The luxury real estate market has seen about a 30 percent uptick in interest as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led the ultra-rich to find more secluded island paradises to self-isolate.
Managing Partner of C.A. Christie Gavin Christie said the trends circulating in the luxury market have changed drastically from wealthy buyers who once sought sleek penthouses, to now opting for more remote properties.
“In the luxury space right now in The Bahamas is hot. We’ve probably seen an uptick I would estimate about 30 percent in requests for showings, requests for online walkthroughs, video walkthroughs, drone video. So that section of the market is rocking,” Christie told Guardian Business.
“Due to the pandemic, there have been new words that have been introduced to the luxury space and those are safety, security, seclusion, privacy, remote, off the grid, private island. Before, in the luxury space where the talk was penthouse, now it’s private island. Persons aren’t asking about square footage as much as they were, they’re not asking about what type of finishes; they want a place that’s safe, a place that’s secluded and gives them the security, but also has the access to all the daily amenities.”
Christie said he believes The Bahamas has sufficient inventory to meet the global demand for luxury beachfront and private properties.
“We have a lot of inventory. Another thing we’ve also noticed is that now more than ever, our Family Islands are trending and it’s a great time for The Bahamas, our Family Islands, Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Exuma and cays, these are trending because these are waterfront properties which are considered ‘off the grid’ and you have the ultra-wealthy from around the world that realize in the event there’s another pandemic and they need to quarantine, why not quarantine on the beach,” he said.
With the tourism industry near a standstill because of global travel precautions, the strength of the other pillars of the Bahamian economy have become even more critical as the government seeks to recoup lost revenue.
The government collected $66.9 million in taxes from realty transactions during the 2019/2020 fiscal year, a 70 percent drop compared to the year before.
On the domestic side, Christie said while companies are not seeing a lot of new deals in the pipeline, there are lots of closings that are ongoing.
“We’re still having closings, these would have been properties that were transacted prior to COVID-19 and are still moving through the closing process. On the luxury side, it’s a totally different market,” he said.
“I think our local market for the rest of the year there are a number of different factors that are going to play in there and that we just have to watch. What we find with the local market is a lot of it is heavily tied to financing and that depends really on what the financial institutions are going to do. Are they going to tighten up or are they going to remain consistent? Depending on that and a number of other factors is really going to say where our local market goes.
“Currently now we’re still seeing interest, we’re still getting calls and requests for properties within the local market. But that market is heavily tied to finance and so if that financing dries up, then I think there could be potential downturns within the local space.”