By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A MAJOR western New Providence real estate development is on track to this year surpass 2011 sales by 30-40 per cent, its principal telling Tribune Business yesterday that it was preparing to take total build-out value to $50 million by starting two more construction phases in 2012.
Jason Kinsale, president of The Balmoral project, located on Sandford Drive just east of the US Ambassador's residence, said the development planned to reach 84 units with its fourth phase offering of a condominium/townhome mix, with construction set to start within 60 days.
And he told Tribune Business that The Balmoral anticipated starting Phase Five construction, which is intended to take the development to 119 units, in another six months.
Explaining that The Balmoral was continuing to attract strong buyer interest, especially from overseas markets such as Canada despite the difficult world economy, Mr Kinsale expressed concern that his target Bahamian market - young professionals - would "miss an opportunity" to acquire value-for-money real estate if they continued to "sit on the fence".
Speaking to Tribune Business ahead of Saturday's open house, where The Balmoral is showcasing the remaining three of its 12 Aristo condos, priced at $279,000, Mr Kinsale said all these units - together with 12 townhomes - were included in the development's proposed phase four expansion.
"We'll be building out to 84 total units with phase four," he told Tribune Business. "Construction will start within the next 60 days. We're getting that finalised and ready to move. We're seeing demand in different areas - three-bed townhomes, two-bed townhomes, two-bed condos."
The Balmoral was in the process of completing phase construction on 21 townhome units, and Mr Kinsale said: "I think what we're seeing now is the foreigners are representing 50 per cent of our buyers.
"In the initial phases, 70 per cent were Bahamian and 30 per cent foreign. I'd like to see the Bahamian buyers regain confidence a bit. I do sincerely believe that Bahamians are going to miss an opportunity. Let's say we increase prices by $10,000 a unit next year. How does any persons save an extra $10,000? It's hard.
"The foreign buyers are coming and making decisions quicker. Foreign direct investment is vital right now. The Bahamians just need to overcome their fear. I think they have the money, but they have got to get off the fence and do something. We need them to come back."
Still, Mr Kinsale said The Balmoral continued to provide "a very strong rental market" for homeowners who bought to let, disclosing that there was "just one vacancy in the entire development".
Some 70 per cent of The Balmoral's purchasers were owner-occupiers, with 30 per cent acquiring as an investment, and Mr Kinsale said the average $3,500 monthly rent on a $385,000 property was generating good value.
The Balmoral's attraction as a rental market, he added, was being aided by the fact that inventory in the Cable Beach area was "looking a bit tired. When you drive through Cable Beach, there are not many choices, and when you look under the covers they're not as attractive as you may think".
When it came to sales, Mr Kinsale told Tribune Business: "We're heading towards 13-14 closings this year, so we're having a very good year.
"We're going to beat last year for sure, and will probably surpass 2011 by 30-40 per cent on the trend we're seeing now. It could change, but it's what we anticipate. Phase four will sell out for sure. We pre-sell generally 70-80 per cent before we start construction.
"Phase five will start in six months based on the trend we're seeing. That will be more townhomes, both three-bed and two-bed."
Once phase five was completed, and The Balmoral reached 119 units, Mr Kinsale said total build-out value would reach $50 million, not including family lots and home sales. A further 12 acres remained for future build-out, and each construction phase to date has seen 75-100 workers employed.
Mr Kinsale said between 60-70 per cent of construction materials used at The Balmoral, such as blocks, steel and wood, were purchased in the Bahamas rather than imported, as better value was obtained.
Charting the project's economic contribution over the past few years, he added that it had generated Stamp Duty "in the millions of dollars" for the Public Treasury, and kept attorneys and accountants busy. "Real estate has one of the widest impacts in the economy," Mr Kinsale said.