Sunday, September 8, 2013

Let's Talk Real Estate with James Sarles: Will Sunwing Help Our Real Estate Market?


It looks like Sunwing is really coming and that's good news for the Grand Bahama Real Estate Market.  I drove by the old Holiday Inn (Reef Village) recently and saw containers arriving and lots of activity. The owners of the hotel are spending a lot of money preparing the "new hotel".  According to Sunwing's website "Starting January 16th, 2014, they will be offering weekly winter service from Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton to Freeport, Grand Bahama, along with year round flights from Toronto. They are introducing a the brand new Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort, a 4 1/2-star all inclusive family-friendly resort located on a pristine stretch of white sandy beach."

This is great news for Grand Bahama because we have a chance to move forward again with thousands of new people coming to the market to see our beautiful island. If they like what they see they will want to spend more time here and that will have a direct positive effect on the Real Estate Market.  New People means New Potential  Buyers. The key will be if they like what they see and experience good customer service. So Grand Bahamians we have a chance to get things moving again BUT ultimately its up to all of us to make their experience a good one. If you are a property owner please take pride in your property by sprucing up and cleaning up your yards. If you are a business owner please make an effort to tidy up the look of your buildings. If you own a building that you have let go derelict have some consideration for all of us  living here and clean it up, fix it up, or plant landscaping so it does not look like a ghetto.  If you know the owners of these derelict buildings say something to them because they are hurting our chances of recovery. I hope the GBPA steps up to the plate and forces these owners to clean up their act because the first impressions of all of these people coming to Freeport will make or break the market.

There is a classic children’s story about Chicken Little—a character who is hit on the head by an acorn and proceeds to run with his friend Ducky Lucky and others to tell the King that “the sky is falling… the sky is falling!”

If you talk to people around Freeport, or listen to the daily onslaught of mainstream news, you probably agree with Chicken Little that the sky is falling when it comes to our economy.  If asked about real estate prices on Grand Bahama, Chicken Little would tell you that “the Sky is Falling”, and everyone’s house prices are falling so don’t sell or don’t buy. We have many Chicken Little messengers on the island that think Grand Bahama will never get out of its current slump, and that the housing market will never recover—nothing could be further from the truth and Sunwing could be the start of this recovery.  Here’s another way to look at it:

There are 2 important points to consider regarding our current real estate market.

One. Unlike our neighbors to the North, we never really experienced the boom market, which created the American housing bubble. In 2008 when the US housing bubble burst and many homes lost almost 50% of their value, sleepy Grand Bahama prices did not move very much— because they had never soared that much—and so they also did not come down that much either.

Two. We seem to forget that real estate follows a cycle; we forget that history repeats itself. Its like we all have amnesia and we have never seen down markets before. There is a saying that what goes up must come down, and what is down must come up.  Real estate is no different. There were major shifts or down real estate markets in 1979, then 1987, then 2008.  According to top economists, we are slowly (very slowly) recovering and the markets may stay flat for a while, so we are in a new paradigm—a new model for growth. Our neighbors across the pond will tell you that the market is recovering. Our Bahamian Neighbors will tell you that their markets are recovering as well. And with Sunwing bringing thousands of people every week to GBI we will have new potential buyers in the marketplace which is good for the real estate market.

It’s All About Timing

If you wait for the markets to hit bottom or fully recover you might be waiting a long time. Prices don’t really go up or down for logical reasons. Sellers and buyers change their minds based on their confidence in the marketplace—that’s what really causes prices to go up and down. Unfortunately, no one can tell you exactly when we reach bottom, because when the market prices begin to rise, it’s only then that you realize you missed the bottom!

There is no doubt in my mind that if you are looking for motivated sellers and deals in real estate, this is the time. It’s one of those times when the aggressive people make a lot of money, and the more timid just look from the sidelines and become what I call a “Would of, Could of, Should of” seller or buyer.

If you are a potential home buyer, condo buyer, duplex buyers, land speculator, canal home buyer, or commercial buyer get up off your seat and look around for deals. The market is soft right now, so this is the time to get a terrific value at the right price. Listing prices have not fluctuated on paper, but the actual deals that are being made reflect reduced prices.

No one knows for sure what is in store for the world economics, or Freeport, but what we do know is that throughout history, real estate has proven to be a great long term investment. While prices are down and sellers are motivated, this may be the right time for you. If you have been thinking about real estate, this is the time to get out there and start looking. If you are a seller, get your property ready because  Sunwing will soon be bringing thousands of Canadians to the Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort and hopefully many of these people will be interested in Real Estate that's priced to sell.

Shift Happens

Freeport is a city with great potential. It will move forward. Sure we could improve on quite a few things, but it only takes a series of small changes to make a major shift. If we fix things like the airlift situation, create a first class cruise port, develop medical tourism, create more jobs, attract more investors and visitors, beautify the island’s landscaping, and have all of Freeport working together, these changes will create a major shift in the economy and Freeport will be reborn.

This will of course change the real estate landscape, and the market could change from a buyers market to a sellers market almost overnight. There are many people working towards this change and we all need to pitch in to help our community fulfill its promise. It will not be done for us. All of us in our own small way must make it happen—and it will.

It is time to bring the magic back to Freeport—a community that was once proudly dubbed The Magic City. At Coldwell Banker/James Sarles Realty, we believe in the future of Freeport.

Good Luck with your property hunting. Until next week,
James Sarles, President
Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty