By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamian realtors are looking to ensure that 2022 is a continuation of the “best year ever” in high-end property transactions.
Ryan Knowles, founder and chief executive of MAISON Bahamas, told Tribune Business that his partnership with Forbes International enhances the company’s ability to market this nation and its real estate options to a broader network of high net worth individuals.
He said: “We’ve seen, because of COVID-19, wealthy individuals from different parts of the world, but mainly in our case from New York and Toronto, moving to The Bahamas to a warmer climate, places that had less restrictions in some cases, but also just offered a better quality of life during an uncertain time. The Bahamas was one of them.
“So our market has seen a lot of these folks moving here, and our market has improved greatly because of this. We had the best year ever in the history of Bahamian real estate in 2021, and we see that trend continuing in 2022. More and more people are coming and still want to come. It’s just a matter of finding the right property. They all want to be in The Bahamas, and we want them to be there as well.”
Rhonda Waton, MAISON Bahamas’ co-founder chief and chief operating officer, added: “I would have to say that the Family Islands, when you talk about inventory and what’s available, the popularity is on par with Nassau.
“Our inquiries are tremendous for the outer islands, particularly Eleuthera and Exuma. We’re fielding so many of them, and a lot of them have never been to the country before and are ready to consider doing virtual tours, which is another aspect of COVID-19 and the restrictions.
“They have brought about sales of homes without ever being to the country before, and without seeing the homes in person. People are closing on property consistently across The Bahamas in that format. So you can imagine the desire. They must have to spend, in some cases, millions of dollars on properties that they’ve never seen.”
Mr Knowles said the demand for virtual tours will gradually drop as the COVID-19 pandemic falls away. “It’s nothing like walking into a property yourself, and feeling it and touching it. For us, the great news is that the world is opening back up and restrictions are being eased in places,” he added.
“They’re being lifted. The vaccines can work for the most part and so, you know, there’s no replacement for the real thing about The Bahamas in that some of the most beautiful real estate in the world is right here ,and there is nothing like seeing it for yourself first-hand. We prefer that.”
Ms Waton said properties in Exuma and Eleuthera are benefiting from Instagram, where persons are posting videos of their experiences visiting these islands. Others want to be able to “share in the experiences”.
She explains: “What happens is that it is about people being able to get a great referral. If your friends have had a great time, and you feel like, you know what, that’s somewhere I’m going to check out and go on vacation there.
“They think they need this in their life. They’ve got to have this Bahamas in their life; they’re no longer satisfied. The luxury of this white sand and pink sand and aqua clear waters. They have to have it as a part of themselves. It becomes insatiable.
“I’ve seen that over the years. I know that people have visited Eleuthera and Exuma, the Abacos. They all report about the hospitality that they encounter, the peace that they feel. They just can’t do without it, and then it becomes either many trips to the island,” Ms Waton added.
“Sometimes they go to the same island, or sometimes they go and check out several islands, but then they just have to have it. If they can’t afford to purchase a home, they continue to return. Or, when they feel satisfied that they are ready to semi-retire, they’d like to purchase and then they may start checking out different places themselves and it goes from there.”