High-end property sales surge

Tourists buying high-end properties are driving a huge improvement in real estate sales, according to industry experts. 

Overall sales jumped by 40 percent in 2014, with the net sales value for property transactions up by US$150 million – more than 50 percent – according to figures from the Cayman Islands Real Estate Association. 

J.C. Calhoun, owner of real estate firm Coldwell Banker, said the tide is starting to turn toward a “seller’s market” for the first time since the economic downturn of 2008. 

He said the revival of the U.S. economy is fueling increased demand for luxury property in the Cayman Islands. 

“We haven’t yet seen the same increase in the local residential sector. Typically, you have to have a couple of good years in the tourism sector before you see a jump in the local market,” he said. Mr. Calhoun added that signs are good that the impacts of the global recession are coming to an end.  

“This was the first really good year for us since 2007,” he said. 

Michael Day, chairman of CIREBA, cautioned that there are still a number of foreclosures and forced sales in the local residential market. 

He said the sale of the WaterColours luxury condo units on Seven Mile Beach likely accounted for a large part of the US$150 million increase in net sales for 2014. 

“There is a definite upswing in the high end of the market, and that could well be a sign that our economy is poised to do well in the next few years,” he added. 

Kim Lund, owner of estate agent Re/Max, said U.S. customers, who account for some 80 percent of sales on Seven Mile Beach, are becoming less risk averse amid credible signs of a sustained economic recovery in the States. 

He said the demographics of the baby boomer generation mean that there is an excess of wealthy buyers looking for retirement homes. 

“Right now, sales momentum is good and slowly building,” he said. “As long as development is able to keep ramping up and investors can see progress, it appears that this positive surge in business activity will continue and hopefully accelerate.” 

Mr. Lund also cited the investment in new hotels and condominium developments, as well as the long-term plan for Camana Bay, as enticements to would-be property investors. 

“Purchasers of real estate see that these improvements will drive value and capital appreciation by making Cayman a more desirable, sought-after place to visit and live,” he said. 

In its 2014-2015 market report, Coldwell Banker forecasts “sunny skies” ahead for the industry. 

However, the report sounds a note of caution that sellers should not adjust their expectations too quickly. 

“While we think the tide is turning to finally favor the seller after seven years of a buyer’s market, this will be the first season where that is the case. 

“While we do expect to see more properties listed at increasingly higher prices, we don’t expect the buyers to step up and swallow huge increases with all the worldwide financial uncertainty,” the report states. 

Mr. Calhoun believes the overall signs are optimistic, barring a “catastrophe” in the U.S. 

“What happens in Cayman is directly linked to the U.S. economy. If the U.S. goes into recession, we go into recession. When the U.S. starts to recover, we recover right afterwards,” he added. 

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  1. Good news. Certainly an improving US economy helps but I wonder how much of this recent increase in real estate sales is due to the FATCA laws.

    At present US citizens with accounts in Cayman banks must disclose those accounts to the IRS…but do not have to disclose real estate holdings…

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  2. It baffles me how the Dump and luxury can coexist. Aren’t the former eliminates the latter? One is never too far from the Dump on this island.

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  3. Great News for everyone that has their money invested into the Cayman Real Estate Market..

    @L.Bell, great point you made, however it doesn’t seem like the CIG feels the same way. It also seems like they feel that the dump can coexist better with luxury and Caymans primary tourist district than it could with BoddenTown. This is most likely why the CIG is willing to spend hundreds of millions of Dollars to keep it out of BoddenTown.

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  4. Cayman Islands might look like a luxury paradise to transient tourists, but it is largely an illusion, a marketing ploy. This is what an eye can’t see. Gray water discharge from cruise ships,toxic leachate from the Dump affecting surface water and fresh groundwater supply, poorly treated or untreated wastewater. in 2009 Observer reported that almost every private septic tank was exceeding treated sewage discharge regulatory parameters, in some cases almost 275 times over the legal limit.From the Observer on Sunday (2009): if we compare the amount of treated and untreated wastewater being released into the ground compared to what is going into Mount Trashmore, our problem is at least three time greater. But on the surface everything is hunky-dory. It only becomes visible when one gets a really nasty diagnosis and life time savings, ironically made while working long stressful hours in the Cayman Islands, are spent on treatments and caretakers.
    This is about water. How about air?I am not talking about the Dump’ toxic stench, everybody knows about it. How about so called safe aerial mosquito control? How about pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides which are widely used on this island? Don’t forget about sunscreen for a full measure. Now, what we eat. Do you know what is in the fish you eat, taking into account it is caught in local waters? You don’t drink tap water? Do you know if the blue bottles of clean water you buy are PBA free? They are delivered and probably stored in high temperature, which speeds up chemicals release into water. I asked a water company guy about it, he had no clue what I was talking about. How about heavily promoted vaccinations? Do you feel being an unwitting lab rat?
    I am not trying to be a scaremonger. We have no choice but to take all risks that come with simply being alive. We can minimize some of it though,if we aware. I am just saying that Grand Cayman is not exactly a luxury, contributing to longevity, paradise. Luxury is not a material object.

