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Realtor calls on govt to incentivize real estate sector for continued economic growth

A leading realtor yesterday called on the government to further incentivize the real estate sector to see continued economic growth, this in light of a Department of Statistics report that showed a 0.9 percent increase in the real estate industry significantly contributed to the marginal growth in gross domestic product (GDP) The Bahamas experienced last year.

Mario Carey, who is the principal of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate MCR Bahamas Group, said the numbers show how significant the real estate sector is for the Bahamian economy.

“I’ve always advocated that real estate be recognized as the third tier of what drives our economy. Everybody always talks about tourism and the financial services sector, but a healthy real estate environment is where most nations build their wealth. Without a healthy real estate environment, no country can succeed in building wealth and increasing GDP,” Carey said in an interview with Guardian Business.

“That being said, the market is very active. I think it’s a combination of people still seeing value in The Bahamas, [and] I think statistics show that Abaco is the most vibrant market. We’ve had a lot of developers purchase big development opportunities, so the bulk of that would probably be a lot of future planned projects in Nassau and the Family Islands. If you look at all of the different heads of agreements out there there’s a combination of small scale and large scale developments.”

Carey attributed the boom in the real estate market to a number of factors including a reduction in prime lending rates and the robust tourism industry.

“I think being able to borrow money, for those that qualify, and having access to funds helps with that as well. Bank lending rates are the lowest that I’ve seen in my history, so I think that helps as well. I think with tourist arrivals and Airbnb, people are seeing good investment opportunities through that combination as well,” he said.

“I think the government should focus on more incentives to better the sector. There are still a lot of roadblocks when it comes to internal revenue and closing, foreign investment board approvals, duty free incentives versus non-duty free incentives. I think the government can still tidy it up a bit and help the sector some more.”

Earlier this month, Central Bank Governor John Rolle said the bank is looking to reform the interaction between exchange control and the real estate market, in terms of how those types of transactions are processed and approved.

In that regard, Carey said, “I think that should be a top priority because it is a hindrance. It’s hard to get straight answers when people come here to look at doing large-scale investments, it’s a very difficult process, so the more we can streamline that is good.”

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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