December Market Update


Why WaterColours leads property market upswing

As published in the Cayman Compass – WEDNESDAY 3 DECEMBER, 2014

As we reported last month, statistics show that the Cayman Islands property market is being driven to a considerable extent by the movement of luxury condominiums along the highly prized Seven Mile Beach corridor.

As mentioned in my November article, year-to-date, there have been significant increases in the number of units sold along Seven Mile Beach (as recorded by CIREBA), with more than a 146 percent increase in condos under US$500,000, more than 133 percent in condos $500K to $1 million, more than 89 percent in condos $1 million to $2 million and more than 25 percent for condos over $2 million.

These numbers, however, do not include the sales of the WaterColours development, as the building was not yet completed at the time of purchase and will therefore not be included in CIREBA’s numbers as sold until later this year. So, when we add in the 43 units sold, all for more than $2 million, this number is truly impressive.

As evident when you drive along West Bay Road, the building is now completed and some residents have already taken possession. There are just 14 units left of a total of 57 units (which includes three double units, each sold for more than US$8 million).

Prices for the residences have increased in value by approximately 10-15 percent in the last year, indicating an upswing in interest as the number available dwindles. And buyers are not put off by having to pay a premium at this late stage, knowing the development has been completed versus the risk of purchasing during the pre-construction stage, especially after going through a downturn in the global economy when many developments Caribbean-wide had to stop or fold.

Beachfront pool and deck at the WaterColours Grand Cayman

When development of WaterColours began in 2009, it was a particularly difficult year for property development, not only for the region, but also worldwide. The Caribbean suffered heavy losses, with the economic recession and inevitable pullback of construction hitting the region particularly hard, coming as it did off the back of a prosperous period of growth in the region.

Notable regional development failures included the Molasses Reef Ritz-Carlton luxury resort in Turks & Caicos, which once boasted a hotel and large villas, and the US$2.5 billion Harmony Cove Development project in Trelawny, Jamaica, which is only now taking shape, along with closure of the timeshare Simpson Bay Resort and Marina, formerly known as the Pelican Resort Club and Marina Residences, which sent shock waves throughout St. Maarten when it closed a few years ago.

By comparison, Fraser Wellon’s WaterColours development continued, despite the tough economic climate – one of the very few ultra-luxurious developments to continue through the last few years in the Caribbean.

Coming out of this latest recession, buyers in general were exceptionally nervous when it came to investing in a second home in the Caribbean, as development in neighboring countries ground to a halt.

In many ways, the success of the WaterColours development reflects the jurisdiction as a whole, as the Cayman Islands weathered the recent global economic crisis extremely well, showing the incredible resilience of these islands, an indicator therefore of why investors ultimately want to be here because it’s a solid, safe and secure place in which to reside and do business. And because of this, we attract a particular kind of consumer – those who are highly intelligent and articulate, business savvy and truly know what the island is all about.