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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On this page you should find information and links to important information you will need to know about buying a home or commercial property in the Cayman Islands.
2023 The Year in Review
Let's start with the most frequently asked questions in 2023, “Is the market going to correct itself?" and, "Will prices mirror markets abroad?” The reality is that while many US and Canadian towns experienced a retraction in transactions and a reduction in average property sale prices, Cayman did not. Cayman’s real estate was, as ever, a seller’s market – inventories are low and new inventory is not coming fast enough to quell the demand. Inflation and high interest rates (8.5% for mortgages) have tremendously affected non-cash buyers. Still, even mortgage-seekers know how hard it is to find a home that ticks all the boxes, so the number of locals buying properties cooled.
Demand for housing in 2023 has come from new residents moving to Cayman. We estimate that approximately 13 new residents move to Cayman a day. They are primarily moving here to work in family offices, banks and in legal services, but many are also coming to work in construction – there are four hotels either being built or about to be built, plus everywhere you look, new apartments and houses are going up. There are also the traditional vacation home buyers who, having visited as tourists, fell in love with Cayman and bought property.
Unresolved traffic woes have also fuelled demand for more centrally-located properties that are closer to work and schools, and as a result, prices in George Town, Seven Mile Beach, the Seven Mile Corridor, South Sound and West Bay have never decreased. Members of Parliament debated the construction of an East-West arterial road, that would go through the central wetlands area, with a view that the road would alleviate traffic for residents of the Eastern Districts. The reality is that the proposed road still leads to a bottleneck created by Cayman’s geography – the Grand Harbour roundabout is the depository of all roads taking residents living in the Eastern districts west. It is estimated that by 2035, 50,000 cars per day will pass through this roundabout, and unless they remove it, put in traffic lights and turn the road back into a highway, the two-hour commute will continue or most likely get worse.
Due to the traffic problems, some homeowners have traded larger homes for smaller ones in more centrally-located areas, while others with high mortgage costs have sold their property and are renting. The ultimate winner is the rental market, as properties are snapped up within hours of coming onto the market and prices have risen exponentially. One of the aggravating factors has been the huge delay in new builds being given their Certificate of Occupancy (CO). Cayman has incredibly strict planning laws and every stage of the build must be inspected and signed off by the Planning Department. With only a handful of inspectors and so many properties to inspect, the process of getting a CO once the property is completely finished is taking more than six months. Without this document, no electricity can be turned on, so people cannot move in, which has also fuelled the rental market. There's no wonder renting a great property has become so difficult for all involved.
Worth mentioning is the high volume of website traffic and inquiries seen by real estate companies and by CIREBA, demonstrating the allure of the Cayman Islands. In the record-breaking year of 2021, CI$1 billion in sales volume was registered, so a reduction was organically expected for the following years. 2022 closed with an 11% sales volume reduction, but with a 17.7% transactions reduction over 2021 numbers – living proof that prices increased. 2021’s average new listing price was 37% higher than 2020 and 2022’s was 19.8% higher than 2021.
According to the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA), there were 381 sales in the first six months of 2023, compared with 549 sales in the same period of 2022, with a 44% reduction in condo sales and a 23% drop in single-family home sales. Also, on average, the listings were 18% more expensive in 2023 than they were in 2022. Mid-2023 saw the average price for residential homes 20.2% higher than mid-2022’s average price.
From the collation of 2023 numbers available so far, indications are a decrease in the volume of transactions, but not the value of properties, which continue to increase. The reality is that without mountains, the number of properties that can offer an ocean view is limited; people that live on an island have the desire to be as close to the ocean as possible, so as a result, oceanfront property prices do not fall. This was evident at the start of the year, as the value of CIREBA’s active listings was the highest in CIREBA’s history. As of June 2023, the total value of 1,600 active listings was over CI$3.355 billion, while at the same point in 2022, 1,555 listings were listed at CI$2.766 billion.
It all seemed like pretty good news, but by the time 2023 closed out, listings for the year were 3% less than 2022, total value sold was 13% down on 2022, (but still close to a whopping $900m), and the total amount of residential properties sold in 2023 were 26% down on the year before. So all in all, there was a definite cooling in the market, which was inevitable, after Cayman's real estate boom that occurred during the pandemic. With the meteoric rise in interest rates starting in late 2022, none of this came as a surprise to property market watchers.
In related interest rate news, the Cayman Islands Government has also put pressure on local banks to review their mortgage rates, but this political dispute was still unfolding by Q3 2023, with banks initially refraining from accepting any directives as they secure their lending against the US dollar and follow the US Fed rates policies. Predictions show that interest rates will reduce in mid to late 2024, but this is unlikely to make a meaningful impact to non-cash buyers until well into 2025/2026.
What's next for the market in 2024?
After a seasonal summer lull and winter dip, which is typical, and aided this time by global economic tides which quell peaks in Cayman's market but don't materially change it, there is a somewhat speculative approach to Cayman's property landscape in early 2024. CIREBA currently has over 1500+ properties listed for sale at the moment.
While lending rates might not dive dramatically in the next year, they remain comfortably anchored compared to historical highs. This stability, with projected year-end rates hovering around 7.5%, signals a resilient market weathering external storms. It's a case of watch, wait and consider safety first.
