Raising the permanent residence ceiling
The Bahamas Real Estate Association is currently lobbying the government to halt the increase of the $500,000 purchase amount non-Bahamian owners must spend to be fast-tracked to become permanent residents of The Bahamas.
The government is proposing to increase this amount to $750,000; should this be approved, the new amount would become effective July 1, 2018.
The problem we have as Bahamians is that we don’t value what we have in The Bahamas and often sell ourselves short, resulting in our propensity to attract the not-so-wealthy people to our shores, settling for those that can barely make the cut!
In addition, these same folks that are fast-tracked to permanent resident status within the $500,000 are competing for those same homes with Bahamians in that same price range.
In some cases these non-Bahamians hardly have enough money to purchase the lot and in turn pursue local financing to build the home.
In my mind, I would think if you want to get permanent residence you should have your funds in hand and not have to rely on loans from our local institutions. I believe doing so is called foreign direct investment, which is what we want, not the former by hitting on our banks to build your home!
In some cases these properties are then put on the market and used as vacation homes such as “Airbnb”, sometimes to the annoyance of full time residents. You can imagine being a neighbor to a rented property of this category – different people coming in and out and an unknown resident every other day!
We are a beautiful destination with one of our best selling points being our proximity to the United States compared to other Caribbean islands, most being two hours further south of us.
As Bahamians, we have the tendency of not appreciating what we have to offer and it’s often seen when we are in negotiations with foreign investors; it would appear that we get “out-negotiated” and give away the whole store.
Once you decide to sell your home, it’s your real estate agent that does the negotiations on your behalf; you tell the agent what you want and this is conveyed to the prospective buyer, which takes the emotions out of selling your home as you sit in the background and say yay or nay when the offers are presented.
We have to believe that we have the greatest product to sell and those that want to live here have to pay for that privilege, and those folks who can afford to pay our price will be the same ones who will assist us in building a better country.
As the old saying goes, “When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”, so to get the best investors to our country they have to feel special and that they are living among persons of the same ilk, similar to those residents of Lyford Cay and Albany.
So if you give permanent residence to every Tom, Dick and Harry for $500,000, The Bahamas becomes like the rest of the islands further south, giving away passports to potential investors.
Keep The Bahamas a special place and for those who want to play here they will have to pay!
- William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation and two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association. William Wong is a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.