Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rotary Club of GB Sunrise Presents 3rd Annual Cigar Nights

The Rotary Club of GB Sunrise will hold their 3rd Annual Cigar Nights Fundraiser on June 1, 2013 at the Pelican Bay Hotel Canal House in support of the club's Big Brother/Big Sister Youth Mentoring Program and community projects. 

Cigar Nights promises to be a fun filled evening. The event is a Cuban-themed event with Cigar Rollers from Graycliff in Nassau, Salsa Dancers, Jazz Band, Cuban food, DJ, and a Chinese Auction where guests can win prizes like Ipad2, Samsung S2 Tablet, Kindle Fire, iPod touch, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, Kuerig Coffee Maker and more through purchase of raffle tickets. The event is in its 3rd year and attracts a wide variety members of the community who come out have a great time and support a very worthy cause.

Drinks are very reasonably priced. Dress: Vintage Havana.
Tickets available at OBS Marine, VTrade, J.S.Johnson, James Sarles Realty, ParrisWhittaker or from any GB Sunrise Rotarian member. 

Here are some pictures from the previous years that you should check out
(click on first photo to see more): 

1st Annual Cigar Nights * 2nd Annual Cigar Night

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Columbus House Holiday Beach Day

Keenan and and Brittney Baldwin are members of the Rotary Club of GB Sunrise and mentors of the Big Brother Big Sister Youth Mentoring program. On Monday, May 20th (Whit Monday Holiday) 2013 they decided to give the Columbus House Boys and Girls a treat by organizing a beach picnic and Paddle Board afternoon. Thanks to Reef Tours bus and Paddle Boards, the Columbus House Boys and Girls and other friends of Columbus House had a great Beach day. On behalf of the Columbus House Boys and Girls... A Big Thank You to Keenan and Brittney Baldwin.

Sunday, May 19, 2013



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

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Best Investment on Earth is still EARTH

The US housing slump is over, according to experts. I wish I could say the same for Freeport, but that would only be wishful thinking. From the local perspective, our housing market is still very slow, and the number of sales transactions are still very slow, with a surplus of inventory meaning that there are lots of houses for sale. This oversupply of property for sale makes this truly a Buyers Market: prices are down and buyers can make aggressive offers because there is so much to choose from.

It has been said that the best investment on Earth is Earth, which means the best investment is and always will be: Real Estate. It's hard to believe sitting here in Freeport that things will improve in the real estate market, but according to many top economists, the world economy is emerging from the worst recession in five decades and the future looks hopeful. The housing market in the US has made a big comeback over the past year and home prices in the US have surged some 8%. Home buyers can't seem to buy up properties fast enough.
 We are, of course, not the US, but we are greatly influenced by the US market, so the trends are moving in the right direction. Our neighbors in Abaco and Nassau are already feeling the movement with increased real estate activity. This is due to the world market recovery as well as the big projects like Albany, Bahamar, Atlantis, and Baker's Bay. We do not have any of those projects, which would change Freeport overnight, but the buyers are out there and they are interested in buying in The Bahamas. We don't have all the amenities as Nassau—or the beauty of Abaco—but Freeport is unique and is a perfect fit for many buyers.
So, we are in a Buyers Market in Freeport—and that is not great news for you sellers BUT—if you are selling your home this does not mean that you can’t or won’t sell your house. It does mean that you have to be smart and deal with the reality of this tough market.  There are houses selling and it appears that interest in real estate is coming alive again as the Freeport market is showing some signs of recovery.
So if you are a seller in this market and you want to be one of the sellers whose house does sell, you have your work cut out for you because it’s a buyers market. Buyers have a lot of options in Freeport so it is very important to make sure your house  is ready for sale. Think of a potential buyer as going on a date with your house, and it’s your job to get your house ready for the first date.
What does it take to sell a home in a buyers’ market? … a fresh coat of paint or a kitchen overhaul? ,,, lowering the asking price or offering incentives? From cosmetic to strategic strategies, smart sellers can take advantage of a few simple tips to get the most out of their properties and help sell their house. Here are a few strategies to get your house from FOR SALE to SOLD!
Boost Curb Appeal.  Though these may be obvious things to look at, cosmetic upgrades, such as painting and planting, can truly go a long way to forming a fantastic first impression of a home. Also be sure to clean, clean, clean!

Make Big Fixes Where Possible, If budget allows, invest in bigger improvements. Focus on “make or break” rooms like bathrooms and kitchens, because nothing says “uninviting” like an unattractive cooking space. If budget is limited think about smaller home improvements in these areas which could help close the deal.

Transparency is Golden.  Getting a preliminary professional home inspection and sharing it with potential buyers may help them understand a home’s condition and reinforce that everything is being done in a trustworthy and responsible manner. Make sure to be clear about recent improvements that have been made, and provide estimates on other optional upgrades—especially ones that can be included as part of the agreement.

Go the Extra Mile. Do whatever you can to make your house stand out. You usually only have a few minutes to make the first impression so make it count! As they say...You only have one chance to make a first impression.

Be Realistic with Price. Selling in a buyer’s market takes skill and strategy. In Freeport, increased inventory has given buyers the opportunity to be selective in the home they want and the price they are willing to pay. Properly priced homes are selling, and a good agent will help determine what that price should be.

Also understand that it normally takes a bit longer to sell a home in buyer’s market than in a seller’s market. Sellers often take great pride in their homes, but it is important to set a priced based solely on factors like location, condition, size, and what other homes have sold for. A house in an exclusive area may be appealing to some buyers, while others will want to be closer to schools and shopping.

What is the physical condition of the home? Is it a fixer-upper? Does it make a good first impression (or have “curb appeal”)? Will it appeal to a growing family, or is it better suited for empty nesters? These are all things that need to be considered when pricing a home.

These are a few tips to help you sellers get prepared for this buyers market. So even though things may be looking pretty dismal in Freeport right now, hang in there, because I believe that we are on our road to recovery and your house can and will sell.

Until next time,

James Sarles, President
Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty

Friday, May 3, 2013

Grand Bahamian Waterfront Estate

A graceful and understated island elegance is everywhere you turn in this exquisitely detailed $3.5 million home on Scuttler's Way. With tranquil vistas overlooking the canal, a beautiful boat dock and built-in lift makes this an ideal retreat for anyone who enjoys time out on the sparkling clear Bahama seas. Views of the ocean are part of the master suite ambiance, with waterfront balconies and refreshing scenery at every window.
The home features 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms in the main house. Effortless entertaining is designed into this gorgeously landscaped property with an additional bedroom and bath in the adjoining guest house, which gives visitors an ideal combination of both proximity and privacy. Poolside gatherings enjoy lovely canal views, as well as an outdoor-access guest bath (giving the home a total of 5 bedrooms and 7 baths all together). The flowering lush tropical foliage and plantings on the property surround you with a sense of Eden on a daily basis—and well thought out touches bring ongoing joy. 

Throughout the 6,000 square feet of this deluxe residence, the highest end, top-of-the-line finish work has been crafted into the dwelling for an ease of living that exudes luxury and class. To see this incredibly beautiful home and fabulous amenities, contact Nikolai Sarles at Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty: 242.351.9081 or 242.727.8887.
 For more photos and information, click here.