A number of islands in the Caribbean are seeing significant property market growth, but Barbados definitely stands out from the crowd. A recent report from Knight Frank underlines this fact neatly, showing that last year saw a 15% increase in sales on the island.
According to Knight Frank International Residential Research's Kate Everett-Allen, "2013 market a watershed for several markets with Barbados and the Bahamas in particular seeing sales volume increase." This represents a significant recovery after 2007-2008, where significant drops were recorded in the island's property market. In their report, Knight Frank recognizes a particular turnaround in the prime market, and cites buyer confidence as a key reason for the recovery.
The most popular properties were those ranging in price from US$1 million to US$3 million (between £590,653 and £1,771,960), particularly villas and detached houses. Last year also saw strong sales of luxury properties, including rumors of one property fetching US$40 million (just under £8.27 million).
The closest rival to Barbados in the region is seen in the Virgin Islands, where an increase of 10% was observed. This figure is based on data relating to online searches and inquiries from buyers. A number of other islands also saw significant increases in activity, but none that came close to the levels of sales growth seen in Barbados.
Knight Frank are not alone in noticing the turnaround of Barbados' property market. Chesterton's Barbados Chairman Kieran Kelly says that the company's sales "have increased by 250% versus this time last year." He adds that "Barbados is technically in our 'summer slow season,' however we have never been busier."
Kelly names the current strength of the pound when compared to the dollar as one key factor in the growth of interest in property in Barbados. This results in an effective price drop for buyers using sterling, as they find themselves getting more dollars for each pound. For example, Kelly says: "We are selling a three bedroom luxury home on the prestigious Royal Westmoreland golf estate for US$ 599,000. 12 months ago this was GBP 405,000 and at today’s exchange rate it is GBP 352,000, which is an attractive saving of GBP 53,000."
P1 Communications' Vicky Goodall points out further reasons for Barbados' attractiveness to buyers. "Accessibility is good," she points out, "with daily flights with British Airways and Virgin and has have been boosted recently by new flights with Thomas Cook from Manchester." Combined with the strong position of the pound and the strong links that come from Barbados' status as a commonwealth country, this makes it little wonder that the British are taking an interest. In fact, the British are the most prominent group of overseas buyers in Barbados' property market.
On top of this, Goodall points to the attractiveness of Barbados' recent introduction of residency permits. This means that buyers of high-value properties on the island are able to stay there for long periods of time with minimal hassle. This is to say nothing of the excellent infrastructure and range of amenities that Barbados has, including fine dining and golf courses.