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Property sales to see uptick on better economic outlook

Improved tourism and a better economic outlook in The Bahamas is creating conditions where property prices are expected to rise and the number of transactions grow, according to Luke Smith, managing director of Crystal Investment and Real Estate. 

Property Wire
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bahamas ViewImproved tourism and a better economic outlook in the Bahamas is creating conditions where property prices are expected to rise and the number of transactions grow, it is claimed.

Although there are no official house price figures, values are estimated by local agents to have dropped by 30% to 40% from 2007 to 2010 and but they are now starting to recover and sales volumes are picking up, according to Luke Smith, managing director of Crystal Investment and Real Estate.

He pointed out that the Bahamas is expecting double digit growth in visitor arrivals for 2014 and with a mature tourism infrastructure supporting approximately 1.5 million stopover visitors and 3.5 million cruise visitors per annum along with a progressive service industry, tourism has become the largest driver of the economic activity in the Bahamas.

Moreover, with recent new investments such as the Atlantis Phase III, the Baha Mar Development Company in the Cable Beach strip, and a number of projects planned for the Family Islands, the tourism industry is poised for exponential growth and development.

‘A major contribution to the recent growth in the overall Bahamian economy is Kerzner International’s Atlantis Resort and Casino, which took over the former Paradise Island Resort and has provided a much needed boost to the economy. The islands’ zero rate income tax, capital gains tax, wealth tax and VAT is clearly luring wealthy foreign investors looking to avoid spiralling tax burdens overseas,’ explained Smith.

‘The Bahamas’ tax situation is very attractive to foreigners, many of whom choose to become residents. There are no taxes on income, sales, estates or inheritances and there is no capital gains tax on real estate,’ he said.

‘Foreigners who own properties in the Bahamas are eligible for a home owner’s residence card which is renewable annually and those who purchase properties valued at least US$500,000 are given priority in permanent residence applications,’ he added.

However, property does not need to be that expensive. There are one and two bedroom beach cottages in the Bahamas Rum Cay project that start at £81,500. The development is part of the Ocean Hotel and Spa Resort Bahamas Rum Cay and the beach cottages are located on the beach front with sea views and offer an ROI of 41 to 50%.

Smith said that a deposit of £1,000 is needed to secure a unit and there are 70% deferred payments over five, 10 and 15 years. Also on offer is a 13% rental return and five year buy back package. The Hotel and Spa resort will be completed 2015 and investors will be entitled to 90 days personal usage.

According to the firm the absence of official property price statistics should not put people off buying. ‘Financial statistics only go so far. The best measure of a property’s market value is often the sale prices of nearby properties. The same holds true for area rents. A low price can often be justified by a reasonable rent. Renters who can afford a high rent can afford to buy instead, so reasonably priced rent is a need,’ it says in a report for investors.

It also advises potential buyers and residents not to base their tax investment on current tax laws. ‘The tax code is constantly changing, and a good investment is a good investment regardless of the tax code. The right property with the right financing is what you should look for as an investor,’ it says.

‘Start in a market segment you know. Whether you focus on foreclosures, starter homes, low down payment properties, condominiums, or small apartment buildings, you’ll benefit from experience by specialising in one aspect of investment real estate properties,’ it adds.

Buyers who want to achieve an income from their investment are advised to look carefully at the financials including operating expenses, loan payments, vacancy costs and taxes.

‘Taxes are an integral part of successful real estate investing, and they often make the difference between a positive cash flow and a negative one. Know the tax situation, and see how it can be manipulated to your advantage. It may be a good idea to consult a tax advisor,’ the guide points out.

‘If it’s a buy to let investment, ensure you have the right insurance cover to protect your property and rental income. Also ask the local utilities to verify recent utility expenses, especially if any of these costs are included in your tenant’s rent,’ it adds.

Source: Property Wire.

Continuing on recent trends, Smartcool Systems Inc (TSX-V: SSC) is expanding its ECO3 energy efficiency product distribution network across the Caribbean region. Building outwards from its sales and technical hub in South Florida, Smartcool has signed new distribution agreements with local partners in The Bahamas, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

JetBlue Airways, New York's Hometown Airline, and Silver Airways, which offers more flights within Florida and to The Bahamas than any other US airline, yesterday announced the formation of an interline ticketing partnership to allow travelers to easily connect between the carriers' networks via Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Orlando, Tampa or Fort Myers.

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