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Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles Last Updated: Feb 25, 2020 - 3:46:42 PM
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Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question... - Oct 19, 2011 - 1:29:18 PM

“TO BE OR NOT TO BE” is the opening line from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet written in 1600. If Shakespeare was a Real Estate Agent in Freeport he might ask the question  TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY  that is the question. Many people have asked themselves this question especially in these uncertain economic times. While each option of renting or owning has its benefits, the decision to purchase a duplex, condominium or house as opposed to renting, is complex and based on a number of factors. Nearly everyone believes buying a home today is a good financial decision. The question that remains is whether or not NOW is the right time to purchase a home for YOU!

For most people, deciding to purchase a home is the largest financial decision...

Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Is the sky falling or is it time to invest? - Oct 13, 2011 - 8:19:39 AM

There is a classic children’s story about Chicken Little—a character who is hit on the head by an acorn and proceeds to run with his friend Ducky Lucky and others to tell the King that “the sky is falling… the sky is falling!”
If you talk to people around Freeport, or listen to the daily onslaught of mainstream news, you probably agree with Chicken Little that the sky is falling when it comes to our economy.  If asked about real estate prices on Grand Bahama, Chicken Little would tell you that “the Sky is Falling”, and everyone’s house prices are falling so don’t sell or don’t buy. We have many Chicken Little messengers on the island that think Grand Bahama will never get out of its current slump, and that the housing market will never recover—nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s another way to look at it...
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Real Estate Advice in These Difficult Times - Oct 5, 2011 - 6:50:12 PM

I have been a Real Estate Broker on Grand Bahama Island for over 10 years and as a Broker the number one question  that people ask me is what is the future Of Real Estate on the island. No one has a Crystal Ball that can see the future exactly but with the current state of the economy there are many factors that give us an indication of  the Future of Real Estate on Grand Bahama Island.  

An important point to keep in mind is that it is very difficult to make broad statements about the state of the Grand Bahama Real Estate because there are many different Real Estate Markets on the Island. There is a big difference between raw land, lower income homes, high end beach front homes, condos and duplexes.  No one would ask you how the weather is in the United States because that’s too general...

Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
The Closing - Jun 14, 2010 - 11:47:45 AM

Famous writer/broadcaster Dan Cook coined the phrase “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. He was talking about the 1977-78 National Basketball Playoffs but he could have been  talking about closing a real estate deal in the Bahamas because as many of you know “ it ain’t over till its over”! Take it from me, after being in the business for many years I have seen many strange things happen at the end of a deal that have caused deals to fall part.  So my advice to you as a buyer or seller is to work closely with your lawyer and real estate agent to make sure that EVERYTHING is in order for the “closing”

“Closing” is the final stage of the Real Estate process and occurs when the lawyers exchange money and the buyer and seller sign the Conveyance to close or conclude the deal.   The buyer and seller are not always at a closing table in the Bahamas, but the closing occurs at the very end of the deal when ...

Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
If Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln sold Houses - Mar 4, 2010 - 10:32:21 AM

As the 16th President of the United States  Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln said “Honesty is the Best Policy”.  If “Honest Abe” lived on Grand Bahama Island, and was a BREA (Bahamas Real Estate Association) real estate agent he would have insisted that owners disclose any problems of a house that is listed for sale.  Let’s say that you just listed your beautiful home in Bahamia for sale, and you withheld a few “little” problems from your real estate agent – the roof leaks, but only when it rains; the outlet in the back bedroom won’t spark unless something is plugged in; and there is a stain on the hardwood floors in the living room that is covered up by a rug.  Will it be all right if you simply don’t mention these defects?  Definitely not!
It is a mistake to think that your home will sell more quickly by concealing its little (or not so little) imperfections.  We have seen these seemingly insignificant items  escalate into major issues that have ruined a sale that would have closed if only the seller would have disclosed the problems upfront...
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
When you Buy you must protect your Investment - Feb 24, 2010 - 11:59:45 AM

It appears that the world wide real estate market is showing some signs of recovery in 2010 and this will slowly effect our local real estate market in a positive way.  On Grand Bahama Island we never have experienced the real estate boom so fortunately we were spared the bust that our neighbors across the water experienced.  Our banking system has always leaned towards conservative loans so they never found themselves with the volume of bad loans like the banks in the States.

As anyone who has tried to get a mortgage from the local banks knows the banks do a very thorough job and they do not make it easy to borrow money.  However if you look at the high unemployment rate in Freeport and look at the bank ads for foreclosed property you will see we have a lot of properties that the banks are still forced to liquidate due to our economy...
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Negotiating Real Estate Deals in 2010 - Feb 17, 2010 - 3:26:08 PM

It is a fact that property prices in Freeport have gone down over the last 2 years but this downward trend seems to have stabilized.  If you look statistically at the actual transactions of what property sells for,  not what the property is listed for you will see that there has been a correction in the market even if the property list prices have not reflected it yet. I can assure you that buyers who are making aggressive offers are getting noticed and there are many sellers that are tired of waiting for their property to sell and willing to negotiate on the price to reflect realistic current market value.   

