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
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
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:
are 2 important points to consider regarding our current real estate market.
One. Unlike our neighbors to the North, we never
really experienced the boom market, which created the American housing bubble.
In 2008 when the US housing bubble burst and many homes lost almost 50% of
their value, sleepy Grand Bahama prices did not move very much— because they had
never soared that much—and so they also did not come down that much either.
Two. We seem to forget that real estate follows a
cycle; we forget that history repeats itself. Its like we all have
amnesia and we have never seen down markets before. There is a saying
that what goes up must come down, and what is down must come up. Real
estate is no different. There were major shifts or down real estate
markets in 1979, then 1987, then 2008. According to top economists, we
are slowly (very slowly) recovering and the markets may stay flat for a while,
so we are in a new paradigm—a new model for growth.
All About Timing
If you wait for the markets to hit bottom or fully
recover you might be waiting a long time. Prices don’t really go up or down for
logical reasons. Sellers and buyers change their minds based on their
confidence in the marketplace—that’s what really causes prices to go up and
down. Unfortunately, no one can tell you exactly when we reach bottom, because
when the market prices begin to rise, it’s only then that you realize you
missed the bottom!
There is no doubt in my mind that if you are
looking for motivated sellers and deals in real estate,
this is the time. It’s one of those times when the aggressive
people make a lot of money, and the more timid just look from the sidelines and
become what I call a “Would of, Could of, Should of” seller or buyer.
If you are a potential homebuyer, condo buyer,
duplex buyers, land speculator, canal homebuyer, or commercial buyer get up off
your seat and look around for deals. The market is soft right now, so this is
the time to get a terrific value at the right price. Listing prices have not
fluctuated on paper, but the actual deals that are being made reflect reduced
No one knows for sure what is in store for the
world economics, or Freeport, but what we do know is that throughout history,
real estate has proven to be a great longterm investment. While prices are down
and sellers are motivated, this may be the right time for you. If you have been
thinking about real estate, this is the time to get out there and start
To Get Started
How do you begin your search? First, find a real
estate professional that will help you identify and locate the features you’re
looking for in a property. Ask your family, friends and business contacts for
referrals of real estate professionals that they have worked with—people who
helped them successfully with their real estate purchase and sale. When you
find the real estate agent/broker, talk with them about your practical needs
and describe the property of your dreams. Work with a realtor you feel you can
trust, who communicates a clear understanding of your goals and shows you
listings that match your search criteria.
Do your financial homework. Meet with the banks to
determine how much you can borrow based on your income, and research interest
rates. Decide how much cash you can put together for a down payment, and how
much you need to put aside for closing costs, which typically amounts to between
4% and 7% of the purchase price of a property. Do your homework financially.
As you go out property-hunting, concentrate on
neighborhoods that are ideal for your needs. Look at homes that have enough
square footage, a pleasing floor plan, and a suitable yard for your family, or
boat dockage if that’s important to you. You can always repaint the walls and
replace the carpet, but changing the “footprint” of the home is more
complicated and costly.
Don’t procrastinate. Do it NOW. If your realtor has
a property to show you, go out to look at it immediately. If you really like
the home and can picture yourself living in it contentedly, consult with your
realtor about making an offer right away.
Before entering into negotiations for the home, ask
the seller to fully disclose any serious defects that may require repairs,
particularly any that involve one of the major systems in the home.
Don’t wait for interest rates to climb – initiate
your home buying process now because the future of Freeport might just surprise
you. Many of us who have been around Freeport for many years know that Freeport
has always been the bridesmaid—never the bride—but the time is coming that
Grand Bahama will succeed in spite of itself to fulfill its potential.
We have all become very jaded and think that
Freeport will never get ahead. Nothing could be less true. I believe it is
impossible for Grand Bahama Island with
all its potential and strategic location, to stagnate forever. From a pine
barren covered island inhabited by Lucayan and Arawak Indians, then
re-discovered by Columbus, then settled by the displaced colonial loyalists and
slaves, and then re-discovered again by Wallace Groves, the island has come a
long way already. At one point in time, not that long ago, it seemed impossible
to imagine the size and scope of the Container Port, the Grand Bahama Shipyard,
the industrial sector, the airport, the infrastructure, the homes, the condos,
the communities, the utilities, the schools, the restaurants, the shops, the
business owners, the employees, the canal system, and our incredibly resilient and
Freeport is a city with great potential. It will
move forward. Sure we could improve on quite a few things, but it only takes a
series of small changes to make a major shift. If we fix things like the
airlift situation, create a first class cruise port, develop medical tourism,
create more jobs, attract more investors and visitors, beautify the island’s
landscaping, and have all of Freeport working together, these changes will
create a major shift in the economy and Freeport will be reborn.
This will of course change the real estate
landscape, and the market could change from a buyers market to a sellers market
almost overnight. There are many people working towards this change and we all
need to pitch in to help our community fulfill its promise. It will not be done
for us. All of us in our own small way must make it happen—and it will.
It is time to bring the magic back to Freeport—a
community that was once proudly dubbed
Magic City. At Coldwell Banker/James Sarles Realty, we believe in the
future of Freeport.
Good Luck with your property hunting. Until next