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  5. When are we going to see someone catering to the low-end market.This is something that is sorely needed,yet no one seems prepared to take it on.We ask people to work at low paying jobs ,yet they have no chance of ever, ever owning any property or buying a home on those salaries.

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  6. While a lot of people don’t agree with what Ms Bell said in her comment . I think that it makes a lot of sense. The environment where were we all live in, breathe, drink the water, swimming, eat food from. Please don’t tell me that you are happy with smelling the dump, and breathing the dump fire. These dump fire’s can be burning things you don’t know, then it’s not too far from the north sound with swamp land which is very easy for these things that you don’t know about gets into the water by leaching. Think about all the home’s with septic systems, where’s the stuff going not down, it’s going out to the water/ocean. This kind of living is third world living. What’s the sense of living in a nice house and not being able to live outside of it . I think that it’s a shame that the government is not looking at doing something about these hazardous issues, but spending millions of dollars where they should not.

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  7. Can you imagine smelling the dump tire fire from Bodden Town? Then after putting it their , can you imagine buying marl from there? The plastic liner holding all those wonderful pesticides and nail cleaner remover ?
    The chemical acids and bases breaking down plastic in time would be no different then placing it in the ground. Then what?
    If it’s not working in GT what would make anyone think it would work anywhere else in Grand Cayman?
    Ship it off island to another country that needs it for waste to energy plants.
    Bodden town is not the solution . It will be the center of Cayman in the future.

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  8. @LBell – you have made some very valid points, that have bothered me for years. The experts should analyze the correlation of the high incidence of cancer in Cayman, and pollution of air and water resources. It is definitely a Marketing ploy – things are only rosy on the surface.

    @DavidMiller – ship it where? The waste should be kept where it is produced. Cayman needs to develop systems and solutions to manage the high amount of waste that it produces, and the carbon footprints. If anything, Cayman needs the waste more than any other country to fertilize its sandy soil-type.

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  9. @ Forest Anda – Whatever trash that is not burnt in a waste to energy program will eventually be sent off island to recycling plants. Most wastes are produced by industrial like grocery stores,hotels etc. they are where most trash comes from . Recycle batteries from vehicles or your computers ,laptops,cellphones would be collected by stores and shops in GT.
    Thats why the problem of trash should be solved in town. That trash cannot be buried in a landfill it has to be shipped out to a larger country where they have recycle facilities.

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  10. @David Miller, Curious if it as simple as just sending the trash off island, why is CIG preparing to spend over 100 Million Dollars for an on Island solution, which I actually do not believe will ever happen because Cayman cannot afford it or borrow the money to do it. The truth will come out during and after the next election.

    I also believe that shipping non recyclable garbage from one country to another is illegal or in the least immoral, the only countries that will take it are place that are hard up for money and all they do is pile it up like Mount Trashmore contaminating it’s own people. That is no different than throwing you trash over the fence into your neighbors yard so you don’t have to deal with it.

    One last question, do you live in Bodden Town? I only ask this because I believe if you do it would make you bias to the situation and nothing would make you agree to the idea of a new facility there even if it were state of the art and free.

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  11. Here’s a few articles to read about sending trash to other countries. Cayman will be hard pressed to find someone else to take their unrecyclable trash.

    I also find it interesting that people who say it’s not right for trash from other districts in Cayman to go to a site in Bodden Town yet suggest it go to another country. Cayman will either have to figure out how to handle their own garbage properly are eventually Mount Trashmore will cover the whole island.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/09/chinas-crackdown-on-trash-could-make-it-harder-for-u-s-cities-to-recycle/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/science/earth/27waste.html?pagewanted=all_r=0

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/craig-and-marc-kielburger/canada-manila-recycling_b_5452730.html

    http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/14/toxic-ewaste-illegal-dumping-developing-countries

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  12. Hi David, I read the article and I do understand your point, however there are a lot of different landfill designs and what’s put into it is what makes all the difference with how stable it is. The point I was trying to make about the the Bodden Town option was that is was much better than doing nothing, which is what’s being done now and I do not believe that shipping the garbage off island will be feasible and I doubt Cayman will be able to invest the money it will cost for a waste to energy option such as Norway where they burn all their trash as well as their neighbors’, ultimately Cayman will need to come up with a realistic solution. Right now all that happening is talk.

    Obviously whoever is in charge at the time will do or not do what they want, which is the problem and why Mount Trashmore just keeps growing like a ticking time bomb.

    In my opinion the offer from Dart was the only option that actually had a chance of materializing because it was to be done by someone other than the CIG.

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