St Lucia Market Comment
By David Farrin, Managing Director, Doubloon Real Estate Limited / www.doubloonrealestate.com
“If you are looking to buy in the Caribbean you do not have to look further than St Lucia. It is safe, the topography of the island is beautiful, it’s verdant, the people are warm and above all with The Landings you have a SECURE investment in the long term”
Date: 12th July 2016: British citizen David Farrin moved to St. Lucia in 2003 and established Doubloon Real Estate, specialising in high end developments and private villas on-island. In 2003 David launched Discovery at Marigot Bay, where he sold 53 hotel apartments and 12 Marina Village apartments.
In December 2005 he launched The Landings and was responsible for selling 36 apartments in the first five months, before he resigned his full-time sales position to concentrate more on his own business. David is still selling on The Landings today and talking about the property market and the changes he has seen both in St Lucia and specifically at The Landings (www.landingsvillas.com) David says:
The effect of the recent Brexit announcement…We were disappointed with the outcome of the referendum in the UK and it has naturally brought-up questions about the local property market and how it will fair over the short and medium term. My advice to all is to stay calm. We have experienced many political factors over the years and at The Landings we have proven that we can ride the storms. We already have owners from outside the EU who have found the sales process very straight forward and at the end of the day people’s daily lives continue and the desire of many to leave the UK’s inclement weather and rat race lifestyle will endure. With the political madness that has unfolded in the UK escaping to a dream home in the idyllic Caribbean is probably even more appealing! The quality of life in St Lucia will always be a draw and although sales are likely to slow in the short term they have not suddenly stopped and we are currently in discussion with one interested British buyer who has not even mentioned the word Brexit!
The market in St Lucia has been steadily recovering… The recession hit St Lucia in 2009, a year later than in Europe and this had an impact as we rely mainly on the Brits and the Canadians to sell. However, the market has been steadily recovering buyers in St Lucia today tend to have their eye on the long game. Values at The Landings have held-up better than anywhere else on the island; people who bought elsewhere and are currently selling are in many cases taking a loss. I am not aware of anyone who sold at The Landings and lost on their investment. The worse-case scenario is that vendors might not have gained quite as much as they were anticipating when they first invested.
The Landings has proven to be a safe investment… and now moving forwards over the period of time we should see further gains. The Landings has come through the last recession better than other developments. It is now owned by the villa owners themselves who therefore have complete control over how the resort and the villas are operated and serviced – with owners even being able to sit on the board of the operating company. This is quite unique in the Caribbean and ensures their interests are always paramount.
What you see is what you get…There is a very stable, political situation in St Lucia and people can feel confident investing their money here. Unlike the risks with buying off-plan, it is possible to go and meet the owners at The Landings, to see how genuinely delighted they are with their homes and experience the five star hotel operation which drives the resort.
This is a prime Caribbean location…St Lucia still has the basic essential ingredients that attracts UK buyers i.e. a prime location with sun, sand and sea. The main strength of the market at the moment is around the $500-600K price point hence the new Marina Villas starting at $600K are moving well with two reservations already. Sales of $1 million plus are currently much fewer, but they will come as the market continues to strengthen.
Why buy in St Lucia compared to elsewhere in the world? The Landings is a well-established, well-built development with extremely good security, which is an important factor in the Caribbean. It is a UNIQUE freehold beach location and very competitive in price compared to anywhere else in the Caribbean e.g. 40% cheaper than in Barbados. From thirteen years of living here, I cannot underestimate the importance of the St Lucians being extremely friendly and welcoming. This means owners feel comfortable to go out in downtown Rodney Bay and the local surrounds which is not possible on many other islands.
Like-minded people and enjoyable lifestyle…The owners at The Landings enjoy being amongst like-minded, discerning people who enjoy the social aspect of living in the Caribbean with impromptu get-togethers often after a sail or playing golf etc. A Sunday brunch here is very like going into your local pub as you bump into people you know who introduce you to their friends and before you know it you are immersed in an ever-increasing network. It is like being in an unofficial owners club that is open to all friends and their children. There is a great camaraderie and it is a very civilized environment if you enjoy that sort of thing. If not, it is also possible to keep some distance as everyone respects the privacy of each other’s homes.
Owners cover their service charges…In practice, the rental pool is working best for those willing to rent-out their homes during the big holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas and then use their home themselves at alternative times of the year. There are no guarantees that can be given but service charges are now covered by the rental operation. Of course, The Landings also appeals to some people who want to stay in their home throughout much of the year, but these are not in the majority.
Hassle-free authentic homes…The fully-managed, hassle-free apartments are maintained beautifully and were refurbished in September 2015. The north of the island is much better for families as you have restaurants, bars, supermarkets and a modern shopping mall. Here you can have all the home comforts plus experience the authentic vibe of St Lucia as there are more opportunities to integrate with the community. The south of the island is very pretty but once you step outside the resort there is very little infrastructure around it.
Buying through a company…It is possible to buy at The Landings through an International Business Company (IBC) which can, as the date of writing, have strong tax benefits when owners come to sell as well as making the purchase process quicker. Investors should always however consult independent lawyers on island to get the most up to date advice.
Transparent sales process…It is straight forward as you are dealing with English law and with lawyers who in the main have trained in the UK.
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