Rentals ride the recession wave

With the global economic crisis looming, property rentals in Cayman have yet to feel a major pinch, according to realtors.

‘We have been busy with rentals as well (as selling real estate). Those that are realistic are renting,’ explained Just Condo’s Roy Powell.

Asked to elaborate on ‘realistic’, Mr Powell said, ‘From the owner’s perspective they have moderately reduced the rent to ensure that the property is occupied, and tenants are seeing the deals and grabbing them up.’

Coldwell Banker’s Annmarie Powell agreed. ‘People are definitely trying to lock in good deals at the moment.’

According to realtors such as Carolyn Ritch of Ritch Realty the top draw in the market remains the executive deluxe rentals.

‘Locations like Seven Mile Beach are the prime locations for rentals by executives. So if any of those open up, even with the economic crisis they will be snapped up in an instant.

‘One and three bedroom houses are rare in the market and people really want those, but we have dozens of two-bedrooms, those are the ones that are negotiable. Naturally, the newer ones tend to go quicker than the older ones, but that is the nature of the beast,’ said Ms Ritch.

Mr. Powell has also found that one-bedrooms are in higher demand than two. ‘Some people really don’t want to share, and even with the downturn in the economy they are willing to pay relatively the same for a one-bedroom in a prime location than they would for a two bedroom with a pool and more amenities in a different location,’ he said.

With regard to low end rentals (below $1,000) he added, ‘We rarely see lower-end rentals because those don’t really need marketing and can easily be rented by word of mouth, so they really don’t affect us.’

Heidi Kiss of Capital Realty said, ‘What fuels the rentals on this island are expatriates. I have found with them Seven Mile Beach is always the first to go, then the George Town/South Sound area. West Bay and Prospect then follow.’

With a sizable drop in the number of work permits from 25,900 on 16 January to 25,434 on 27 February, a bracket that includes the executives who keep local high-end rental industry afloat, realtors still remain optimistic.

‘We do yearly leases so high to low rate leases have already been locked in, so at the moment we haven’t really seen that much of a decline in rentals due to the recession,’ said Ms Kiss. ‘We are hoping for the best but the true test will be in the months to come.’

Mr. Powell added, ‘As I see it we are not in that bad of a situation at the moment. Things can’t really get worse and I am predicting that in 18 months things will only get better.’

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