With a stable economy, high standard of living and beautiful environment, the Cayman Islands is also an ideal place for you to own property.
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For another year running the Cayman property market is thriving, despite a lack of properties for sale which has been reflected in the 12.5% decrease in the number of MLS Real Estate sales so far this year (July 2019). The overall value of those transactions, however, rose by 9%. Due to the lack of sales the average sale price for 2019 is approximately 25% higher than 2018, but the price increases may also be slowing the market a bit. On the supply side there is a 2% decrease in the number of listed units over last year, and the value of all the listed properties in the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA) is down about 8% to US$1.66 billion.
The Cayman Property Review
The Cayman Property Review, an independent property survey conducted by Charterland, a chartered surveying company based in the Cayman Islands which reports that the total number of open market transfers registered with the Cayman Islands Land Registry.
Although Cayman was not spared form the direct effects of the global financial recession of 2008, 10 years later Cayman now finds itself in a property boom. 2019 saw a 9% increase in market transfers over 2018 and a 17.8% increase in total value of transfers. In fact, the total value of sales in 2018 was over CI$800 million, which is the highest total value for sales in one year on record giving property owners much to feel confident about (Source: Charterland).
The real estate market in Cayman is simple and straightforward. Apart from a one-time stamp duty, there are no annual property taxes or restrictions on foreign ownership by individuals and title is granted and guaranteed by the Cayman Islands Government.
Back in the day (pre-1980) Cayman’s real estate market could best be described as the Wild West. There were no real estate laws, no safeguards, and no consistency of business practices except that it was every man for himself. In 1987 a group of local realtors agreed to work together and founded the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA)Read More
With no property taxes, owning land in Cayman is a solid and hassle free investment. You can build when you are ready, or sell the land for a profit when it is convenient or necessary.
With the real estate market being so strong, and current inventory being in short supply, it is no surprise that developers are taking this opportunity to replenish the marketplace.
Single Family Homes
The homes currently on the market can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes, locations and at prices ranging from a cottage in Cayman Brac at US$130,000 to a palace on Grand Cayman at US$39,950,000! Last year home sales were still sluggish, but in 2019, when the lure of some of the fine homes which were on the market was finally too much to resist, prices rose 28% for exactly the same number of homes sold. The overall residential market is now so strong that reselling has actually paid off for any who have had to move.
Condominiums & Apartments
A wide selection of condos, apartments and townhouses are for sale across the three Islands and consideration should be given to make sure your new condo home is ‘fit for purpose’.
Read the Strata By-Laws to ensure they meet your family requirements and review strata or condominium fees to determine if any assessments are pending and whether insurance payments have been factored in.
With regard to real estate sales, the number of condominium transactions was down 13% due mainly to lack of supply, and the price increases couldn’t quite compensate as condo sales revenue was also down by 2%. On SMB, developments like Agua and Seacreast condos are now under construction, but all sold out. Watermark has not yet begun but is 73% sold out. The proposed Hyatt Condo/Hotel for Pageant Beach is quoting 35% sold and scheduled to break ground in fall 2019. The Lacovia redevelopment will commence September 2020 and they are quoting 65% sold. There are many others not on SMB with totals showing over 1,000 projected new units. However anticipated sales numbers can be misleading as these are often refundable ‘reservation deposits’ which are subject to some natural fallout during the formal contract process, or some marketed developments may not have funding locked in yet, and may never be built. Talk to someone who is not representing the developer to get a better feel for the likelihood of a certain project. One question you should ask is: does the location match the style and price point of the project? If not, the odds are long.
SMB has led the way with price records being set in new projects. Cayman began to come out of the recession in 2015, so we have had a 3.5 year run which has led to new record price levels. Lack of supply of existing units has led to both higher prices and fewer sales in the past 12 months. The value of the average condo sold in the MLS by CIREBA firms rose by 13% in 2019 YTD (as of July 2019).
Condos will always be in greater demand than other residential options in a resort location like Cayman where we have a lot of short-term visitors. However the longer you expect to stay in Cayman, the less this living style will fit. Many condos are designed for short term stays both in their physical location and in their by-laws, while others are designed and built for longer term stays. Very few manage to keep both types of purchasers happy for long, so make sure you know which you are getting before you buy. 2019 condo listings currently range from US$158,000 for a 1 bed inland unit in West Bay to US$7.8M for a 4 bed beachfront unit on Seven Mile Beach at Watermark. There are a whopping 581 units for sale, but the majority are pre-construction units and most are not on Seven Mile. Many are also inland developments. Existing units are only coming on the market if the pricing will allow sellers to realise a profit. Nobody really wants to sell their Cayman property, but sometimes the appreciation just gets the best of them; that, and maybe a change of living circumstances (age, divorce, downsizing, etc.).