The good news is that if you are a buyer then 2010 is a great time to buy , but the trick is in the successful contract negotiations. There are motivated sellers in this buyers market but selling price for a home or investment property is only one factor in determining whether the buyer and seller reach an agreement...

Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
What Homeowners Want - Feb 11, 2010 - 11:11:11 AM

As we all know the real estate market in Freeport and the world has changed. Your success in buying and selling believe it or not has a lot to do with your attitude and perspective on the current situation.  If you believe that your glass is half empty then you will agree that this economy is in the worst shape it has been in many years and you are questioning if your house can really sell in this market because you believe “tings is bad” Yes many sellers have made adjustments decreasing their list prices. Yes there are a lot of properties on the market and when the inventory and/or supply is greater than the demand it becomes a competitive buyers market. 

Yes buyers are looking for exceptional deals and not willing to pay top dollar for properties.  Yes our local economy is hurting and unemployment figures some say are creeping up above 12% which has very negative ramifications on the economy...
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Property Ownership Builds Wealth - Jan 27, 2010 - 11:20:50 AM

We are already 28 days into the New Year an if one of your New Year goals was to get involved in Real Estate on Grand Bahama Island and build wealth then it is time to make your move. Don’t let another year slip away and Be a Woulda Coulda Shoulda person but rather make your move now.   It is an economic historical fact that home and land ownership builds wealth in spite of fluctuating economic conditions.

When there is uncertainty in the market people start questioning whether it is a good time to buy and sell real estate. We are all aware that the number of sales have dropped dramatically by our neighbours 60 miles away in Florida, and their  selling prices dropped last year. As our market in Grand Bahama never had the boom mentality that Florida had, we have not seen a huge drop in home sales and over the past 5 years our prices still have seen slow but steady appreciation... 
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Stay Calm until the Real Estate Deal is Done - Jan 13, 2010 - 3:35:47 PM

We are already 14 days into the New Year and I am pleased to report that there appears to be a little real estate action in Grand Bahama in 2010. We are receiving inquiries on our web site from buyers, our sales agents are showing property and buyers are making offers again. It is by no means a robust real estate market but there are positive signs that we are on the road to recovery. It is still a buyers market and there are not that many deals around so if you are a seller or a buyer and you are involved in a deal and getting ready to close the transaction remember what the Baseball Great Yogi Berra said “It ain’t over till its over.” He wasn’t talking about the real estate closing table but he could have been...
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
New Year's Real Estate Resolutions - Jan 6, 2010 - 11:16:49 AM

This is my first article of the New Year so I’d like to wish all readers of Let’s Talk Real Estate a Happy Healthy New Year ! Its officially the year 2010 which sounds like a Science Fiction Movie but believe it or not  its real which means it’s the start of a new year and a new decade.  At the start of every year we all make  New Year’s Resolutions.  We take inventory of all the things we hope to change from 2009, we look in the mirror and tell that person about the changes to be made in the New Year. Of course what we don’t always do is follow through.  This year, as we enter a new decade and look back at one of Grand Bahama’s and the world’s worst real estate markets in decades , we have an opportunity to make some New Year’s Real Estate Resolutions.

If you’re buying or selling a home in 2010, keep these New Year Real Estate Resolutions in mind...

Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
2010 is the Year for you to Finally Sell your Property - Dec 26, 2009 - 10:06:16 AM

It’s almost Christmas Eve and this is my last Let’s Talk Real Estate column for 2009.  This year has flown by and I can hardly believe that 2010 is only 7 days away.  I appreciate all the feedback I have received from the articles I write each week and I hope in some small way I have helped you with my real estate advice this year. I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy Prosperous New Year.  In the New Year we all will make New Year’s Resolutions, some of which we keep and others which we won’t. The  top  New Years Resolutions every year include:  Spend More Time with Family & Friends , Exercise More, Tame the Bulge , Quit Smoking , Enjoy Life More , Quit Drinking , Get Out of Debt , Learn Something New , Help Others , Get Organized , AND  BUY OR SELL REAL ESTATE TO CHANGE YOUR LIVING CONDITIONS....
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Top 10 Reasons to List Your Home For Sale during the Holidays - Dec 9, 2009 - 9:48:26 AM

The question that sellers always ask around this time of year is  “Should I list or keep selling my home during the Holidays?  Many people would say NO you should wait until after the Holiday Season because everyone is too busy thinking about Christmas and not about buying homes or property.  This may be true for some BUT here are 10 reasons why you should list and keep selling your home during the Holidays. I know that many sellers are very frustrated with our soft  market but remember it only takes one buyer to make a deal and your deal might be just around the corner.  Wouldn’t that be the BEST  Christmas present this year?  Over the years we have sold many homes during the Holidays and this year could be your turn ! 

Here are the Top 10 Reasons a Seller Should List During the Holidays! 

Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
The Canadians are coming, so sellers get your house ready! - Nov 4, 2009 - 11:43:57 AM

As everyone knows by now WestJet launched non-stop service between Toronto and Freeport , Bahamas this week. This is a great shot in the arm for our real estate market because Canadians have traditionally been very interested in the Freeport market and have invested in real estate over the years.

