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).
Their purpose, as a not-for-profit organisation, was to try to regularise the industry for the benefit of buyers, sellers, and realtors. They created a hybrid of the US and Canadian real estate systems of that time, added a sprinkling of the most acceptable Cayman market norms of the day, and wrapped it all in British Law. Not only did that lead to the Caribbean’s first MLS system, but also to a 3-part course of study for brokers and agents, including entry level testing and continuing education, a required code of ethics and comprehensive set of rules and regulations with penalties for noncompliance. In short, CIREBA became the gold standard for the Cayman real estate industry and eventually its quasi-regulatory body. This meant the industry did not have to be regulated by Government, which has been a bonus for all concerned.
To say that CIREBA was a significant contributor to what the Cayman real estate industry is today would be a gross understatement; there is no way our industry could have ever approached its current levels without CIREBA. There is still nothing close to it anywhere in the Caribbean – although it has been copied elsewhere (often with help from CIREBA).
Currently there are 37 broker member companies with over 250 agents and they make up the vast majority of all Island practitioners (although there are a few outliers as membership is not compulsory). These brokers share their property listings in an online Multiple Listing System and they work together on real estate transactions which allows buyers to see all the properties and still work with their single favourite agent. It also allows sellers to get the widest possible exposure for their properties. The association works closely with the Cayman Government on any issues relating to the real estate business to ensure a good experience for all involved.