By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamian luxury real estate market could be poised for a rebound this year following a disappointing 2012, a top realtor believes, adding that inventory shortages were always a possibility in such a small market.
Bahamas Realty head, Larry Roberts, said: “I am very upbeat about this year. It’s interesting that I am upbeat, because this past year was not a good year. There was promise but a lot of disappointment.
“There were a lot of exciting things on the horizon. I think this is going to be a good year. We have made some significant sales already this year. We are working with some really good clients. The potential is enormous. We’re positioning ourselves for it. We are getting our agents prepared and doing a lot of extra training with them. I think we are going to see the results.”
Mr Roberts added that inventory shortages in the high-end market have always been a challenge.
“Inventory shortage has always been problem here. We have such a small market,” he said.
“There are maybe a dozen homes in Ocean Club Estates. Twelve properties are not very many, and so if six sells that’s a huge chunk out of what’s available here.
“The same could be said of Lyford Cay and Old Fort Bay. Those are the three major luxury markets. It really doesn’t take that many sales to turn the corner, and say now we have a shortage. It could happen very quickly. There has been no new building. There are a lot of homes built, but you’re not seeing any building at the moment, and you’re probably not likely to see it for another year or two.”
Mr Roberts added: “What’s happening in the United States is in the construction. Because there wasn’t the demand, no one was building, and now you have people wanting to buy and no inventory.
“They’re also talking about a bubble in the US. All the builders now are starting to build and now there is oversupply. You have to be careful that the building keeps pace with the demand and doesn’t overtake it.”
Stephanie Pfeffer, executive vice-president of Luxury Portfolio International, the flagship luxury program,e of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (Leading RE), an international real estate network of independent brokers, told Tribune Business: “I think there is huge opportunity. My point is to show what’s happening in the US; that there is a huge boom and that people are buying in cash.
“People are going back to what is simple and basic. These are people that didn’t grow up with wealth; they acquired it on their own. They have very middle class values. The things that are most important to them are family and having an opportunity to be with family.
“So home has become a refuge, and it’s a place that they want to be able to escape to rather than invest in. It’s really something emotional for them. When you are working with real estate brokers around the world, we help them to understand how to sell to clients that are interested in emotion and interested in worth.”
Ms Pfeffer added: “When people are looking to buy second homes, there is a huge opportunity. In 2009, there were a lot more affluent people with second homes. They got rid of them by 2011, and now we are seeing them looking to invest in second homes again.
“We asked them what’s important to you when purchasing a second home, and the number one thing was a beach community, a resort and a gated community, and I think pool was the other one. The Caribbean falls really high on that list because you have all of those things naturally.”