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Realtors: Dorian Tax Breaks 'Plus' As Vultures Hover

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Mike Lightbourn

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Bahamian realtors yesterday hailed the government's post-Dorian Economic Recovery Zone incentives as a "big plus" but warned other measures were required to kickstart the rebuild.

Mike Lightbourn, Coldwell Banker Lightbourn Realty's president, told Tribune Business that utilities infrastructure and living accommodation for the thousands of construction workers required to rebuild Abaco and east Grand Bahama were priorities just as urgent.

He confirmed that himself and other realtors at his firm were also fielding inquiries from "vultures" eager to snap up Abaco real estate at bargain prices following the deadliest storm likely to have ever struck The Bahamas.

"It's great. It'll be a big plus," Mr Lightbourn said of the incentives. "But we need to put some infrastructure in place before people rebuild. That'll also encourage the vultures even more. We've had several vultures looking for real estate bargains and making it very clear they're interested in any bargains in Abaco or Grand Bahama.

"One guy was quite polite about it and said it may be inappropriate at this time, and apologised for making that request. He said that if it was going to cause problems making this request at this time, he would communicate with me at a later date. The next day we had more vultures e-mailing us looking for deals."

The prime minister on Sunday said the combined tax breaks and incentives package to stimulate recovery in the areas hardest hit by Dorian largely mirrors that employed for his over-the-hill revival initiative, although it goes beyond that in a bid to revive the real estate market so vital to Abaco's economy.

A VAT credit of up to 50 percent upon the sale of all property in the Economic Recovery Zones will be permitted - a benefit that could be worth several million dollars to buyers and sellers of high-end property in Abaco and its cays.

To qualify for this credit, the sale must immediately be followed by substantial construction or enhancement to the property, or its use for significant commercial activity. The qualifying activity must begin within 75 days of the sale closing, be followed through the scheduled completion otherwise the full VAT sum becomes payable.

Elsewhere, real property tax will not be payable on all eligible properties that are reconstructed, restored or otherwise inhabitable by October 2020.

The Government, however, recognised that any real property tax breaks would solely apply to foreign real estate owners, as Bahamian-owned property in the Family Islands is not subject to this tax.

Rather than a blanket exemption, the Prime Minister announced in foreign land holders in Abaco, the Abaco cays and east Grand Bahama "may" be able to benefit from real property tax breaks only if their developed properties are up to standard or they are taking steps to getting them back up to standard.

While this is designed to aid the second home and vacation rental market, undeveloped properties owned by foreigners in the Economic Recovery Zones will not benefit from the real property tax exemption.

Mr Lightbourn added that while the initiatives "sound great, our biggest problem right now, certainly in Abaco, is bringing in construction workers". He had no objection to the real property tax breaks as "we need foreigners to come here to boost the economy".

He was echoed by Mario Carey, founder of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate MCR Bahamas Group, who said of the real estate incentives: "I think it's all good. I hope it's a work in progress and that they can make amendments as the process evolves. I hope there's an ability to change things as you're going to need to add to that."

Mr Carey also identified the provision of worker housing as a key issue in the rebuilding process post-Dorian.

Comments

Godson 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Mr Lightbourn added that while the initiatives "sound great, our biggest problem right now, certainly in Abaco, is bringing in construction workers". He had no objection to the real property tax breaks as "we need foreigners to come here to boost the economy".

This anti-Bahamian pro-foreigner workforce stance needs to be check. Why don't Mike promote work for us Bahamians? Why don't he want our own to develop their construction skills and empower themselves through gainful employment? Opportunities in The Bahamas should empasize and place Bahamians first.

it seems that Mike would rather continue on allocating away the opportunities to develop construction trade skills from the Bahamian populace in favor of Chinese workers and other nationalities. He seems to be more preferable for him that those of us who would otherwise be Bahamian construction workers, be busy about killing each other on the streets while they promote the interest of "foreign construction workers".

Does this crew believe in Bahamian? At the forefront of their mind, and all they seem to emphasize at any given opportunity is bringing in foreign workers.

Every opportunity that arise they seize on it as an opportunity to compliment their foreign initiatives. Where are the Bahamian initiative and aspiring souls you ought to have encouraged and left in place? Sad! Sad! Sad!

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Bobsyeruncle 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I don't see any mention of foreign construction workers. I bet he was referring to construction workers coming in from other islands in the Bahamas. They too will need to be put up somewhere during the rebuilding process. Now how many of those Bahamian construction workers have any formal accreditation or training is another matter entirely. My biggest worry would be the quality of workmanship, as you know every person and their dog will be claiming to be an experienced construction worker, when the call goes out and the bell starts ringing.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks, 3 days ago

This may well be one time the hovering vultures and equally greedy realtors justly learn an important lesson the hard way. Prices of properties in high end coastal communities all along the southeastern seaboard of the U.S. (from Florida up through the Carolinas) are coming under serious downward pressure because of declining buyers (falling demand) attributed to fears about rising sea levels and the risks posed by the increasing frequency of catastrophic hurricanes like Dorian.

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DWW 3 weeks ago

dont believe that for a second.

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