Talking Development in Eleuthera

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After suffering seriously during the downturn, the Caribbean real estate market seems to be picking up steam. That’s true on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, where a new project called French Leave Harbour Village has already completed several units. To learn more about what’s going on in Eleuthera and the Bahamas, CJ talked to Eddie Lauth, CEO of Shaner Bahamas, which is developing French Leave Harbour Village, a 37-unit project that the company says is the first group of “authentic” cottages to be developed on Governor’s Harbour since the 1940s.

What kind of development activity are you seeing right now in Eleuthera?

Eleuthera is experiencing a lot of activity right now from various developments that have either started during the new cycle or picked up where they left off in the last real estate cycle. Currently we are constructing French Leave Harbour Village and already have the first three authentic Bahamaian hotel cottages of sixteen in total for the Phase 1 now substantially completed.
Other developments that have relaunched include Buttonwood Reserve overlooking the Exuma Sound as well as The Cove in North Eleuthera and Cotton Bay Club in South Eleuthera.

How much of the activity is from resorts versus real estate? Or is it a combination of both?

It’s safe to say that it’s a combination of both. A lot of developments are utilizing the Hotel Encouragement Act, which allows for some developments to be considered hotel and real estate given that certain standards are in place.

What’s been driving that?

The Bahamas has been feeling the ripple effect of the global real estate market, especially from South Florida due to its proximity.  Travelers, second- and third- homebuyers are seeing a unique experience in the Bahamas and not just a “mass market” experience.  They can clearly find that authentic Bahamian experience in Eleuthera. Development has spurred to provide buyers and travelers with just that.

Would you say the activity is at a different level than the rest of the Bahamas?

Not really. Nassau/Cable Beach right now is booming with development given the new Baha Mar project ($3.5 billion) however, the trickle-down effect means two new airport terminals for both International travelers and domestic travelers. This makes it easier for all to travel to the Bahamas.

How is development different now than during the early parts of the downturn? How does it compare to pre-2008 levels?

There has been a shift from quantity to quality buyers.  We have seen an increase in buyers that are purchasing higher-end residences.  These buyers are more seasoned and more interested in the scale of our project and its unique offering.  We are offering the “Real Bahamas” and a laid-back lifestyle that revolves around the omnipresent turquoise sea and pink sandy beaches.

What are you seeing from a real estate perspective? Who are the buyers driving the market?

Most prospective buyers are from South Florida, the Northeastern part of the US, UK and Canada, in that order. These buyers are looking for second or third homes and want to find a destination that promotes a lifestyle of relaxation.  Our development caters to this desire by not only providing every bungalow fully furnished and with Bahamian architecture but we have also implemented a selling program that bundles all costs associated with the purchase into the total price. This program covers closing, title insurance, legal and financing costs.  There is also a cash discount for buyers paying the entire amount in cash.

What’s your outlook for the next year or so?

Very positive.

— CJ

 

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