Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grand Bahama Introduced to London

James Sarles, President of Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty, was recently invited by exclusive Savills to the launch of their Caribbean desk, where he showcased Grand Bahama property listings in London. Sarles works with Savills—a global real estate service provider listed on the London Stock Exchange—to give his clients greater world wide reach.

Savills encompasses an international network of more than 200 offices and associates throughout the Americas, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East. A broad range of specialist advisory, management, and transactional services is offered to clients all over the world.

The 2-day introduction of the Caribbean property desk was held at the fabulous Landownes Club with a reception at the famous Fortnum and Mason's—a purveyor of fine fare and a longstanding favorite of the Queen of England and gourmet fans the world over.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Martha Stewart in Baker's Bay on Great Guana Cay, Abaco

Martha Stewart recently wrote in her blog about a wonderful visit with her family and friends at the exclusive Baker's Bay Golf & Ocean Club in Great Guana Cay, Abaco.

We certainly agree: the charms and idyllic out-islands of The Bahamas are a Very Good Thing!

Friday, January 20, 2012


By James Sarles, President, Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty


We all know that the real estate market in The Bahamas is very slow AND we also know it is not dead. The New Year has brought new buyers who are looking for Real Estate deals. Many people have made New Year’s resolutions for 2012 to invest or move to The Bahamas AND they are looking to BUY. So, if you are a seller, please listen to this advice that most real estate agents don’t have the guts to tell you:

If a local real estate agent brings a prospective buyer to see your house, instead of being so excited to tell them how great your house is and trying to become their new best friend, my respectful advice to you is: GET LOST.

This is the time to let the real estate agent do their job IF you really want to sell.

For example, let’s say you finally made the decision to sell your home or condo. You've spent hours cleaning and preparing, discarding old clutter, rearranging that abandoned closet, trimming your bougainvillea, and replanting your banana and papaya trees.

You've gone to Dolly Madison, Kelly's, Paint Fair and Furniture Outlet and have given your property a total facelift. Your bathroom is clean and sparkling. A fresh bouquet of flowers from Sylvan at Butler’s Food World is sitting on the dining room table.

Now comes the tricky part: allowing complete strangers to walk through your home. This is the time when the services of a trustworthy, reliable, real estate broker are essential. Although you may be tempted to be present when a realtor shows your home, the best advice I can offer to you is to GET LOST! WALK OUT THE DOOR, relax, read The Freeport News, visit a friend, grab a cup of coffee, and let your real estate agent present your home to its best possible advantage.

People are naturally sensitive when they are a guest in someone's home,  and will be reluctant to voice their concerns if you are there. An inhibited buyer is not an active buyer! Your real estate agent should be familiar with your home and should be ready to answer any questions an interested party may have without making them feel uncomfortable.

A good real estate agent has the experience to help potential buyers ask their questions and respond to them with reassurance. In the buyer's mind,  your very presence keeps the home your home and makes it more difficult for them to visualize the home as theirs. With a clean, airy, open residence, they can more easily imagine how it would feel to be enjoying the house as much as you do.

In addition, homeowners selling their house (especially for the first time) often appear a bit nervous, and naturally so. Your innocent defense of the purple paint in the guest room may make sense to you, but may chill the feet of an interested party. Don't take other people's preferences personally. Everyone has his or her own tastes. What you want is a sale. Moreover, the buyer might interpret your anxiety as a need to sell, which could result in lower bids and counter offers.

The purchase of a home is a formidable undertaking. Most people require a significant amount of time in a house they are seriously considering and may wish to visit the home again and again. The concern you may experience as a seller is just as real for the buyer. Prospective clients may need the opportunity to scrutinize and analyze your home freely. You must grant them the space to do so. This allows them to overcome their anxiety and go through the purchasing process with a happy and clear mind.

People are usually more willing to speak candidly with the real estate agent than they are with the seller directly. You may be able to profit from the observations of others. After a showing, ask your Realtor for a follow-up report. An accomplished agent will be able to process the feedback from prospective buyers constructively and let you know if any changes need to be made. Don't be afraid to hear everything and be open to suggestions.

