This past year a significant increase in Brits and Boomers bought Caribbean real estate!

An interesting phenomenon has occured in the 2007 real estate activity in the Caribbean. There was a BIG increase in the real estate sales of full ownership and deeded fractional ownership from Brits and Boomers! The two geographic focuses of these groups were the British Crown Colonies for the Brits – The Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, the BVI, Montserrat and the Cayman Islands. And the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Boomers. There are several factors that drove the increase in purchases from these two groups in 2007.

The Brits Top Choices In 2007: The Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, the BVI, and the Cayman Islands (Monterrat is still in a recovery mode because of the devastation of the eruption of the volcano several years ago. It is still a very challenging place to live given this sad event.)

  • The value of the British pound creating an increased buying power for any economy with the U.S. dollar as their currency.
  • An expansion of the Brits’ vision for places outside of England to live part-time or full-time that are considered safe, a tax-favored environment for banking and insurance, unforgettable tropical experiences, wonderful local citizens, and a tranquil quality of life.
  • The ease for them to manage through the banking and finance hurdles which are effortless for them when making a purchase in a British Crown Colony.

And, as Suzie Egan, our dear friend from England, mentioned to me today, “I have never seen such an attitude among the citizens of my country of the need in finding a safe haven to live other than the British Isles.” Actually, her comments were a surprise for me to hear. I have more “detective work” to do in order to fully understand her statement.

The Boomers Top Choices In 2007: U.S. Virgin Islands – St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.

  • They are concerned about their buying power with the U.S. dollar, so they are typically staying with U.S. Territories for their foreign purchases. It is odd for me to think that most of this group wants to have a tropical experience without the thought of dealing with some of the peculiar aspects of a foreign country. It is like going to Hawaii for them, but they feel as if they are out of the country. (This is a small editorial comment on my part.)
  • A very large portion of this group has lots of money. In 2007 over 42% of their Caribbean purchases were ALL cash!
  • The deeded fractional ownership markets are focused in the United States resort communities of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the high end U.S. ski resorts, and Hawaii. The major players are Marriott/Ritz Carlton, and Starwood Resorts. (A key factor hindering the deeded fractional ownership markets in the non-U.S. Territories in the Caribbean is the way ownership of land is structured for non-citizens of the individual countries or Crown Colonies.)
  • The safety and infrastructure regulations required by a U.S. Territory compared to the varied infrastructure regulations throughout the rest of the Caribbean seems to set their minds at ease. The Boomers want to get off the plane or boat and not have to think about what they eat or drink.

There are three other populations that have increased their sales and focus in the Caribbean – Europeans, Canadians, and several of the South American countries. Stay tuned! I am sure you can imagine that I have some opinions as why this is also occurring. The Caribbean is where the action is for 2008 real estate sales! Until next time, your Caribbean lifestyle detective is on duty.

Article authored by Jim Walberg of The Bay Area Team. Visit their Caribbean Islands Realty blog for more information and to read the original post.

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