Please meet our new teenager – the 13th edition of The Red Book. Teenagers are troublesome and this one is no different. As I sit here writing this introduction in the early part of the first quarter of 2020, COVID-19 is injecting uncertainty into many aspects of the world economy. We used to say that when the UK economy sneezed Barbados got a cold. What we can say now is that when China gets a virus the whole world gets sick!
The statistics covered in this year’s edition show that 2019 was a recovery year (especially the latter half) for luxury real estate in Barbados. We have seen more transactions at ever increasing prices from the bottom of the market. While overall transaction volume was down by 5%, the luxury end of the market outperformed the average. Savvy investors have picked up some bargains in the first half of 2019 and already have profits on paper in the 10 to 20 percent range.
2019 also saw two of the largest projects in Barbados get new owners and more certain futures. Apes Hill is now in the hands of a longtime Canadian investor in Barbados and already his vision is taking shape. Many a homeowner and investor at Apes Hill has let out a big sigh of relief for a more certain future.
The Four Seasons project/site also changed hands in 2019 with the Barbados Government selling to the Morse family who have been longtime investors on the island. While it is still in the early stages we eagerly await their plans for a new hotel and serviced villas project on that wonderful parcel of land.
2019 also saw the Barbados Government unveil its ambitious vision for Carlisle Bay with over 4,000 hotel rooms shown as possibilities at the various sites. While I am sure that not all will come to fruition, some will, resulting in significant investment into the area. The waterfront section of the Pierhead project was also purchased by former Chairman and CEO of Coca Cola and longtime investor in Barbados Neville Isdell and his group. Neville’s ideas and vision for this area as part of the gentrification of Bridgetown are very welcome.
As always, I like to take a look back at our predictions from last year and either confess to being wrong or rejoice in getting a few things right. I am pleased to say that we called this market turn-around right on the money and we are very happy that we were able to work with so many of you who took advantage of the changing market to make investments in property. With Brexit behind us I thought we would have the material uncertainties covered but then the world is faced with COVID-19. It is not clear today what impact it will have on Barbados but in the words of a recent speaker on Bloomberg TV “the travel industry will be decimated”. This is very worrying for Barbados as a large part of our GDP relies on a robust travel industry including nearly 1 million long stay visitors and a further 1 million cruise passengers per year. Luckily we are heading into the slowest part of the year from May to November and I do hope that we will get through this crisis so we can return to the growth path.
I hope that you enjoy the insights from our team who have written on various real estate related subjects. I hope you will agree that the content is continuing to mature, and the insights and analysis offered gets more robust each year. Please also take the time to look at the market data that we have provided and if you need some more information or some help in determining appropriate actions do not hesitate to call on any of our great staff and partners.
Our mission is simply to provide you with the best information we can in a comfortable environment to assist you in making a decision.