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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During the first eight months of 2021, Cayman’s real estate sector was as active as it has ever been. Government initiatives like the Global Citizen Concierge programme (designed to attract digital nomads and their families), and the granting of Residency rights through real estate investments allowed qualifying individuals to relocate to the Cayman Islands with minimal red tape.
These attractions sustained international investment interest, despite ongoing border closures, and sales continued to go ahead ‘sight unseen’ or via Zoom viewings. If that was not enough to catapult market values towards exponential growth, the lockdown period of 2020 inspired some locals to review their lifestyles and upgrade to homes with more office space or outdoor living area; while other homeowners, especially those at the very high end, benefitted from realtors who were eager to make a match, knocking on their doors and proposing a price!
However, this past year also shone a spotlight on the negative impacts of Cayman’s open housing market. A high demand for properties combined with a dwindling inventory has drastically inflated prices. Entry-level homes presently start at around CI$300,000, with many banks requiring a down payment of at least 10% – and this doesn’t account for additional administration fees! Many young Caymanians or lower-income families are finding themselves priced out of the market and unable to compete with high-net-worth bidders from overseas who are prepared to pay upfront. While stamp-duty is waived for first time Caymanian buyers, there are increasingly few properties available on the market below the qualifying price point. The Government has proposed further concessions to mitigate these issues, however, industry experts argue that certain solutions, such as placing restrictions on foreign investments, could instead discourage necessary development and destabilise the economy. Although the current real estate climate is great news for sellers, home ownership is an important part of future social stability, and we hope 2022 brings further partnership between private developers and the Government as they seek more sustainable and effective development solutions.
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
While the number of available properties on Island has been steadily dropping by an average of 15% per year and there was a notable decrease in the number of sales recorded during the first wave of the pandemic, 2021 witnessed a huge increase in the number of singlefamily home sales, 18% higher than even the pre-pandmic figures in 2019.
The average sales price was also 53% higher in 2021 than in 2020! Presently, a 2-bedroom cottage in Cayman Brac goes for US$205,000 and a South Sound waterfront palace in Grand Cayman goes for US$49,950,000 (September 2021)!
Condominiums & Apartments
Condos will always be in greater demand than other residential options in a resort location like Cayman. According to CIREBA records, there were 471 condos available for sale across Cayman, as of August 2021, the majority of which were either pre-construction units or in-land developments. A whopping 97% more condos were sold in the first half of 2021 vs 2020. Presently, a 1-bed unit in West Bay goes for CI$305,000, while a 4-bed on Seven Mile Beach at the Watermark is priced between CI$8-10 million.
However, you should keep in mind the longer you expect to stay in Cayman, the less this lifestyle will fit, as many condos are designed for short-term stays both in their physical designs and in their by-laws. Before making a purchase, read the Strata By-Laws to ensure they meet your personal requirements and review strata or condominium fees to determine if any assessments are pending and whether insurance payments have been factored in.
It is also worth noting that many of the Island’s new-builds are trending towards smaller unit sizes with equally, if not higher price-points, depending on the area. 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 appreciation makes a sale logical. A change of living circumstances (age, divorce, downsizing, etc.) can also incentivise the sale of a cherished property. Many property owners in the SMB area live abroad and rent their units out for the majority of the year.