Sunday, May 19, 2013

LET'S TALK REAL ESTATE by James Sarles

WILL THE BIG PROJECTS REALLY COME TO FREEPORT?

On Grand Bahama Island, we never believe any news about big projects coming on stream because we have been let down so many times with developments that have been talked about in the press, but never happen. We jealousy watch major projects unfold in Nassau, like Atlantis, Bahamar, Albany, and projects like Baker's Bay in Abaco. They even say that Sol Kerzner came to Freeport and met with Edward St. George about building hotels right here on our island, but ended up building the world famous Atlantis in Nassau—which has obviously had a major impact on the Nassau economy. 

Though talk is cheap, in last week's Nassau Guardian there was an announcement about a major Chinese-funded project in the East End called Blackwood Point Resort & Marina which would include a 1500 room casino hotel, and billion dollar power plant. This project sounds like it could be one of the shots in the arm that we need to turn Grand Bahama around. So, we all cross our fingers and hope that this project comes to be. "Wouldn't It Be Great" if this project comes on stream, along with the new water theme park, and Sunwing Travel leasing 500 rooms from Grand Lucayan?

I believe that it is only a matter of time before Grand Bahama Island with all of its infrastructure, beautiful beaches, proximity to the US, and  unlimited opportunity fulfills its destiny which was the vision of Wallace Groves over 58 years ago.  It seems that the government and the Port want to see Freeport prosper, but the proof will be in their actions.

Any of these projects coming on stream will help our sluggish real estate market. Our market remains flat but there are some positive signs coming from the United States and the other islands in The Bahamas that the real estate market could be improving.  Unfortunately, we are lagging behind Abaco and Nassau because they have new projects, new blood and new energy which means consumer confidence and economic activity. We need a good dose of that consumer confidence here. So I say to the powers that be: Please let Freeport prosper, and do whatever it takes to make Foreign Investors want to invest in our island so that we can all prosper.

So, we remain a buyers market—which means that this is a good time to buy.

For those who don't know what that means: A buyers market is a market which has more sellers than buyers, and low prices result from this excess supply over demand.
If you own a home or land in Grand Bahama and you who want to sell today in the middle of this buyers market and slow economy, you have a choice: You can sell in the current market at current market value or you can wait and wait and wait and wait until you get "your price."
Of course, the second option assumes that buyers will wait for you. If you really want to sell your property today, my recommendation is that you need to: forget about the real estate market of just a few years ago, forget what you paid for your house, forget what your friends think your property is worth, forget what the neighbors have listed their property for, forget what the house was appraised for three to four years ago, and face the new reality that Grand Bahama is a true buyers market and price your property at market value.
For those who don't know what that means: Market Value is the highest price a willing buyer would pay, and a willing seller would accept, both being fully informed, and the property being exposed for sale for a reasonable period of time.
We have a big problem on Grand Bahama. We have a lot of property for sale and very few buyers—and lots of stubborn sellers with unrealistic prices.
You may say... so what's the problem?
The problem is that when a buyer comes to the island from the U.S. or Europe and figures out that it is a buyers market they make aggressive offers and the sellers don't accept the offer or counter offer with reasonable prices.
So, the buyer goes away and says that Freeport prices are too high and the sellers keep their properties on the market and complain that the Freeport Real Estate Market is horrible and nothing is selling.
Now I am only speaking the truth. I believe that our prices are too high, and if you look at the properties that are selling they are way below market value.
This is not conjecture. This is based on actual sales vs. list price. If sellers would look at their homes like they do stocks they would sell at the market value, not what the stock price "could be or should be."
So when a real estate agent tells you that your property is worth X based on comparative sales and market value, this is what the house will sell for. If you overprice a house it will take longer to sell and may not sell at all, which hurts the seller and the market in general.
If you want to sell your property today the most important advice I can give sellers is Price It Right. If you don't want to sell at market value, take your house off the market until the market value and your expectations match. Don't list high and see if someone bites at the offer. Use the right bait which is the right price!
So if you want to sell, Price It Right, and if you want to buy now is the absolute best time to buy because there are great buys in every category of property. Don't be afraid to make aggressive offers in this buyers market..... And lets all hope that the big projects really do come to Freeport!
James Sarles, President
Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty


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