May 2016 Market Update


Why Cayman’s real estate is valued so highly

The recent news that the Cayman Islands Government has finalised plans to establish a new regime for sharing information with UK law enforcement with regard to the beneficial ownership of companies in Cayman should be welcomed by all. Back in the mid Nineties the Cayman Islands made a decision to make it very clear that we did not want bad business. With legislation that was put in place at the time, the Cayman Islands led the call for enhanced due diligence and Know-Your-Customer among our competitors. Our reasoning was that the cream would rise to the top and ultimately the Cayman Islands would end up with quality business, a stance that has served the Cayman Islands well over the past few decades.

This new regime that has recently been agreed between the UK and Cayman Islands governments will continue to allow our customers the privacy that we have always been able to respect and uphold, and which has been a mainstay of the Cayman Islands financial services industry, while at the same time permitting UK law enforcement, through a carefully structured system, to obtain information on beneficial ownership when the need arises, making sure there are no phishing expeditions.

Cayman Islands real estate is therefore highly prized because of the general high quality clientele that we attract and the fact that we have a financial services industry that is so sophisticated and robust that it is the main pillar of our economy. As a result, we have a very strong foundation from which other business, such as the real estate industry, can flourish. We also stand head and shoulders above our competitor jurisdictions because we don’t simply rely on our tourism industry (as many do) to support our industry. Diversification and strengthening of the economy leads to a far more sustainable future for everyone.

A look at the numbers

Year to date (12 April, at the time of writing) activity in comparison to the same time frame last year makes for interesting reading, according to figures published by the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA).

Last year CIREBA members as a whole had sold 122 residential properties in that time period, while this year we have sold 141. Single family homes sold from 1st January to 12 April 2015 numbered 30 at a total value of US$18,308,833.16; this year that figure has increased to 39 and a total value of US$44,910,332.77. It is interesting to note that while the number of single family home sales has increased 30%, the value of these properties sold has increased by an impressive 145%. This bears out my predictions that the higher end of the single family homes market was about to move after years of stagnation. The flurry of activity in new building, especially along the 7 Mile Corridor and South Sound, underscores this view.

At the same time, the movement in condo sales, while still increasing somewhat over last year, has been a lot slower, with 90 condos sold in the same time period in 2015 versus 100 sold in 2016 to 12th April. These numbers again bear out my recent comments in past market updates, which highlight the gradually dwindling inventory in condos, especially along the Seven Mile Beach corridor. So, if you see a property that you love, it’s a good idea to make your move now!