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How the U.S. Election is Fuelling Caribbean Real Estate

09.11.20

Just last week, broker Ian Hurdle closed on a $5.2 million sale in Turks and Caicos involving a family from California.

The sale was the direct result, he told Abode2 of dissatisfaction with the current political climate in the United States.

“The buyers were fed up with politics,” said Hurdle, founder and director of The Agency Turks and Caicos. “And they’re not the only clients I’m working with on this basis,” he adds.

Now, though, another factor is driving more sales in the region: political uncertainty and the fall-out from the election in the United States.

No matter which side of the aisle, brokers say buyers are looking to the security and seclusion of investments in Caribbean real estate amid what they perceive as an increasingly uncertain political climate in the United States.

Gavin Christie, managing partner at CA Christie Real Estate in The Bahamas, said he’d seen a “definite uptick in the last 60 days” from US Citizens “who are engaged and looking in The Bahamas.”

“A lot of the interest is politically motivated, meaning they will likely decide to spend more time in the US or buy a property in The Bahamas and spend less time in the US,” Christie said.

In Puerto Rico, an American commonwealth that, while part of the United States, is geographically removed from the continental U.S. and has a number of federal tax incentives for mainland emigres, the market is on “absolute fire,” said Oriana Juvelier, Vice President and broker at Puerto Rico Sotheby’s International Realty.

Another driving factor, brokers say, is that it’s easier than ever before to actually move to the Caribbean, making “flight” from the mainland United States far more feasible.

More and more jurisdictions offer the chance to be eligible for permanent residency based on reaching a certain threshold with a real estate purchase.

The Kimpton Seafire and Residences at Seafire in Grand Cayman. In Turks and Caicos, for example, buyers can obtain a homeowner’s permit for five years (subsequently renewable) after buying a home or condo valued over $300,000.

And now destinations like Cayman, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados are offering extended-stay programmes, some, like Cayman of up to two years.

Of course, there’s also the option of obtaining citizenship by investment through the purchase of real estate.

And that’s where perhaps the most interesting shift is taking shape. For years, citizenship by investment programmes in countries like Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis and Dominica were popular for those in regions like the Middle East and Asia.

There was little interest from the United States.

But now, the political climate has actually driven an uptick in demand for citizenship by investment, according to Mohammed Asaria, whose Range Developments have developed some of the Caribbean’s premier CIP-funded projects in the Caribbean, from the Park Hyatt St Kitts to the new Six Senses project in Grenada.

“In a nutshell, yes,” Asaria said when asked if he was seeing U.S. demand for CIP.

What hasn’t changed, though, is the demand for social distancing, seclusion and spaced-out Providenciales.

“We remain busy with the guiding buying principle being health preservation given the climate and limited density our islands offer,” he said. “Safe haven prevails.”

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