Property transfers reached a new high last year after a 4.3% increase in sales over 2018. The 1,936 sales counted by chartered surveying practice Charterland in its annual property review resulted in a total sales value of $826 million, about 3.3% higher than in the year before.

Despite the larger number and value of sales, the average value per sale did not increase, as different sub-markets did not perform uniformly during the year.

The report delivers a snapshot of Cayman’s property market before the outbreak of COVID-19 with all its economic side effects.

Simon Watson, of Charterland, said with the coronavirus crisis still unfolding, it would likely be some time before the full impact became clear. “It is obviously a question we are all asking,” he said.

“It is going to stall any sales and the market is going to grind to a halt for a while. What it will do to valuations in the longer term remains to be seen really.”

For 2019, Charterland’s report noted fewer condominium sales in the Seven Mile Beach area, mainly due to a lack of properties for sale relative to the demand. But the average sales price of Seven Mile Beach condos increased to $1.84 million from $1.3 million in 2018 and $965,000 in 2017.

This constitutes a record-breaking 41.5% increase in the average sales value between 2018 and 2019, and a 90% increase over 2015, the property review said.

Last year’s highest priced condominium at the Seafire Residences sold for $6,315,802. The highest priced single-family home sold on South Sound Road for $5,122,882.

In the lower end, two-bedroom townhouse market, such as the Garden, Coco, Mystic and Sunset Retreat developments in George Town off Bobby Thompson Way, the net average sales price increased by 13.5% to $280,772 compared to 2018 and more than 45% over 2015.

“Whilst these increases are lower than those being experienced on Seven Mile Beach, they still represent significant increases compared with previous market norms,” the report said.

Along South Sound Road, the average sales price for properties in the Southern Skies development was $373,665, an 18% increase over the average for 2018 and almost double the average price paid in 2015. Recorded sales prices for Snug Harbour properties, meanwhile, rose by 13% to $276 per square foot, a quarter more than the average in 2015.

In contrast, house sale prices in Savannah fell 19% from $152 per square foot to $123 per square foot between 2018 and 2019. However, they still remained 30% up on 2015.

The types of pre-construction sales hardly changed year on year with the exception of a modest increase in the number of sales in the $1 million-to-$4.99 million range and a corresponding decrease in the $500,000-to-$999,000 category.

The Charterland report included only true sales and no related party transfers to avoid any distortions by non-market transactions.

Watson said Charterland would be doing a mid-year property review to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “The market is certainly going to stall, but how we come out of the other side is the great unknown,” he added.

Repossessions decreased

The number of repossessions of property by lenders, registered as ‘Transfers by Chargee’, dropped from 99 in 2018 to 48 last year. Six of these were related to a single repossession of six strata units. Overall repossessions represented 2.5% of all transfers in 2019 and appeared to be spread out evenly between the main lenders, Charterland said in its property review.

–              James Whittaker contributed to this article.

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