So the recovery from worldwide recession moves forwards in
stops and starts with the term double dip being used more frequently than any
of us would like. The European and US economies report cards grades range from
below average C’s to outright F’s in many cases and only the Pacific Rim
appears to be showing any signs of life.
So where does this leave the Cayman economy and real estate
market, the two of which are of course intricately intertwined?
Well we’ve just come out of one of the best high seasons for
stay over tourism and real estate sales for the past decade and as such it’s
unsurprising that as we head into our traditionally slower time of year that
both have cooled off. Sales volumes and numbers were down for the months of
April and May, however increased significantly again in June and the good news
remains that year to date statistics show sales of CI$322 million for the year
until the end of June which are still substantially up on the year to date
sales of CI$161 million achieved during the same period last year. So in
summary mid year figures for 2011 show a 200 per cent increase in sales volumes
over 2010. That said, the number of sales have not risen and in fact are
slightly lower than 2010 which means that the dollar value of each sale is
significantly higher this year than last and indicates that whilst the higher end
of the market is recovering nicely, the lower end is still hurting.
That said compared to many economies of the world our issues
appear to be and are highly manageable. As a community we’ve so far managed to
avoid the spectre of possible taxation, which would be the kiss of death to an
economy whose main sales feature is tax neutral position and we’ve done this
through promising budget cuts and methods of new revenue raising projects,
which will grow and diversify the economy.
We undoubtedly need to do a better job at balancing our
budget in future before the FCO will have the confidence that we’re in control
of our spending but we do have a range
of projects on the starting line. Since my last report the projects covered by
the Dart MoU have lined up along side the Shetty Hospital, the Special Economic
Zone and the East End Port. So now we have the rerouting of the West Bay Road
and completion of the bypass road to West Bay, the relocation and remediation
of the dump and the creation of a new efficient waste management plant. If you
this compare this picture to the one 18 months ago certainly it’s a rosier one.
The main threat now therefore is one of inaction. As of yet
we have to see one of these projects break ground and that is essential for
continued confidence in the economy and the continual improvement in the real
estate market. The sales boom in the first part of this year was a vote of
confidence in Cayman from both existing investors such as Dart and external
investors who saw the many positives that Cayman has to offer. However we can
only sustain this if the projects we are talking about substantially move
themselves forward and do so soon. There are good signs in that both the Dr.
Shetty Hospital and Special Economic Zones appear to have moved substantially
towards acquiring sites, however the flip-flop we’ve been doing on the George
Town Port is confusing and sends totally the wrong signal to the business
community and to international investors. Frankly at this point I don’t believe
most of Cayman’s business community care much about who builds so long as the
contract is an equitable one for Cayman, the contractor can perform and most
importantly – we get it built!
Our greatest threat at this time is inaction. On the flip
side of the coin, if we are able to move these projects forward, I see the real
possibility of a boom in Cayman’s economy and a real estate market with growth
that we haven’t seen since the mid nineties. We’re not there yet, but if we can
take a few more steps in the right direction then there is a real chance we can
fulfil our potential as one of the main growth centres of the Caribbean and
Central Americas region over the next decade, growth which will assist at all
levels in the real estate market, high, mid and low.
For more information:
Jeremy Hurst, President
T: 949 7099
E: [email protected]