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Property market soft, says Hutton

Over $2 billion in beachfront property, including villas and apartments, sits on the west coast awaiting buyers.

Chief Operating Officer of Terra Caribbean Hayden Hutton revealed today that the approximately US$1.15 billion in property up for sale but for which buyers have been difficult to find was a clear indication that the property market is soft.   

The average price of a villa on the west is US$10.5 million, apartments cost US$3.1 million, while “every piece of land” goes for US$4.9 million, Hutton said at the launch of the company’s 2016 Red Book, a review of real estate available in Barbados.

He did not say whether prices were falling or had remained the same. However, Hutton’s colleague, Chief Executive Officer of Terra Caribbean Andrew Mallalieu told journalists that the struggling economy had taken a toll on business.

“We are living in challenging economic times. We have seen the decline in the volume of transactions; we have seen the decline in the index of land sales and we have seen an increase in the supply of apartments, condominiums and villas on the beachfront of the west coast. These are the trends we see in the market. There is [also] a decline in the stock on the south coast,” Mallalieu said at today’s Red Book launch at the company’s offices at Worthing, Christ Church.

Questioning Central Bank reports that there had been signs of economic growth in recent times, the realtor argued that he was yet to see the growth reflected in transactions in the sector.

“We are seeing increases in supply, a decline in the number of transactions and a fall in the price of properties that are on the market,” Mallalieu stressed.

Despite these challenges, the Terra Caribbean CEO indicated that Barbados remained a destination of choice for some of the world’s wealthiest persons.

He revealed that as many as 15 of the world’s richest persons owned property here.

“I have heard it said that when you are a wealthy family no matter where you were born, your second home would probably be in London and your third home would probably be in Barbados. That is an interesting thought and I have heard that among many of our clients. No matter where you are from, whether you are from India, Japan or China, you gravitate towards London, New York may be at some point in time, but Barbados ranks above that country.

“It is interesting that of the top 50 wealthiest people in the world, ten to 15 of them have property in Barbados,” he said.

Mallalieu told reporters that high-priced homes were seen as the “sexy part of the industry” but it must be recognized that their owners contributed significantly to the island’s treasury and charitable causes.

“A home that carries a multi-million dollar price tag will probably employ about 15 to 20 persons full time. No money is taken out of the economy and the foreign exchange passes through the Central Bank and is converted to Barbadian currency. “These are tangible things we can see, but the other part we do not see and we should embrace and value a lot more is the significant charitable work these very wealthy people do when they are in Barbados. We owe them a great debt,” Mallalieu maintained.  

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