That being said, luxury condos and villas continue to dance to the tune of international demand and limited inventory, maintaining their unwavering allure within in that bracket and listed on CIREBA for several millions of dollars. Even with that price tag, they are all too tempting for cash buyers and as result, they form a consistently robust sector of the market, and one that will always have the ability to part a high net-worth client from their moolah. At the same time, as one moves down the ladder just one step to mid-level homes, interest rates are still going to dictate how much potential buyers are prepared to borrow to make their dreams come true.
The Cayman Islands' inherent attraction – from its enviable lifestyle and investment opportunities to its tax neutrality and thriving job market – continues to draw individuals and businesses. And, coupled with the Islands' removal from the internationally-recognised anti-money laundering 'Grey List' late in 2023, foreign investors will have more confidence in the safety of potential future investments here. Not that they weren't safe before, but appearances are everything. However, a sticking point comes between increasing demand and the sluggish pace of new housing development. The absence of a national development plan and bureaucratic hurdles in planning approvals are contributing to a decline in new listings and overall inventory levels. Although, for those in favour of slowing things down before Cayman becomes over-developed, with infrastructure sorely lacking to service the needs of current residents let alone future ones, this is a good thing.
Finally, in a bid to stir up Cayman's real estate market, ten independent brokers have banded together to form the Cayman Islands Realtors Organisation (CIRO). This new association aims to inject healthy competition into the commission structure, often shrouded in price-fixing concerns. While collaboration on ethics, training, and a multi-listing system is on the agenda, CIRO vows to keep commission rates off the table, potentially paving the way for a more dynamic and transparent real estate landscape in the Islands.
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
According to Claudia Subiotto from Team Bovell, while there are only a few hundred single-family home property sales in Cayman each year, 74 had been sold by the end of June 2023 for an average value of CI$1,566,000, which was 96% of the asking price. The average length of time to sell a single-family home was 208 days, versus 307 days for a condo. Again, there was an upward trend in the value of the property sales, and this increase has spilled over to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. By July 1st 2023, there were 176 single-family homes for sale in Grand Cayman, with an average listing price of CI$3,947,000.
For homes that are part of a strata, there were 21 listed for sale for an average of CI$1,654,000, while there were 43 semi-detached homes listed for an average price of CI$1,278,000. In Savannah, the average sale price in 2023 was US$557 per square foot (psf) for canal front properties, US$402 psf for land-locked homes, but as low as US$358 psf for pre-construction homes. In West Bay, the average sale price for condos was US$705 psf, while homes varied from as low as US$172 to US$398 psf. West Bay saw an incredibly high number of new developments being built in 2022, many selling at attractive pre-construction prices, so there were less sales in the first half of 2023 due to this.
Condominiums & Apartments
At the beginning of July 2023, there were 916 condos listed for sale on CIREBA and 157 condos had sold, with an average of 96% of the asking price. When considering the market for condominiums in the Cayman Islands, it is often worth noting that there are two main sectors; condos located on Seven Mile Beach, which are often bought by overseas residents and are usually for 'daily rental' investment purposes, and others which are often inland apartments and townhouses.
As our 'New Developments' section shows, there is an ever-growing inventory of new condos. In addition, the appreciation seen on SMB has been continuous, and older properties with great beach frontage have benefitted the most. These have been prime material for redevelopment, benefitting from the Planning Department's decision to now allow building heights up to 10 floors on Seven Mile Beach. A case in point is the Lacovia units that used to sell for US$1,200,000 back in 2019, but the prices jumped to US$3.6 million when the redevelopment was unanimously approved by the strata members. When prices went under contract in 2022 and 2023, the lowest price was US$5,500,000 and the highest was US$30 million (for the penthouse). Prices on SMB vary depending on square footage, floor level and the view.
Inland apartment complexes with 2 to 3-bedroom units have also seen a steady increase in price. These units are usually acquired for owner-occupation or for long-term rental income. The Retreats (Garden, Coco and Sunset) in George Town are a good indicator of how prices have risen between 2022 and 2023. Of the three property sales, the average price of a 2-bedroom unit sold in 2022 was CI$424,000 (which was 16% above 2021 prices and an 84% increase on average prices in 2015). Only one unit was listed for sale in July 2023 for CI$525,000, which, if sold for the asking price, would have been a 19.3% increase over 2022 prices.
With the growth of the population and businesses, the need for storage spaces has skyrocketed and many parcels of land have been sold for the sole purpose of building warehouses. In early July 2023, a parcel of land was sold in a matter of hours in a full cash transaction—such is the demand for warehousing. A parcel of land with approved plans sold for CI$49.12 psf and by July 1st 2023, there were 19 warehouse units listed on that land with an asking price averaging CI$445.60 psf. Warehouse prices vary considerably depending on the presence of an automatic door, air conditioning, use of the space above head height, a toilet, security, its elevation and whether it is located on an area that floods. Multi-storage warehouse complexes were being offered for sale in July 2023 for an average price of CI$2,219,000. Popular areas for warehouses are central George Town – especially near the airport – and near the centre of Seven Mile Beach.