Demand for Caribbean Private Island Real Estate Is Surging
By Alexander Britell
Over the last few months, Robert Greenwood has gotten hundreds of calls from clients in the United States.
They’ve called from country estates, from $10 million penthouses in New York City.
And they’ve all wanted the same thing: to be somewhere else.
The pandemic has led to a dramatic shift in the way many high-tier real estate buyers think, and, increasingly, they’re looking for one thing: the private-island lifestyle, according to Greenwood, Director & Senior Broker at Regency-Christie’s International Real Estate in Turks and Caicos.
“Our clients see that this might not be the last we see of such pandemics and are preparing for further issues in the future, and want to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Greenwood told Caribbean Journal Invest.
And it’s not just phone calls — one of the private islands in Turks and Caicos has “just gone to contract, doing so during the height of this pandemic,” Greenwood said. “I am sure the developers understand that this crisis will pass, and when it does, the demand will be extremely high.”
And it’s not just in Turks and Caicos.
“There has been a noticeable uptick in the private island market,” says Gavin Christie, managing director of CA Christie Real Estate in The Bahamas, which has more private islands for sale than anywhere else in the wider Caribbean region. “The interest has increased, and potential buyers are starting to do their due diligence on what’s available for sale or rent.”
Christie says potential private island buyers have been on the fence “for a while,” and the pandemic has now created an urgency for them.
That’s because the world has changed.
“Social distancing is the new luxury,” Christie said in a recent Webinar in partnership with Selling the Caribbean.
“Remote living is back,” he said. “Those who live in big metropolitan cities are going to want to get out, or at minimum have the possibility to retreat to a private island, remote or off-the-grid property in the event there is another global pandemic.”
And there are practical reasons. Thanks to connectivity that’s easier to turn off, smaller-scale populations and other factors, the Caribbean is naturally more resilient, Greenwood said.
And that’s even more true on private islands or private-island communities.
Because there are two kinds of private island purchases to think about: more “empty” private islands, where the buyer will need to create infrastructure, develop homes and the lik.
And then there are private-island communities like Parrot Cay, where the infrastructure already exists and you’re sharing the island with a very small, very select clientele. Often, that also means you’re getting resort amenities to boot.
“Private Islands are the polar opposite, offering social distancing through the simple nature of the Private Island lifestyle,” Greenwood said. “Private islands, and Caribbean islands in general, are able to quickly close their borders by shutting down their airports, as we had done in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This instantly stops the importation of any of our guests our tourists who have the virus. I almost compare it to a castle with a mote, one the drawbridge has been raised, there’s no way in, keeping everyone in the castle safe from anything from the outside world.”
And the interest seems likely to increase, Greenwood said, particularly in Turks and Caicos, which has a number of “turn-key” private islands, from the new Ambergris Cay to the aforementioned Parrot Cay.
“We’ve had a lot of organic inquiries from those that may have not considered Private Islands before, but now see it as not just a lifestyle, but a necessity for them and their loved ones.”