says that property values dropped as much as 50 per cent, with the Family Islands in particular feeling the pinch. He believes that The Bahamas lagged behind the US, not feeling the worst of the crash until 2008.

However, the crisis did bring some good news, he adds, by opening up the housing market to more local clients. “The market has become more friendly for Bahamians,” he explained. “Foreign investors drive prices up, but now it is leveling off.”

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