Property Perspective: Surveyors conference highlights

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors held their third conference in the Cayman Islands last month, and they highlighted some interesting points that I thought would be worth discussing further in this market update.

Raising the bar

John Hughes, RICS president-elect, spoke about the new emphasis for RICS, focusing on professionalism as they assess their relevance in a changing world. The world, he said, appeared to be driven more by public opinion with a distrust of professionals such as lawyers, accountants, etc., so RICS members cannot just keep pace with a changing world, they must strive to set an example, setting standards that are clear and relevant. Like all industries in the Cayman Islands, we in the real estate profession strive to do our bit to raise the bar when it comes to the professional services that we offer our clients.

New laws

Premier Alden McLaughlin also took to the stand, speaking about new legislation that had either been instigated or was in the pipeline to help the construction, development and real estate industry. He touched on the Builders Law, being rolled out to regulate industry and ensure only licensed entities operate within the law. I believe that enhancing our construction profession will be a very good thing, allowing the public to rely on the fact that builders are licensed and can be held accountable. This will also assist Government’s Planning Department to become more efficient and will give banks an added comfort for when they are required to lend for construction purposes. All in all, therefore, I believe this legislation will be very good for the real estate industry as a whole.

The new legislation currently working its way through government that deals with volumetric or three-dimensional land parcels is another move in the right direction for the real estate industry, highlighting just how far it has evolved in the past few decades when it comes to the sophistication of our industry. This new legislation will allow for the subdivision of parcels which can then facilitate the construction of overhead development, where construction would bridge a public road, for example.

The new legislation will allow this to happen in a smooth and efficient manner, creating all sorts of exciting possibilities for future development of our islands.

Cayman mimicking U.S. market

Having just returned from traveling to an international real estate conference overseas, I found one piece of information from this conference to be particularly pertinent to our own real estate market. Specifically, I learned that there is a lack of new housing construction in North America, as a whole. There has been a significant decline in the amount of new builds and that has contributed to a serious shortfall for would-be buyers there. In the same way, there are pockets of Grand Cayman, namely Seven Mile Beach and now South Sound as well, where chances to buy are quickly drying up.

Buyers need to recognize that the market has changed and inventory is now exceptionally low in these areas. For example, I recently sold two units at Plantana on Seven Mile Beach. Up until now these units usually sold under $1 million. In this case, however, both sold well over $1 million and, crucially, both sold within a matter of days. In my opinion, if you own property in these two areas in particular, it’s a great time to sell.

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