Your real estate agent is experienced and is trained to support you in finding solutions to those possible sore thumbs. They can help potential buyers get past their stumbling blocks. While a certain invasion of privacy must be endured, and some changes may need to be made, remember your goal: to sell your home quickly and for the best price possible. That's the real estate agent's goal too, so work with your real estate agent to achieve everyone's mutual interests so we may SELL SELL SELL while you happily GET LOST LOST LOST. Until next week ...
 James Sarles

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Real Estate Predictions in 2012


by James Sarles, President, Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty

One of the interesting parts of ringing in the New Year is the speculation on what the next twelve months will bring to the Grand Bahama Real Estate Market, the US Real Estate Market and the world Real Estate Market. Collecting New Year predictions isn't as silly as it sounds; it gives knowledgeable players a chance to share what they know.  For my readers who are wondering what to do in 2012, here are a few interesting trusted voices in the US market which directly correlates to our market. Because as the saying goes, when the US sneezes, we catch a cold in Grand Bahama.

Karl Case, an economist and professor emeritus at Wellesley College, is one of the nation's smartest observers of the real-estate market in the US. The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, invented by Karl Case and Robert Shiller, "is pretty much the Dow Jones industrial average of real estate," says The New York Times.   I read an article by Karl, who predicts that the real estate market in the US is showing signs of recovery. That’s good sign for our market.

Bloomberg, a major global provider of 24-hour financial news and information says that even the worst-hit markets in the US will begin to see improvement by 2012, writes Bloomberg real-estate reporters, Prashant Gopal and Diana Holden.

The Kiplinger Letter, a weekly business and economic forecasting periodical predicts "The bleeding is just about over. But don't expect a speedy recovery."

So the “US experts” predict that we may have hit bottom which means this may be the time to buy in our market. I feel that with so many homes on the market in our sluggish market, now might be one of the best times in recent memory to buy a home. While buyers have the advantage in today’s real estate market, they still need to be savvy in order to get the best deal.

Throughout history there have always been business cycles of recession and recovery which correlate to great real estate markets and soft markets. In other words, the direction of economic activity eventually changes so now that the market is down  you have to be prepared for the market to recover.  Many times in these past cycles, the world  economy started to recover well before anyone really realized that the recession was ending.  If you keep a watchful eye on the news even when the statistics show high unemployment and it looks like a vicious downward cycle that will never end, the economy could actually be on its way to recovery.

In Grand Bahama we are directly influenced by the US and world economy and as things get better in the world investors will return to the island and we will get back on track. I truly believe that Grand Bahama has an opportunity to meet its potential even though we sometimes feel that it will never get ahead.  If the Government, The Port Authority and all of the members of the community do their part in being productive and make good decisions things will turn around.  It only takes a small shift to get the magic back in the magic city.  So here are some things I urge home buyers to keep in mind while the market is soft and it is a buyer’s market with a lot of property on the market and good deals all around:

Don’t Try to Time the Market: When home prices are low, it is very tempting for buyers to wait as long as possible in the hopes that prices will decline even further.   This strategy can be detrimental.   Once a home is priced to what the current market will bear, buyers will make offers.   It is best to to make an offer based upon the prices at which similar homes in the market are selling for.   In a buyer’s market, there are more opportunities for negotiations, but making an offer is the right step. If you find a great deal on a house that has great future potential if you wait too long you might miss the opportunity and the market may climb and the owner may raise the price. So now is the time.

Take Your Time…To A Degree: The increased supply of homes on the market gives homebuyers a great opportunity to evaluate a variety of properties. However, this does not mean that homebuyers can procrastinate. Don’t be a "Wouldof-couldof-shouldof”. Be a proud owner of a great house at a great price. If you find a great deal, go for it.

Homes Are Selling: Properly priced homes are selling. The # of transactions in Freeport have decreased but there is property selling for realistic market prices and buyers are getting great deals that they will be proud of in years to come.

Watch the Mortgage Rates: Rates are very reasonable now. While it is true that mortgage rates have risen over the past few years they seem to be going down again so be sure to watch the rates and do the math carefully, because changes in mortgage rates are not necessarily cost prohibitive.

Negotiate on the Incentives: Sellers eager to move their homes may offer a variety of incentives such as cars, boats furniture,  and other deal sweeteners. Before accepting an incentive, make sure it makes sense.

This is one of those moments in history where a savvy investor has   the opportunity to do   very well in real estate.   I wish you all great success in your real estate hunting. There are many skilled BREA (Bahamas Real Estate Association) agents in Grand Bahama who can help you make your dreams a reality. So call them and get your piece of the rock!
I wish everyone Real Estate Success in 2012.

Until next time,

James Sarles