Real Estate Realities

Look before you buy

New Providence has recently experienced storm-like weather, high winds and lots of rain. Major roadways were impassable and driveways and houses became flooded. Call it the effect of climate change or whatever you want, but it was some serious rain coupled with massive lightning. So much so that my cat, Freddie, took refuge under my bed and Max, my dog, not wanting to ride out the storm himself, joined Freddy in my room.

My neighbor to the west of Love Beach, who recently purchased the property, now owns a small lake in his yard. I am not surprised as he had removed every tree that existed, big and small. Trees were not spared, as it looked like he dropped an atomic bomb on the property. Hence, he now has a lake free of charge. Obviously the heavy waters had nowhere to run and no trees to absorb the running water. I have seen small amounts of water settle before on this property, but nothing like what’s happening now.

I am sure some of those trees that were destroyed, permission had to be granted before they were removed, as the law requires you to seek approval before willy-nilly ripping them up. Now the new owner will perhaps replant his property with trees, which he has to spend thousands of dollars on while he had perfectly beautiful trees, especially the poinciana trees, which bloom beautifully when in season.

This is one of the major causes of all of this crazy weather the world is experiencing. Where trees are being destroyed and rain forests are being logged and ravished, trees are the savior of all of us, breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide.

Our Prime Minister Dr. Brave Davis has taken this challenge internationally to let the world know that nations like The Bahamas will not be around in the next 100 years as the rising seas will engulf us.

This problem was not started by us, but industrial countries along with their manufacturing companies (which includes coal-burning countries) are spewing pollution into the atmosphere. Every day they pollute rivers and oceans with toxins, while our islands in The Bahamas slowly lose their shoreline to the rising tide. It’s time for them to be responsible financially for this mess they have created, which we are paying the ultimate price for.

Recently I had introduced a small island that was for sale close to New Providence to a client. However, like most savvy clients, he asked a few questions and one that I didn’t see coming was, “Hey William, how many years before this island goes underwater?” I knew right then this was a lost cause, as I couldn’t honestly disagree with his concerns. That was that and the end of that conversation. Us in The Bahamas need to wake up pretty fast, as all the land you left for your grandchildren will be nothing but a coral reef to show for their piece of Bahama land.

Now for those new landowners, this is a very good time to look at areas that you are interested in building your dream home, to see and inspect if the area is not prone to flooding. In the event you have purchased property that floods, be prepared to pay extra to have it leveled off with enough fill to avoid any flooding or the creation of a man-made lake.

It’s your investment and a very big one and it’s up to you to check. It is not the responsibility of your lawyer or your real estate agent to make you aware of flooding problems.

Footnote before cutting trees down, see which ones you can remove, if not you might find yourself in front of a tree hugging judge and you will have to tell him or her you didn’t know. And they will tell you promptly, “Ignorance is no excuse of the law!”

You have been warned!

• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association and a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. He is also a former president of the Rotary Club of South East Nassau and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of West Nassau. E-mail: williamuwong@gmail.com.

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