Saint Lucia still a buyer’s market
If you are looking to purchase property in Saint Lucia, now is the time. That’s the message from the island’s realtors who say it’s a buyer’s market and predict slow but steady growth going forward.
Now, however, Saint Lucia’s property portfolio is seeing movement, especially in its mid-level inventory, leading many realtors to express optimism about the market’s future.
Saint Lucia is the second fastest growing tourism destination in the region, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Visitor arrivals grew by 14.5 per cent between January and August last year and officials expect the numbers will continue to rise.
Given that many buyers start out as visitors, a booming tourism industry is good news for realtors. Newcomers to the island often arrive for a short vacation, expecting to spend a few weeks on a sun lounger and move on. Instead they fall in love with the country’s charms – its beautiful, tropical environment and warm, welcoming atmosphere. For these tourists, a few weeks a year in paradise is not enough.
David Farrin, Managing Director at Doubloon Real Estate, says the growth in visitor numbers is very encouraging: “The more people that come to the island, the more people that fall in love with the island. And the more people that fall in love with the island, the more people who want to buy.”
And he should know – Farrin first arrived in Saint Lucia over a decade ago, intending to stay just a few months. He has now been a resident and realtor for 15 years,” Farrin says that there is interest emerging around the US$500,000 price point. “This is the best it has been in several years. We’re seeing growth around the $500,000 market; it is quite active at that price range.”
Doubloon’s portfolio includes a large number of properties around the US$400,000 to US$500,000 price range. With many properties close to Rodney Bay – a popular area for home-hunters thanks to its proliferation of bars, restaurants and shops, as well as its proximity to the beautiful Reduit Beach.
Farrin, who deals primarily with buyers from the UK, Canada and America, says most property-hunters are looking for a second home – either to rent out or to enjoy themselves throughout the year. “There is a generation of 40- to 50-year-olds coming through now who have more leisure time and want to invest in a second home. They want a place they can lock up, go away and then come back to when they want. Properties in Saint Lucia fit that bill. Saint Lucia does not disappoint. People are friendly and helpful and it is a very beautiful island.”
From the very first phone call to the sale’s completion, Farrin says it can take up to six months for a foreign buyer to acquire property. Foreign investors must obtain an Alien’s Landholding License which can slow down the process. “The time it takes varies dramatically [and] buyers can get very frustrated,” says Farrin. “The legal system is pretty straightforward; there is nothing to be wary of but it is time-consuming.”
Time-consuming but worth it. Most foreign buyers love life in Saint Lucia and become committed members of the island community. Farrin says he’s had very positive feedback from buyers throughout his career, with the most satisfied customers becoming friends.
Post Courtesy of The Star St Lucia.