Hugh Dunleavy, WestJet Executive Vice-President of Strategy and Planning is telling the Canadian media “a trip to Freeport is the perfect way to escape a Canadian winter!" To have someone finally promoting Freeport to the Canadians is music to Freeports ears! 35 years ago in fact Grand Bahama was the number one warm weather tourist destination for Canadians. So sellers get your house ready because 12,000 Canadians will be coming to our shores over the next 6 months which could mean that the buyer you have been waiting for may be on their way...

Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Is This the Time to Sell? - Oct 7, 2009 - 9:33:13 PM

Can you believe that it is already October 8th which means that Christmas is  only 11 weeks away.  Boy does time fly when you are watching bad news on TV!   What a roller coaster ride we have had this year with the world economic meltdown which lead to the global recession, tourist numbers way down in the Bahamas, Royal Oasis still closed, Xanadu Closed,  a 3 year legal battle over the Grand Bahama Port  Authority ownership still dragging on, huge unemployment in the US and on Grand Bahama,  big multi-million dollar Bahama projects like Ginn stalled, the local real estate market  historically slow and depressed and the list goes on.

If you are pessimist and think the glass is half empty you probably think that everything will continue to get worse and you probably think that there is no real estate market in the Bahamas  and especially in Grand Bahama...


Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Condominiums - Oct 3, 2009 - 9:12:52 AM

I received an e-mail from a reader of Lets Talk Real Estate  who wanted information about condominiums or condos. As condos have always been very popular in Grand Bahama I thought this was a very good topic that other readers might be interested in as well. The condo market like all property on the Island, throughout the Carribbean and the US has taken a beating since the economic melt down from a year ago. Our values are down approximately 15% and the number of transactions are down 50% market wide. Our local economy is in very rough shape with unemployment numbers somewhere between 13 and 15%. But in spite of these numbers the market seems to be turning as tourism looks like it will experience a much needed increase with West Jet service from Toronto, new flights from New York, direct flights from Charlotte, direct flights from Atlanta and the Club Grand Bahama promotion which will all have an economic trickle down...
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Full Disclosure is the Best Policy - Sep 30, 2009 - 10:34:16 AM

As Abe Lincoln once said “Honesty is the best policy” and if Abe were a real estate agent he would have said Be honest and disclose any problems you have in your house upfront to your real estate agent. 

Let’s say that you just listed your beautiful home in Fortune Bay for sale, and you withheld a few “little” problems from your real estate agent – the roof leaks, but only when it rains; the outlet in the back bedroom won’t spark unless something is plugged in; and there is a stain on the oak floor in the living room that is covered up by a rug.  Will it be all right if you simply don’t mention these defects?  Definitely not!

Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Inexpensive Renovations That Increase a Home’s Value - Sep 10, 2009 - 12:11:05 AM

If you have had your home on the market for a long time in Freeport you will may not believe this next statement but its true….  There are a few Buyers on the island and now is the time to make sure your home stands out if you want to sell. Home value is top of mind for many homeowners, particularly as our housing market begins to show early signs of recovery from the recent downturn.  Renovations and remodeling can play a critical role in both increasing the value of a home and ensuring that it stands out to potential buyers.

At a time when most people are looking to do more with less, few homeowners may be ready to commit the thousands of dollars it can take to fully redo even a single room.  But here are eight affordable home improvements for potentially increasing the overall value of a home, without breaking the budget:

  Reface Kitchen Cabinets. Kitchen updates are among the smartest remodeling projects when it comes to “upping” the resale value of a home. But homeowners do not need to spring for an entire new cabinet set to improve the room’s appeal.
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Signs of Recovery in the Real Estate Market - Aug 19, 2009 - 12:39:25 PM

As the end of summer draws near there is good news in the real estate world.  We are not anywhere near the glory days of late 1999 – early 2000’s but there are positive signs of the recovery.  In the US more people signed sales contracts to buy homes in June than in May, the fifth consecutive month of increases, according to a report released Tuesday.

In Grand Bahama according to local realtors the phones are starting to ring again, real estate agents are showing homes again, people are making offers on homes and there are a few sales occurring. The numbers are small and the activity is minimal but there is activity which is a good sign for everyone.  Potential Buyers who had been on the side lines are coming out to the playing field again and creating a market. There are even buyers coming from Nassau who want to invest in Freeport  because the prices and opportunity are much better in Freeport than Nassau...
Columns : Let's Talk Real Estate - James Sarles
Raise Your Property Value - Jul 29, 2009 - 11:10:36 AM

As we all know the world economy has slowed down many aspects of our local economy and home sales is one of those things that has really slowed down. There are some positive signs that things will improve but it is still a matter of Consumer Confidence and this will take a while to get back on track.  

So like many people you might want to sell your home
  but you want to sell for the right price and the market is not exactly where you want it to be right now.   If you want to sell there are a few buyers out there who are looking to get great deals on property. If you want to invest in yourself you should consider improving your own home and raise your property value and wait for the market to improve.   

While improving one’s lifestyle is a fundamental reason for a home renovation, homeowners should   be aware that with proper research, planning and thoughtfulness...

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